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General


 I have to go in. I drove passed the house three times this week without gathering the courage to step out of the car. But today, I have to go in. 

 My sweaty hands cling tightly to the wheel and a few tears are adding up in the corners of my eyes. 

 I decided to start slowly. Baby steps, as they call it. First step, I just walk around the house. Second step, I’ll gather their stuff, my stuff now. Third step, I store it all in my apartment. Last step, I …

 I shouldn’t think about the last step. I shouldn’t even organize this whole process in steps. I can’t systematize such an emotional process. Just like I can’t put reason in the fact that I don’t want to say goodbye to a house I cannot enter, let alone live in.

 I shut my eyes tight. I can barely look at it. The porch alone is loaded with memories. I remember waving to the friendly neighbors. I remember shouting a loud “I love you too” to dad before shutting the door behind me. I remember my first kiss with Eric Hannagan. I was a shy and awkward teenager, gazing into his dreamy brown eyes, feeling the warmth of his face getting closer to mine. I remember standing there, thinking of something witty and smart to say before he leaves. I was never good at goodbyes.

 I can’t let it go on any longer. The house has been deserted for four years now. And if I could afford ignoring its existence in those years, I have no other choice but to sell it now. And to do so I have to clean it, to clear it out and…

 I have to go in. 

 My legs are heavy and my throat is tight. I feel like I have just run a marathon. I am not walking towards the door I’m pushing my wooden legs. My fingers find the key and I somehow manage to open the door. 

 Everything is dark inside.

 My feet instinctively get around the squeaky wooden floor. I instantly lift my right hand toward the light switch and throw the keys on the counter. It’s as if I had never left. As if I’m still fifteen, about to throw my backpack on the ground, grab a snack from the kitchen and tell dad all about the boring day I had in school.

 I slowly walk to the living room. Nothing changed. I guess the maids couldn’t bring themselves to move things around. That’s where I would settle with my friends when I was little. I didn’t have many friends. The ones who would visit were the kids from the ‘grieving children’ center. A lot of us had lost our mothers the day we were born. Dad thought it would help me “cope well” with mom’s death. I don’t blame him. He suffered more from her absence than I did. I used to wonder if he went to a ‘grieving single parents’ center after he had dropped me. 

 I never liked those meetings. I feel that the other children didn’t either. The main initiative was to help us go through life like anyone else, but all it did was make us feel different from others. And truth to be told, we were. Other kids could spend their Saturday afternoons at swim classes not in a depressing room with one too many kids’ poster pinned on the walls.

 To please dad, I hanged as much as I could with them in this very same room. We would just look at each other, eating Oreos and putting on our brightest deceiving smiles.

 I noticed the other girls looked just like me: thin, wearing comfortable clothing rather than flowery sun dresses and all of us had short haircuts. I guess our dads were too ashamed to show the world they didn’t know how to braid their little girls' hair, so they just thought it would be cuter in a short haircut.

 I walked toward the kitchen. By then, my heart was nothing but a stone held in my chest. 

 Our little kitchen.

 I let the images resurface in my brain. I wanted my memory to hold on to every moment. The morning coffees. The afternoon teas with biscuits. The meals dad could barely manage to cook.

 My tears were rising again. They’re all gone. It’s just me. It’s just me and this house that is about to get sold. 

 Feeling numb, I walked up the stairs. 

 I peeked at the bathroom. One of my strongest memories there was the time I had my first period. Dad had put much effort to explain the whole deal to me, no matter how awkward it got. He knew some things were usually taught to girls by their moms and he did everything he could to fill up for her. I once told him I had found in him two parents. That was only partly true. Every kid needs both parents.

 His room was at the end of the hall. It smells like furniture and wood. It used to smell like flowers. Orchids. Mom’s favorites.

His closet was just how he left it. His clothes neatly folded, his workout gear in the bottom and his cigars in the last drawer. 

 I fell on the floor. I shouldn’t do this. I shouldn’t go through his things. I shouldn’t dispose of them. 

 "He still needs them". 

 Says a soft voice in the corner of my head.

 "You can’t get rid of them. He’ll come back and he’ll need them".

I never accepted his death. It was too soon, too sudden and I still needed him. 

 Maybe, if I just go down to the kitchen, he’d be there, trying to cook something descent.  

 If I listen closely I’ll hear his familiar footsteps. 

 He’ll get here. He’ll put a warm hand on my shoulder and sit next to me.

 “What’s wrong sweetheart?” He’ll say, in that soft voice he only used with me. “Why are you sitting alone on the cold floor?”

 He’ll study my face with worried eyes and I’d finally have a chance to ask him all those burning questions.

 “Did it hurt?” I’ll tell him.

 “I miss you.” I’ll add. “Your sparky eyes, your smiles, your winks, will I ever see them again?”

I inhale a shaky breath that gets stuck somewhere in my chest.

 “Are you lonely? Are you with Mom?” I’ll whisper.

“Does she know she had a daughter? Does she know my name? Do either of you remember you had a daughter?” 

  He’ll get here. Any moment now. 


May 20, 2020 16:40

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27 comments

00:12 Feb 17, 2021

Beautiful story!

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00:13 Feb 17, 2021

If you don't mind, could you please come to check out my story and give some feedback? I would really appreciate it!

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Sze Ning Chuah
11:51 May 28, 2020

What bittersweet overtones with a sorrowful ending. It's a beautifully written story. I noticed how you changed between past and present tense as you recounted the main character's story. I know conventionally, stories are written in past tense. But I thought the combination of past and present flowed well here, as the main character contrasted her previous life with dad around vs. the current experience of being in an empty house. Going by that principle of "past and present tense combination", it would be better if the sentence "My...

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Manel Tairi
12:05 May 28, 2020

Thank you ! I hesitated about using the present tense. I'm glad you noticed, that's exactly the kind of advices I need to improve myself.

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Kelechi Nwokoma
18:04 May 27, 2020

Manel, Oh, my goodness. This story was so heartfelt. I can't imagine enduring the pain the main character did. Also, I really understand how that meeting for grieving children didn't help at all to ease their loss. Like, it's just like a pity party, reminding them of the loss. It was a bit funny, but I felt smiling would be wrong on the main character. Overall, great job. I really enjoyed your story, and I'm looking forward to reading more Kelechi

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Manel Tairi
12:00 May 28, 2020

Thank you so much ! I'm glad you enjoyed it, it means a lot.

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Ruth Porritt
07:29 May 24, 2020

Hello Manel, I enjoyed this story because of the attention to detail. (By narrowing in on specific details, you made this story universal in its appeal.) I especially enjoyed the detail about the narrator's father explaining periods to his teen daughter. (So sweet.) For me, you also nailed the ending. (I am always trying to improve the endings of my short stories.) Anyway, fabulous, and I will catch you later, Ruth

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Manel Tairi
13:47 May 27, 2020

Thank you so much Ruth for taking the time to read the story and for giving such attention to details. I don't know what else to say except that you made my day !

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Ruth Porritt
23:00 May 27, 2020

Hey Manel, It's really my pleasure.🙂 Can't wait to read what you write next! 🙂 Ruth

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Daryl Gravesande
23:05 May 22, 2020

I LOVE this story. It feels so genuine! I enjoyed reading it!

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Manel Tairi
23:55 May 22, 2020

Thank you Daryl. That means so much to me !

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Daryl Gravesande
23:56 May 22, 2020

You deserve it. Your writing is so wonderful to get trapped into!

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Manel Tairi
00:12 May 23, 2020

That's so sweet ! And thank you for taking the time to read it.

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Daryl Gravesande
00:16 May 23, 2020

Of course. I always love a good story!

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Sam T.
11:41 May 22, 2020

Well written! Nice job..

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Manel Tairi
23:54 May 22, 2020

Thanks Sam !

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Tvisha Yerra
03:17 May 22, 2020

Touching story

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Manel Tairi
23:53 May 22, 2020

Thank you !

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Tvisha Yerra
04:03 May 23, 2020

It really was though! I read like four times! Would definetley like it more if I could

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Manel Tairi
10:37 May 23, 2020

This means a lot to me. It makes want to keep writing and to improve my writing so thanks for the support !

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05:12 Sep 24, 2020

Hey, Manel would you be kind to watch the first video it's on Harry potter. https://youtu.be/KxfnREWgN14 Sorry for asking your time

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04:35 Sep 24, 2020

Hey, Manel would you be kind to watch the first video it's on Harry potter. https://youtu.be/KxfnREWgN14 Sorry for asking your time

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. .
08:59 Sep 04, 2020

Wonderfully written!

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Grace M'mbone
19:53 Jul 20, 2020

I fell in love with your story Manel. I like this particular style of writing,how you've managed to apply tenses so flawlessly. I love how the story communicates with my feelings as a reader. Good work Manel. You are gifted,keep polishing your work and presenting it to the world. This is beautiful.

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Manel Tairi
20:21 Jul 30, 2020

Thank you so much Grace. I honestly can't tell you how much this means to me.

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This was great! Good job! Would you mind checking out my story ‘Hello, Weirdness, My Old Friend’ if you have a chance? If so, thanks! - AeRiN!

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Manel Tairi
20:31 Jul 30, 2020

Thank you Aerin !

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