Coming of Age Inspirational Speculative

Is Life Full of Roses or Jade?

Mr. and Mrs. Johnson recently lost their daughter. Fortunately, death was not the cause. Rather, marriage led her away from home. Loading the last of her gigantic, unorganized boxes into the moving truck they turned all turned away from each other. With nothing left to say, the newlyweds Anna and Mark slowly walked to his car. The cheap car's roar did not distract Anna's parents enough to look back. The new Mr. and Mrs. Smith could walk all the way to Washington, D.C. for all they cared. Actually, they cared more than they would ever admit to. 

Out of concern, yet hopping to mortify the new couple, Anna and Mark were left dumbstruck upon hearing her parent's last words. They should not have been so surprised, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson tended conduct themselves as though they lived in the 20th century, while the world had moved onto the 21st century. ”You don't get to choose your family, but you can choose your friends/spouses. Choose wisely Anna,” and “By your friends/spouse shall ye be judged.” 

Mrs. Johnson's ordered her husband dig through the attic while additional puns raced through her head. If he found the VCR and home-video tapes still worked, she would be able to watch home-videos of Anna as an innocent little girl, the family united. “I'm only doing this because I love you” her husband shouted as he returned from the attic, coughing because of all the dust filling his lungs. Exhausted, he slipped and just barely managed to stay on the couch. The two medium sized plastic containers were flung upside down and hit the ground with a crash. Perhaps it was the amount of mold found on both containers that resulted in neither breaking. 

Remembering stories of generations past, Mrs. Johnson assumed rather than technology, family photos would be the sought after commodity. Passed down through the decades, the Johnson family were able to maintain ownership of their current home. Inheriting a family home rather than selling was uncommon. They took pride in still owning it. Repairs were needed on occasion, altering the house as much as time altered traditions. 

“Well it's about time! I'm calling 'Jungle's Online' and giving them a piece of mind! Why did we even bother, it was a waste of time AND money,” shouted Mrs. Johnson as she roughly grabbed a small box off the ground. 

“Darling, let's see if everything works before complaining? Frankly, your impatience has been bothersome since the moment I even went up to the attic! A waste of time you claim, spending hours on the computer shopping is nothing compared to prying the moldy 'armor' off the containers. In the future, if something is so important to you, don't leave it up in the attic to rot away for decades. I need replacement tools. You should be thanking me for helping you take on such a difficult quest. Pray I don't become ill from dust, mold and exhaustion.”

Finally letting out what was in his mind for weeks, he simply stated “I'm not sure what would have been worse; finding what you sought or informing you that there was nothing?” In hindsight, the latter would have been worse because his Barbie wife would have climbed over the mountains of unspecified items, and crawled through the few spaces that were present. He would demand this wife clean the attic when spring cleaning arrived. Perhaps she would find other items of value. His body-builder's physique made navigating the wilds of the attic difficult. Women cleaned back in the day, why shouldn't she now, if she insisted on being so stuck up and traditional. Maybe living in the same house for generations was a poor choice. 

Upon assembling the VCR, Mr. Johnson prayed that the only surviving tapes were not damaged. It would be impossible to find home-videos online unlike other films. The quest left Mr. Johnson more desperate than his wife. “Thank you Lord, I-cough-we, I mean to say, that everything works. We are both eternally grateful I'm sure,” he said, slightly mocking his wife. “I couldn't agree more! Thank you so much Lord... and thank you too my beloved, I know how much hassle I've put you through these last few weeks. I'm sorry...but you're my only one left.” Organs nearly burst from his body as his wife hugged him. She had already lost her daughter, she was not going to loose her husband too, even if that she literally had to keep him with her. 

Unable to cease sobbing, the tapes were paused/rewound frequently. Finally, they had to change out of tear soaked shirts. “Can we start...again...perhaps even get past her first birthday?” “Yes, I can't wait!” “Wait... Darling, what are you expecting? Rewatching the tapes is not going to bring her back... This is just for our own entertainment.” Unfortunately, this warning was not taken to heart, and the marathon only caused additional pain. Finishing what amounted to 17 years of their daughter only reminded the couple that they would never get the opportunity to film her again.  

Days moved to weeks, months and almost a year for the family. “I know I shouldn't, but I miss mom and dad, honey should I text or call them again?” “If they would actually respond I won't stop you.” Obtaining a response would be a miracle. Visiting would likely be considered a mortal sin. All were in pain as hellfire visited each of their dreams. Thirty years taught him to ignore rude behavior, unlike his 20 year old wife. Yet bloody-red torture and murder flashed throughout Mark's nightmares because of their treatment of her. Not eager to commit murder, even in her dreams, she hoped her parents still suffered as much as she did. A one year old wailing endlessly, prevented her from sleeping. Her efforts to comfort the baby resembled her relationship with her parents. Nothing she ever did would satisfy them. 

Although the night sky remained clear, The Johnson's minds did not. The nightmare family curse regularly woke up the couple in a cold sweat to the sound of nonexistent thunder. “Perhaps being married for so long is what's making us have identical nightmares. Darling, remember it's only in your dreams.” “Sweetheart, I know you're trying, but you aren't comforting me.” “What more should I do, I'm at a loss?” Disowning their only daughter left them with nothing to value more than each other and the family home. 

One night, their single story brick home, with a white picket fence in the yard, fresh flowers and an oak tree swing had changed. The bricks were no longer clean and smooth and the fence laid in pieces. The roses were wilting and tree swing was slaughtered. If the destruction of the outside matched the inside, she and her husband would need to vacate the premises, at least until repairs could be made. Only a natural disaster or a direct message from the Lord would convince them it was time to leave home permanently.  

Their world seemed to be colored jade. The whole house was destroyed. Nothing was in the correct location. What was found suffered devastating effects. Enormous items like the wall covering living-room TV, the ceiling high bookcase, and king-sized bed had fallen, leaving smaller items crushed. Upturned furniture and personal items were also part of the collateral damage. 

As they toured their home, their floors felt like blazing hot coals against their feet. Entering the backyard, their pet dogs changed into vicious wolves. The above ground pool burst, flooding the yard. The water did not cool their feet unfortunately. Only their daughter’s former bedroom remained untouched. No longer inhabited, nothing was left to harm. Without curtains to block the view, the formerly blue sky and neighborhood also appeared to be jade. Far away from the front door, it would be excruciating to get out. Anna did, changing her maiden name as she fled, probably grateful for the opportunity. If their daughter wanted a man like him, she could have him.

Becoming a 'free-nester' was seen as a joyous moment for most parents. Parental dedication finally rewarded. A steady, happy future for their decedents was all they ever desired, even if life seemed difficult at times. Remembering stories of her great-great grandparents lives, of how life was 'supposed to work' and comparing her own only increased the resentment Anna felt. Clearly her distant relatives lived a life of perfection, protected from the world in their precious house.

The 20th Century Johnson family built her former home from the ground up. Building a home on a simple piece of land must have been the most difficult task of their lives. Other than marriage and parenting. Eighteen years flew by so quickly in her ancestor's lives. Soon enough children were thrown out of their house and into an almost arranged marriage. Often elaborate, a wedding would proceed finding a residence within walking distance. Multiple babies were expected. Anna was content with one. Eloping to make her out of wedlock child 'legitimate,' marrying a man she loved and moving across the country was unheard of during her ancestor's time. Picking a name because you liked it rather than it being a relative's name was also nontraditional, Mia would learn. 

Finally, young Mia had fallen asleep. Briefly giving into sleep, Anna's nightmares were filled with memories of an imagined past. The last their belongings were packed, words of warmth and love blessed her newlywed great-great grandparents. Childless, the couple turned back, they were distracted by their home. Dramatic changes had taken place, the cause unknown. The bricks minor imperfections had suddenly been fully smoothed. The picket fence, last seen in pieces was suddenly repaired. A new branch had grown on the front yard oak tree, allowing for the swing to be restored. Blown by a gentle wind, it appeared to be pushing someone. Roses had that were slowly wilting had grown back. Their world was colored like a light-pink rose as their house was restored to its' former glory. Unorganized and untidy no longer described their home, with all children having left. 

The elegant ceiling high bookshelf was filled to the brim with lost books. The king-sized bed was made and the whole house cleaned. Missing items and furniture were returned to their rightful places. No technology plagued the 20th century home. Warmth from the sun touched the house and its residents as they strolled through the house unafraid.

A rose colored garden of Eden best described their backyard. The grass was freshly mowed, allowing their dogs to gently pass toys to one another. Walking back in felt the same as before until the reached their daughter's room. Remaining a comfortable temperature, the view of their neighbor's home and the sky was no longer blocked by curtains. The world still appeared to be rose colored. Returning to the front of the house would bittersweet. With nothing left in the room, nothing could be changed her wise ancestor's realized. Except their daughter's maiden name and address.

Brutally awakened by Mia's crying, her most recent nightmare was her most enlightening. “Honey, should we have moved? FBI agents, move to D.C. eventually, but was it worth it?” “I know how they are treating you now is disheartening, but it will pass. We may not see eye-to-eye, but what they deem nontraditional now, they will accept. If that never happens, don't blame yourself-it's them.”

Like mother, like daughter, Mrs. Johnson began to share the same desire to connect. “Stop letting your pride get push your daughter aside. Enough is enough, and if you don't, then I will call and text them tonight,” picking up his I-phone. “You wouldn't dare! Don't waste money on our phone bills. They won't respond respectfully, if they bother to at all,” growled his wife yanking the phone out of his hand, smashing it into the ground.

“That's not true and you know it. Just because she has made a few mistakes doesn't mean she is doomed to repeat them. She outgrew her 'goth' stage, returning from purple to the brunette-albeit with blonde highlights- beauty she was before. How was it that she recovered? It was with our love and support. That is the only wedding gift they would ever ask of us; it's never too late to give it to them.” “By the way, your phone is now mine until we can afford a new one. Think before you act darling,” smirking at the horrified look on his wife's face as he turned her purse upside down, contents spilling to the ground, then grabbing her I-phone out of the junk pile. 

“Mom? Wait, dad? Why do you have mom's phone?” Starting with laughter regarding her father's story, the conversation proved to become more difficult to understand as the phone kept getting yanked out of his hand. The content was also difficult to grasp. Speaking frankly, “Think before you act in the future princess. Especially, with your family. I disagree with your mother frequently about you. She is the traditional one, and she needs to move on. I'm guilty of those thoughts too, but reflecting on the past year made me realize that your mother and I were wrong.” Pulling the phone briefly out of her hands, tall Mark did not hang up. Instead he put the phone on speaker, holding it in front of them both. “...yes sir, I know how lucky I am. We understand your concerns and will address them as they come.”

“Now then, stop sounding so 'professional' Mark and lets focus on organizing a visit. I wanna see my beloved granddaughter,” joy returning to the conversation. “Even if I have to drag your mother onto the plane in a suitcase, she is going to come to D.C. with me. I've never been. Our house is open to you as well, now that we have a guestroom. I do have one request however, please sell this house once your mother and I have passed. Don't continue the tradition of living in one place for too long.” Apparently eavesdropping on the whole conversation, begrudgingly, “Yes, lets visit etc. Enough with all the mushy nonsense. Don't you DARE sell the house or my ghost will haunt your dreams forever!” After a year of hell, the whole family could sleep under peaceful rainbows, no longer trapped by tradition and hate.

March 19, 2021 13:31

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Graham Kinross
08:56 Nov 22, 2021

"Mr. and Mrs. Johnson recently lost their daughter. Fortunately, death was not the cause. Rather, marriage led her away from home." Are they pessimists? Shouldn't they think of it as gaining a son? "yet hopping to mortify," hoping. "He would demand this wife clean the attic when spring cleaning arrived." He makes demands? That's a dangerous thing for a husband to do, he should ask nicely. They disowned her? OK I hate them now, I hope that's what you were aiming for. Maybe you should start each line of dialogue on a new line, some of the ...


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Susie Johnson
23:08 Jun 14, 2021

It's an interesting interpretation of the prompt. Good job.


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