The Ploys of the Past

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

A woman in search of her childhood self.

Submitted: December 01, 2017

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Submitted: December 01, 2017



Resting one elbow upon the mantelpiece, the woman gazed out the living room window, watching the movers load her last boxes of belongings onto the truck. She recalled how a few days ago she’d sat on the edge of her bed, dreading this moment of farewell to her memories. But now that the pantomime was taking place before her eyes, she felt nothing inside, as though none of those boxes were even hers to begin with. She knew that she only had a few more hours to say goodbye to her childhood, yet the whole affair seemed surreal, as if she wasn’t the one burdened with the task of axing her roots. In her mind she was still a little girl, running back from school to her mother’s warm embrace, to her father’s stern yet thoughtful gaze, to her sister’s cries echoing through the house, but when the door opened and she heard her husband call her name, she was once again pulled back into reality, leaving behind the little girl on the doorstep of her memories. She wondered if she would ever see her again.

Her husband’s footsteps were always silent and carefree, but today everything echoed, a reminder that the house that was once a safe haven had now been reduced to an empty shell. When the footsteps came to an abrupt end, she knew that her husband was standing behind her, but she said nothing and kept staring out the window. The movers were in the midst of pushing a bookcase up the ramp, which proved to be a rather troublesome task, indicated by their having to stop every second or so to wipe the sweat off their brow. As she kept her eyes fixated on this scene, she loosened her grip on the reins and allowed her mind to slip away, attempting to once more reconnect with her childhood self. Yet all she saw in her mind’s eye was an empty street and an empty house, an empty yard and an empty living room, an empty kitchen and an empty bedroom – the furniture was there, intact, letting one know that once upon a time this place was home to a happy family, but the people were gone, and so was the little girl. She no longer heard the echoes of her sister’s cries, or her parents arguing over the weekly budget, or her mother humming her tunes while she cooked. Now, as the woman moved through the vacant hallways of her childhood home, she only heard silence. Silence had befriended time, wrapped itself like ivy around the kitchen table, settled like dust upon the lampshades, and enveloped the entire house in a protective sheath, as though this building resided outside the boundaries of her past and needed to remain untouched. And then her husband put one hand upon her shoulder, breaking thus the spell of her reverie.

What surprised her the most upon turning around was seeing the tears in her husband’s eyes. Why is he crying, she began to ask herself, until she realized that she had also been crying, felt fresh tears leave their home and succumb to gravity. Her husband’s lips began to part as though words were on the verge of escaping his mouth, but he swallowed those words before they came to fruition. He instead put his head on his wife’s shoulder and wept. They stayed motionless, two figures betrayed by time, sobbing silently for their childhood days where reality was still kind to them both. Yet all they received in response was a soundless sigh uttered by life, and they knew then that they needed to move on and free themselves from the ploys of the past. The husband pulled away. The woman looked up into his eyes and saw a desire to surrender to the uncertainties of future, but she also saw a hopeful longing for a past that perhaps would never fade. She wondered if he saw the same thing in her eyes, wondered if he looked for his past in her eyes.

And she also wondered if she would ever find her childhood self in his patient gaze. 

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