A short story:
The last Sunday of the month, the last Sunday of the year, the first light of sunrise. The phone alarm wakes me on the last day.
No sounds filter through the window, just light. I roll onto my side and open one eye, not too wide in case I see what’s missing, in case the memories come too fast. The deep burn in my throat struggles to escape. I swallow it, bury it deep in my gut. I want to have a shower, get dressed, close up the last box of belongings and pack it in the car before I take the last look around, touch the arbour over the back door that I made, water the roses planted over every pet who crossed the rainbow bridge.
My arbour, my last effort at DIY for the house. Why? What was the celebration? Not a Christmas, something personal. Anniversary? That was it. The jokes about how all the wedding gifts were vases. All sold at the garage sale.
The agent will be here at eight o’clock. Or was I supposed to go to his office? Doesn’t matter. If I’m supposed to be here, then here is where I’ll be at the designated time, and if I’m supposed to be there and I’m not, he can call me. I pull out the phone, turn it on. A couple of messages from yesterday. The last farewells.
I expect the agent will be patient. After all, he’s not the one losing the last connection to his family, his history of place and time. No, that’s me, that’s what I’m losing.
All he needs is my signature, the keys, and vacant possession, then the debt is covered.
I grab the one towel, the one shirt, the one pair of pants, and walk down the walnut-lined hallway to the bathroom.
The water in the shower is cold. The power was shut off yesterday, so no spark to light the instant gas hot water system I’d given them on the anniversary of my first paying job. I grinned at their shock that I’d saved the money for it.
Time to depart the location that’s been home since I first drew breath.
I didn’t think I’d miss it, but it felt like the kid who’s lost his favourite toy, the first shiny bicycle of his childhood, the only kid on the street with something new for Christmas in the tight-knit block of hard-scrabblers on the edge of poverty.
Now there’s just an old house that’s worth something to developers.
Unless I don’t sign.
It’s not legal until I sign it over.
I can sell Mum’s jewellery. Would she mind if it was so her only child had a home, a roof over his head, a place that represented security, safety, a bolt-hole and a future? I dressed to face the cross-road, and the crosser agent.