Sunday, November 6, 2011

Only a Door

Strange, perhaps, that when I think of that house, 2613, the first image that appears in my head is a door. A door probably wouldn't cause very much anxiety for most people, but a door and a door alone hid the truth about us from people. All anyone would have to do was open that door, and the burden would be lifted from us. But no one opened the door. No one asked why they couldn't. No one questioned anything, and I still don't quite understand that.


When my mom picks us up from the neighbor next door, my anxiety rises as we cross into our yard and walk toward our front door. I don't want to go in. As she opens the glass door and fumbles to unlock the wooden door with her key, we can hear our two mixed chihuahua/dachshund dogs fumble through the trash in the foyer. I wonder if people can hear that when they knock on our door. The dogs bark and make such a fuss. I wonder if people are curious as to all the calamity. I don't know anyone who keeps a bunch of trash in their foyer, so I don't know how people don't suspect something. Mom can only narrowly open the door as we squeeze through. The trash bags are even behind the door, so it only opens enough for us to push our way through. Brandi and Misty, our mixed mutts, greet us happily with tails wagging. Our friends. As I squeeze through the door I notice the mouse hole to the right wall right above the baseboard. It's getting bigger as the mice have chewed through the sheet rock. I imagine one of the dogs could slide in there if they wanted. I step over piles of laundry and trash dispersed over the floor trying to balance and lug my red book bag. 

I turn to the right toward the side of our house that has the three bedrooms. If I turn to the left I would walk toward the kitchen and the living area which we never use. The trash is piled so high in both rooms that it is impossible to navigate anywhere. There is nowhere to sit any longer. The mice have taken over both couches. They have chewed through the tapestry and made their nests inside the frames of the couches. Not to mention the dogs now use that one corner in the house... the corner where we use to set up the Christmas tree... as their preferred "bathroom." That doesn't get disposed of either. None of this trash leaves the home.

There is a back door in the living room that leads out of the house to the back yard. However, the trash is piled especially tall there, taller than myself, and that door never gets used.

The kitchen is full of worthless appliances. The stove does not work. We don't have gas or heat. The refrigerator does not work. It stinks, has dead bugs and has food several years old inside. We don't dare open it. It is not cold, so I'm unsure if it is unplugged or just out of service. I have not used the sink in the kitchen in years or sat at the kitchen table. Dishes and trash cover the table my dad crafted himself. Excess food cakes the wood - mostly ketchup. I can not remember the last time my mom cooked dinner in the kitchen. I know she use to. We use to sit at the table, too. The counters are covered in filth, dead overturned roaches, mouse droppings, and dishes that haven't been washed in years. If I go disturb anything on that counter dozens of bugs scatter from their hiding places, and mice dart to new hang outs. The cabinets are open but mostly bare.

I never enter either room any longer but only follow the path to our room. My brother first departs to his, and then we split from our mother at the end of the hall because our room faced hers.

Watching her from my room, I see Mom slip off her high heal shoes leaving on her dress and pantyhose. She plops on her queen sized bed that sits opposite side of her bedroom door. She always has to sleep on the right side as you face the bed. The other side is piled with clothes and trash. Mom lights a cigarette and I admire her beautiful long nails. She lifts her chin, closes her eyes, and inhales deeply. I have her mannerisms memorized. I imagine I could mimic her perfectly if I ever chose to smoke. I know how to hold my hand, inhale and flick the ashes. She picks up the phone. I'm not sure who she calls, but Mom will be on the phone the rest of the evening. She still makes us go to bed at 8, even though I'm in junior high. She will sit on her bed until bed time. I don't know what my mom sleeps in. I have never seen her in pajamas.

My sister and I go and sit on our bed. It's the only place we can sit. I pull out my algebra book and start working on my homework. I don't understand and feel like crying. I'm too proud to say I should not be in advanced algebra. I have been advanced to all honors classes, and I'm acing everything but algebra. I don't want to be in regular classes and my classmates notice that I have been "demoted" to regular math. I am struggling and know I won't do well on Mr. G's mini quiz tomorrow. For the rest of my junior high career I will spend my entire evenings working on my algebra homework. I am nothing if not a good student and don't want to accept this failure. I do not want to be regular.

I wish I had a desk to do homework on. My neck begins to hurt as I bend over my algebra book. I readjust and try to maneuver myself somehow so that I can be covered by the electric blanket and do my homework. It is so cold, and I just can't understand the equations. I am anxious and sad.

The doorbell rings. The dogs bark and chase toward the front door. I am sick at my stomach and Jessica and I panic. We know to be very quiet and pretend not to be home. I tiptoe to the foyer as the dogs bark at whoever is behind the door. I can't go near the door because it would be possible for the person to hear me as I crush the trash below my feet. 

The doorbell rings again. Someone is persistent, and we get more paranoid. No one can see the inside of the house. I finally make my way to the peephole and see the top of a child's head. The peephole acts as a fisheye lens, but I can make out that it is a neighbor kid wanting to ask if we can come out and play. If I were to open the door he could see the trash in the foyer, smell the stink of the house, or see the hole in the sheet rock. So I watch as the neighbor gives up and leaves.

I am too old to play with neighborhood kids anyway. But that's all I can do. I can't go on dates. I can't have my friends over. I can't go hang out with kids my age. 

I become more and more withdrawn, more anxious, and even more sad. People have begun to comment on how shy I have become. They don't ask why, though. No one asks me if anything is wrong. I stare through the peephole wishing I could open the door to this kid who is five years younger than me. I would be happy to go outside and play. But, today, I can't even do that. 

I hate this door.

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