Down memory lane .

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Returning to his childhood home after all these years, is everything as it seems?

Submitted: September 18, 2012

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Submitted: September 18, 2012

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As he drove along the winding road, heading into a village, dormant memories began to filter slowly into his mind. Memories brought back by the surrounding fields and greenery. The shapes of the hills, the placement of the trees, all served to remind him of the place where he grew up, where as a child he played and explored until the lure of the world outside took over and he was forced to comply with society’s demands of earning money and behaving in the correct manner. Don’t make a fuss, don’t rock the boat. Find love, pro-create, keep the wheels of your culture oiled. Have some input into its progression.

Yet, here, that seemed distant, another world, a world he had left behind, as if he had died, and his spirit was entering a nicer place, a paradise, opposite to what he was used to. It was a paradise to him, the countryside, or places less hectic than faceless crowded cities and stressful concrete environments. Here though, were pleasant memories, memories of him as a child, playing in the fields, chasing the cows and sheep, exploring forests with his friends, and generally doing things that children do when brought up in a small village, surrounded by a rural area.

He slowed down when he passed his old infants school. Although still in use, it looked unused and derelict, much as it did when he was a pupil. The old hopscotch diagram was still there, but rather more worn and indistinguishable. Nothing in the village seemed to have changed, as if time had left this place alone, perhaps as a relic of times gone by, a statement as to how things were, as though change were a stranger. The church, the shops, the houses, not quite exactly as they were when he had last seen them, time and weather having an unhurried effect, they had not been influenced by modern day standards of society. He would be surprised if somebody here had a mobile phone, and vehicles, though not really needed, because the locals rarely ventured far, probably were no more modern than a ford cortina.

After a short, slow drive, the sites bringing back pleasant memories, he parked up outside the only public house, and inside it was dark and gloomy, harbouring its own unique atmosphere which was pleasing and homely. The barman seemed curious and regarded him with a small amount of trepidation. Strangers don't often pass through, but when they do, they are seen by the locals with slight unease, and in some cases, fear. He sat alone in one corner, sipping lemonade. A group of four pensioners were sat near the entrance, playing dominoes, while what looked to be a man and wife where sat around the other side of the bar, not really saying much. They had probably exhausted all conversation throughout their married life, and were now probably seriously discussing what's been happening in all the soaps, and what should happen according to their principles, and whether they should get the house fumigated because a mouse had been spotted for a nano-second in the back yard, a yard that backs onto a field. Or the popular subject, money. How much they haven't got, and if they had this and if they had that. He wondered how many regrets older people had. Where they full of them, now that they were unable to follow their dreams through? If only I had climbed Mount Everest. If only I had completed a marathon. They probably had plenty. He wondered what people talked about around here. Each other, probably. Gossip was most likely rife, but he doubted that anybody here had any animosity towards anything.

He was in no hurry to leave, so after around half an hour, finished his drink, and left. It was a stark contrast outside, the bright sun dazzling him. He decided to leave his car where it was, and walk the short distance to his old house, where he grew up. The road curved and sloped upwards, but eventually he reached the semi-detached house which he had vacated 45 years ago. This was the first time he had come back, and despite the run-down appearance, and overgrown garden, it was exactly the same as his memory of it. When he had walked out, he had left the front door wide open. It was still the same, inviting him back, inviting him home.

He walked along the path and entered the hallway. Like opened floodgates, more memories flowed back. The carpet had a thick layer of dust, like a separate carpet altogether. There was a permeating odour that seemed to hang in the air like invisible fog that was neither pleasing, nor repellent. The back room door, beside the kitchen, was closed, and he was apprehensive of entering there, because if things were as he had left them, and it certainly seemed that way, then it would prove to him the fact that this village still had its values rooted in the past, as though progress had upped and left, and spread across everywhere else except here.

He gripped the handle, and slowly pushed it open. Apprehensively stepping in, he saw that a thick layer of dust covered everything, and daylight forced its way through the grimy windows. Everything was as he had expected. There were no signs of anybody having been here in the forty-five years since he'd left. It seemed that he was the last person to leave the house. His mother was still in her favourite chair, dressed as she was, knitting needles in hand, pattern on the arm-rest, with an unfinished cardigan. Her skeletal features had a thin layer of flesh stretched across them, everything else having decayed. Any permeations she would have excuded had long gone. He didn't know how she had died. Yet, he was with her when she did. One day she had been complaining about how she was convinced the electricity company were overcharging her, and knitting at the same time. How she could concentrate on both he never knew. She was certainly practised in each. He had looked up from the TV then because she had fallen silent. She seemed to have fallen asleep, so he continued to watch his programme, and only later did he discover that she had died. Without tears, without any frantic calls for an ambulance, he thought it would be easier for him to leave. He was leaving anyway, but didn't think it would be quite that early. Somebody else would see to her, he had thought, and maybe discover how she had died. His disappearance though, would probably have aroused suspicions, and maybe even a murder hunt, but he had decided to take the risk. Little did he realise, even at that time, that around the village, things happened slowly, if at all.

Perhaps the locals knew about her, knew that her son was incapable of murder, were not aroused by her absence, and decided to leave her there, entombed as she would perhaps have wanted. Her final resting place in her favourite chair with her favourite pastime, in front of the TV in the house she had always lived. He wasn't going to change that. There was no point in disturbing her, so he left, not bothering with the rest of the house, feeling no need. He had seen what he had returned to see, and had his beliefs confirmed, about this place being a relic of the past, where you could leave your door open and no burglars would enter, where people trusted each other, everybody knew one another. He liked it, liked its parallel reversion of modern society, and wondered if he ever might come back to live here. Yet, he also liked the challenge of the big cities, where everybody looked after number one, even if it was to the detriment of other individuals, where money ruled, and people strived to make more and more of it, where stress and hostility thrived. He was used to it, and didn't really know anything else. Perhaps one day he would return, if circumstances permitted. He was sure everything would be as it was.

Back out onto the path, he walked back to the gate and took one last look at his childhood home, smiled a humourless smile, and turned and walked back into the village where his car was waiting. He drove back the way he had came, watching the village recede in the rear-view mirror, where all his childhood memories were. After a few minutes, he was back on a main road, and because he maintained the speed he was driving at along the lanes, a car behind him beeped its horn, the driver wanting him to speed up. Welcome back to society, he thought, stepping on the accelerator.


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