When Darkness Fell

The summer I was 11, I played on a softball team. The coach had a warrant out for her arrest, so we frequently didn’t know when or where we would practice until we got a call about half an hour beforehand. Not surprisingly, like all teams with criminally inclined coaches, we kicked ass. At the end of the season, we had a huge slumber party at which I froze a bra for the first and last time. The next morning, my parents failed to pick me up. The hosts called, but got no answer (before mobile phones, before cordless phones, before even answering machines — yes, I am that old). Late in the afternoon, they decided to just drop me off at home.
Like most drop-offs of the era, there was no parent-to-parent kid transfer. They barely slowed at my curb, they were so eager to get rid of me and get on with their lives. I hardly noticed nor did I flinch at the empty house. I had years of practice breaking into my home. On this particular day, I climbed up on the shed wherein our laundry machines were kept. From there I leaped to my second-story sill where I managed to wedge the window open with my freer hand (I had a practiced technique).

My room was lovely in the late afternoon, glowing. My mother and grandmother had papered the walls with yellow and white gingham. I had eyelet curtains with huge princess blue satin bows that matched my bed cover. The ballet bar, the dresser, the vanity, the Barbie Dream House — all was in order. I loved my room and I hung out there for a while. When darkness fell, I realized that my brother wasn’t there. It was usual for my folks to not be there, but no Jacques! Quelle horreur!

I went to check on him. His room was empty — not just of him, but of all his things including the purple grass mask that hung by his exposed light switch that scared the hell out of me (the mask AND the risk of shock). There was no bed, no dresser, no desk, no Rocket Tubes, no Jacques. Nothing.

Moving on, I went downstairs. The living room was barren, exposing only the charred circles of burned shag carpeting that stood witness to the hours alone my brother and I spent at home. The kitchen was empty. My parent’s bedroom was empty. The dog was gone. The cat was gone. I was utterly alone. The family had moved and they left my stuff and me behind.

(Whatever: Don’t feel sorry for me and don’t hate on my parents. You weren’t there. They worked hard at lousy paying jobs and that’s just the way it was. Also, that’s not what the story is about. This story is from the perspective of an 11 year-old who DID NOT WANT TO MOVE. Hate on the parents for that.)

10 thoughts on “When Darkness Fell

  1. CB says:

    This just bears witness to the pattern of our conversations. Somehow, I thought your parents had put everything outside and were rearranging. I didn't even get that they had moved without you! Clearly, a part deux is called for.

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