Everything's Changed

Reads: 331  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 2

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
A woman struggles to come to terms with all that's happened in her life.

Submitted: September 18, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 18, 2016



Everything has changed, yet standing in front of this old house seems like stepping back in time. I can still remember when we first moved in. Just a slight girl of seven with blonde hair in pigtails running round and round the house with my brother. I can remember how happy those first years were with my family. Exotic vacations, fancy dinners, expensive clothes, and exquisite works of art all revolved around our perfect life.

Then came the fighting, the arguing. My parents’ head-to-head rows that would last far into the night. My brother crawling into my bed as we hugged each other close and listened to our parents’ screams.

“Why do you do this to me?”

“Me? Talk about yourself you hypocritical…”

After the fighting came the courts and lawyers and judges. These took hours at a time, and my brother and I tried the best we could to just hold onto each other. The courts completely ripped apart my perfect life. I suppose I had always harbored the hope of my parents realizing that they still loved each other. That they would wake up one day and realize they were making a huge mistake. That moment never came.

Instead, my brother and I were packed up into a car and driven away. Hours away, we came to house we would come to call home with our mother. I never did see my father again after that day.

We soon got used to the new house, but it was achingly different from before. The rooms were dark and tiny with small windows that seemed bent on letting in as little light as possible. My room was hardly large enough for a twin bed spread with a dull green duvet and a rickety dresser that threatened to topple at the slightest touch. Despite its dismal atmosphere, I spent most of my time in that little room. My brother had grown up and away from me. He turned to friends and other activities to distract him from the hole our lives had fallen into.

The three of us spent four long years in that sad house till my mother remarried. He was a gentleman, nothing but kind and polite, but he wasn’t my father. I didn’t like him one bit. But, my mother seemed to love him, so I tolerated this stranger coming into our midst.

Because of him, we moved into another new house. This one was large much like that first home, yet it retained the dank colors of our last house. At least here, my windows were large with a wonderful view of the vibrant elm tree growing in the front yard.

I learned to like the man over the years even if I would never love him. My brother could never understand why I tolerated him.

“He’s a stranger. An outsider. He’s not to be trusted.”

“You’re going too far. He seems nice, and Mother loves him.”

“You just don’t understand.”

My brother was right. I never did understand why he couldn’t just get along with the man. Even after all these years, I still wonder what exactly it was that pushed my brother over the edge. Perhaps it was his friends, or the “activities” he did to fill his time. I don’t know. All I knew then was that I had lost my support, my friend, my confidant, my ally, and my brother all at once.

The next year was one of the hardest of my life. At random moments, I would fall into suffocating patterns of exhaustion and dejection. During those times, I wouldn’t have the strength for much but lying on my bed and watch the elm tree shiver in the wind. My mother never understood it. She thought I was being lazy at first. When it continued, she thought I might be mentally unstable. That was the first time I went to a therapist.

The therapist’s office was a cluttered room crammed with plush chairs, random papers, tattered books, odd paintings, large filing cabinets, and so much more. The therapist herself was a stout woman with a bold wardrobe and a creased expression. She would often stare at me with those muddy eyes as she asked prying questions about my past, my present, and my future. Mostly, I just stared out the circle window stationed directly above a table crowded with piles of clutter. Through it, I could see a portion of the sky and the branch of a wizened tree. I watched the outside turn clear, stormy, sunny, cloudy, snowy, rainy, windy, and everything in between. Sometimes, I liked to think that the weather was trying to sympathize with my moods. I spend more time than I would have ever liked in the therapist’s office.

Of course, I would never credit the therapist with my lifting mood. No, that was for a much different reason. Near the end of that year, I discovered something wonderful, something that brought me out of my pit of despair. That thing, was my writing. All at once, I had meaning in my life, I knew what I wanted to do.

My mother was not quite as enthusiastic when I told her of my aspirations. She expected me to be a doctor, a lawyer, even a businesswoman, but she never would have hoped for me to be a writer.
“Writer’s don’t make much money.”

“You won’t have a future as a writer.”

These and many more were directed to end my dreams, but I persevered. Taking a leaf from my brother’s book, I began ignoring my mother and my stepfather. I poured myself into writing and dreamed of a future where I would be free.

Too soon, I was growing up, and becoming an adult. College application season was upon me, and I almost drowned in the rush. Which college? Which courses to take? What essay to write? It exhausted me and may have drove me over the edge if not for another new discovery of mine. A girl had come up to me one day and asked if I knew the answer to a homework question. We got to talking and found that we had more in common than I could ever have predicted. We parted, but the next day, there was the girl with a new question about homework. This became a daily ritual that I discovered I looked forward to each day. Maybe, humanity wasn’t quite as awful as I once thought it was.

Years passed, and I can still recall how wonderful it was to have another person understand me like she did. I grew up and got away from my mother much to my excitement and her dismay. I moved once more, this time to a bustling city with soaring buildings and endless streams of noise and movement. My apartment was tiny, smaller than that old house after my parent split, but it had cheerful colors on the walls that I had sorely missed all these years. I grabbed a job working at a publication company, but I continued to work on my writing during my free time. I would publish my writing someday; I would show my mother.

My younger years faded away in a blur of bright night lights and packed crowds. I flew through like a bird through a storm. Barely keeping my life together, I waved that part of my life goodbye without a look back.

The next years were a crawl compared to the last few. That of course was till I published my first novel. I had worked so long to bring this dream to fruition that achieving it exhilarated my soul. I was a published author. And my mother said I would never be anything. Sending her a copy of my book may just have been the cherry on top.

Soon, my life fell into a comfortable rhythm. I learned not to be surprised if a person happened to recognize me for my books although I can’t say I was calm or composed the first few times it happened. Another sweet surprise happened that truly was unexpected.

There had been an odd number that had appeared on my phone a few times, but I always assumed it to be a wrong number. One of the times, I got irritated and accepted the call with a snappish speech ready in my mind, yet the voice threw me for a loop. It belonged to someone I hadn’t heard of in too many years, but the memories of our daily meetings surfaced once more. My old friend from high school had seen my name on one of my books, and she put two and two together.

Before long, we were right back in our rhythm and agreeing to meet up soon. Turns out, we had moved to neighboring towns, so we met up once more in the next few days. My friend told me about her life since we’d seen each other. She’d gone on to become a businesswoman like what my mother wanted of me. She’d started a family, and led a comfortable life. However, she had never given up her love of writing, and our friendship soon extended to a writing circle of two.

My next years were most definitely on par with those early days of publishing. I had a close friend, and I had achieved my dream. Yet there was something missing. I found myself dreaming of my earliest years in our old house with the pale blue walls and echoing rooms.

My daydreams turned to obsession, and I combed through my resources to find if my old house still stood. It did, so I made plans to go to see it. Just to see even a fleeting glance of its exterior would be enough for me. My friend thought it was crazy, but she could at least understand my desire to connect with the past.

I was terrified going to the house. Afraid of disappointment, of all this hoopla being for nothing. So terrified, I almost turned around multiple times driving to the house. I didn’t. I walked up those familiar front steps and hesitated in front of that crisp white door before raising my hand a knocking quickly before I could take it back.

The door opened on a young woman who looked more than a bit frazzled, but she had a kind smile and curious eyes. She asked me what I was doing, and I almost froze up. What was I doing here? Why had I decided to go see this old house that I hadn’t been to in decades? An answer came to mind that I stuttered out. I guess she understood me, because she accepted my request.

My legs started moving, and I fell into autopilot down the front steps, left around the blue hydrangeas, lift the latch and swing the gate, across the stubby grass to an arcing tree dominating the backyard. There, I stopped. My eyes traveled along the trunk, the branches, the leaves, everything I remembered from those years before. Walking round to the backside of the tree, I stepped closer and traced the engraving scarred into the majestic tree.


Property of Genie Wilder


I can still remember my eight-year-old self meticulously carving that into the trunk with my brother’s pocketknife I had borrowed not completely with his consent.

I drifted out with no word to the young woman, just a slight nod before I was gone. I drove off and never even realized there was a car swerving my way. Too late, I jerked the steering wheel, but the other car still plowed directly into my car. My eyes shut, and I felt like I was being crushed before everything lightened. Slowly, my eyes crept open to a familiar voice.

“Genie? Come on, it’s time to go.”

There was my brother standing above me with a hand out stretched, but this was my brother at our house, the house I had just left. This wasn’t the brother I had seen fall to the weight of the world. He grabbed one of my hands and yanked me upwards. I felt myself rearing up with dizzying force. The spinning accelerated till I lost all thought and bearing. I simply disappeared. 

© Copyright 2018 Greythereadaholic. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments: