THE HOUSE ON WOOD

“I am always drawn back to the places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods.”

Joe Philips avoided it like the plague.

Everyone was gone. His Mom and Dad having passed twenty-five and five years respectively. It’s in new hands now. Reports of her demise were greatly ignored. Memories Philips had skirted out of there are well preserved. They serve as the only reminder he’ll ever acknowledge.

It was a wonderful home, that house on Wood Street. A proper and noble home. Three generations had warmed their hearts on her hearth. Rebuilt and remodeled on many occasions; reconfigured to accommodate the families as they changed. Her last transformation gave Joe and his five siblings the root from which to grow strong. It wasn’t wrong that their father would steal a room from the upstairs apartment to give sanctuary to his growing brood.

But, when Mom passed away, the fracture that resulted made its gradual expansion until all were affected. Dad remained alone, and Joe watched him sink further into his alcoholism. The ability to cope with the loss of the matriarch was nothing for which Mr.Philips was prepared.
And coming back “home” seemed less and less that. Familiarity was not a frequent visitor.

Twenty years later, Dad became afflicted with liver cancer. Joe returned to care for his sole parent. The closer to the father’s end, the more this place made Joe feel like he belonged. Unfortunately, the disposal of his father’s estate and their familial home stripped Joe of that comfort.

The tract was changed. The windows were shuttered. The wide-open yard was sequestered behind a high stockade fence. So much to keep secrets in, as strangers out. The whole neighborhood became a foreign land; an uncharted territory. It was an unsavory destination. Joe recalled a line from Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.

“I am always drawn back to the places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods.”

Joe concluded the author was full of shit.

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