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English 401-Advanced Composition

Leaving Home
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Creative Writing Short Story

Leaving Home

 

            “Mom, I’m all packed and ready to go.  What time did you say our flight leaves tomorrow?”  Amber asked as she came down the stairs.  She bounced into the room with all of the energy of a typical 19-year old; tall, blonde, and totally oblivious to the excruciating pain that filled my heart. 

Silence loomed all around.  The only sound that could be heard was the tick-tock-tick-tock of the antique grandfather clock in the foyer as she asked, “Mom, did you hear me?  Mom?”

I just stood there staring off into space.  I heard every word she said, but my mind wasn’t registering a thing.  I was lost deep in thought as I stood at the living room window and watched the puffy, white flakes of snow fall from the black, cloudy sky.  The wind was howling, causing drifts to form along the porch.  I was trying to remember exactly how many times I had watched it snow from this very window; how many of everything I had seen from this window.  We had just celebrated Christmas, but my heart was breaking as I realized this was the last holiday or the last of anything I would ever spend in this house.  My thoughts went back to the very first time I saw this house.  Moving here with my parents at the age of 5, I thought I had entered a fairy tale world.  But my fairy tale didn’t last very long.  This house not only held my best and favorite memories, but it was also the jailer of my worst and most horrific memory. 

The white clapboard farmhouse with the shiny, black metal roof sat in the middle of a 110-acre farm my great-grandfather bought in the early 1900’s.  He built the house himself and said that, besides his children, this was his greatest accomplishment in life. The house started out small, only three rooms to begin with, but as the family grew, so did the house.  In the years since then, it has grown into what some would call a fine estate.  The front porch was built in sections to wrap around the house.  I could still see Amber and her cousins riding their tricycles on the porch when it rained.  I remember all of the food that lined the railing after my grandfather’s funeral, when everyone from the community came to pay their respects and reminisce about the great man he was. 

In the spring, tulips and daffodils line the driveway.  The red, yellow, and white flowers signaled the arrival of the heat and humidity that Kentucky was known for.  But now we were encased in a wintry white blanket that seemed to make one feel as if the sun would never shine again.  Darkness lasted far longer than the daylight this time of year, giving a sense of finality, and I guess that would be appropriate since our move was final.

I felt Amber’s hand on my shoulder, bringing me back to reality.  I turned to look at her, realizing at that moment how grown up she really was.  Her baby blue eyes sparkled with excitement, as she had always wanted to live in New York.  This time we were following her dreams and I was leaving mine behind.  But there was nothing left to keep me here anymore.  The old homestead had been sold and the new owners were ready to take possession in two days.  All that was left was meeting the moving van in the morning and getting to the airport for our 10:00 a.m. flight. 

“I’m sorry dear, what were you saying?” I asked her politely as I tried to seem happy. 

It was obvious I had my apprehensions about this move, but I would do anything for this child of mine.  She is the one who had been with me and seen me through some of the best and one of the worst times of my life.  She sometimes remarked that, “I always thought that I wanted a little brother or sister, but being an only child does have its perks!”

She stared at me intently and asked, “Mom, where were you just now?  I’ve been talking to you ever since I started down the stairs and you never responded, you never moved.  Is everything o.k.?” 

“Yes, dear, everything is fine.  I was just reminiscing about all of the wonderful years we’ve spent here,” I replied.  “Do you have everything ready to leave in the morning?”

“My stuff is sitting by the door.  I talked to Mr. Bloom and he said he would stop by after lunch tomorrow to make sure there wasn’t anything we needed.  I just hope I packed enough to get us through until the moving van arrives,” she stated.

“Oh, I’m sure you did.  Go on to bed now, we have an early morning and a long day ahead of us,” I said wearily.

“O.k. mom.  But you’d better get some rest too! Goodnight,” she said, softly kissing my cheek before running up the stairs and to her room.

I slowly walked from room to room, taking in all of the loneliness I felt as I scanned the bare walls.  I could picture in my mind the exact location of every piece of furniture that had once filled each room.  In the spacious and airy kitchen, I could see the long picnic-style table that use to be filled with my ever rambunctious brood of nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, their spouses, and the occasional friend who would drop by during Sunday afternoon lunch.  Kingston, our faithful dog, and Tiger, the languorous cat would be under the table eagerly awaiting the crumbs that were dropped, or sometimes placed on the floor, for their consumption.  The animals are now a distant memory, as we couldn’t take them with us to live in the city, so they were both adopted by good families.  Amber and I have been assured that they would be well taken care of and loved, and we feel better knowing that they have good homes. 

Most of our furniture was sold or given to Goodwill.  We certainly didn’t need our old country furniture with the nicks, repaired with whatever we could find to hold it together with at the moment, and covered to hide the defects.  None of our things would look good in the city if we didn’t want to be considered “country bumpkins”, and our loft in SoHo was almost fully furnished. This was a matter of “out with the old and in with the new”.  Our new home definitely won’t have the charm of the old homestead, but it will be interesting with the retro furniture and decorations our landlord has used.

Although it was difficult to part with the furniture and other memories that have made up the last 40 years of my life, the hardest part of moving will be leaving my family, friends, and the love of my life, my husband, Gary.  Gary and I met when I was still a shy, innocent, and inexperienced 15-year old.  We started out as friends because I was dating his best friend, and co-worker, Thomas.  Thomas and I eventually broke up, and shortly thereafter, Gary and I began to see each other.  He was a few years older than I was, so I always feared that he would leave me behind as soon as he graduated.  I got lucky, though, when he waited around for me to graduate so that we could be together. 

Ours was a true love story, the kind that famous writers turn into a book.  We had the fairy tale wedding with all of our friends and family in attendance, the week-long honeymoon in Hawaii, and exactly nine-months later, we had our beautiful daughter, Amber.  I couldn’t have asked for a better life.  Gary worked to support our family, while I went back to college to finish my degree in education.  After I graduated, I began to teach English at the local high school. 

Everyone in town commented that we had the perfect family, and we did, at least for the first seventeen years.  Then tragedy struck our family and life as we knew it ceased.  Amber had just celebrated her birthday, while Gary and I were planning our wedding anniversary.  Although this wasn’t our 20th anniversary, we were still planning a romantic second honeymoon in Paris.  Gary had made all of the arrangements and we were scheduled to leave the second week in October, which was coinciding with my fall break from school.  Being the one to plan ahead, while Gary procrastinated, I already had our bags packed and was ready to go.

The morning of our flight dawned and I arose to make the final preparations.  Being the overly protective mother I am, I worried about leaving Amber by herself for the first time.  I just wanted to double-check and make sure I had left her every number available where she could reach us in case of an emergency.  As I stood in the kitchen going over my list, the phone rang and life as I knew it suddenly came to an abrupt halt.

“Hello,” I answered cheerfully, anticipating the wonderfully romantic week ahead of me.   

Victoria, this is Mike,” came the voice on the other end of the line.  Mike had been Gary’s co-worker for the last 10 years.  He and his wife, Kathy, had been friends of ours for about as long.

“Good morning, Mike.  Gary’s not here.  He ran down to the plant to take care of a few last minute details before we leave. But I expect him home any minute now,” I replied.

Victoria, listen to me and listen carefully,” Mike began. “I saw Gary this morning.  We went over the report from the auditors, again, and then I told him to go before he made you miss your flight. A few minutes later I got a page from the front desk stating we had a Code Blue.  Victoria, when I got there, it was Gary.  He’s been rushed to the hospital.” 

I must have been in shock as I asked, “Mike, what do you mean rushed to the hospital?  Is he alright?  What happened?”

“I’m not sure, but I think he may have had a heart attack,” Mike almost cried into the phone.  “I am on my way and will meet you there.”

I don’t remember hanging up the phone, and I certainly don’t remember driving to the hospital, but somehow I found myself standing in the middle of the emergency room staring at four walls.  Mike walked in not two seconds later, asking me what I had found out.

“I just got here and I haven’t seen anyone,” I cried to him.  “I don’t know what to do or who to even ask.”

Mike took me by the arm and led me to a chair.  “Sit here and I will see what I can find out.”

Minutes seemed to tick by at a snails pace as I sat and waited for news. All I could do was cry, wring my hands, wonder where my husband was, and what had happened to him.  As I looked up at the clock on the wall, it dawned to me that we should be at the airport right now, waiting to board our flight for Paris. 

“Mrs. Ryan?   I’m Dr. Fowler.  I was here when they brought your husband in,” he began. 

“How is he?” I asked. “What happened? Where is he? Can I see him?”  I was firing questions at the doctor faster than he could answer them.

“Please, one question at a time,” he said calmly.  “It appears that your husband has had a massive heart attack.  He has a blockage in two of his main arteries.  We can’t operate at the moment because he is too unstable.  We’ve done all that we can do for now but hopefully, if his condition improves over the next few days, we can repair the damage. We have him on a respirator and life support, which I’m sure will be very overwhelming for you when you see him.  They’re in the process of moving him to the ICU, so you will be able to see him shortly.”

Mike was standing behind me the entire time, and as the doctor walked off I just stood there, numb.  Mike took my arm and slowly led me back to a chair.  About fifteen minutes later, a nurse entered to tell us that Gary was now in a room and I could see him.  We walked down the hall in silence, both wondering how Gary truly was and what would happen next.

As we reached the ICU wing, I asked Mike to find Amber and bring her to the hospital.  I didn’t want anyone to call her because I knew that she would be upset and I didn’t want her driving to the hospital in that condition.  She had always been “daddy’s little girl” and the news that he was in the hospital would upset her terribly.

I entered Gary’s room slowly, taking in all of the wires, tubes, monitors for his blood pressure and pulse, IV fluids being pumped into his body, and the continuous beeping of machines that were keeping him alive.  The nurse came around the corner of his bed and laid a hand on my shoulder.

“Sit by him, hold his hand and talk to him,” she stated.  “Even though he is unconscious, I’m sure that he can hear you.”

I did as she said, holding onto the hand that bore his wedding ring.  Softly stroking his hair, I leaned over and kissed his forehead, taking in the scent of the cologne he has worn for as long as I could remember. 

Gary,” I began. “It’s me, I’m here now sweetheart.  Everything is going to be alright.” 

I began to talk to him about our life together, starting with how we met.  I reminisced about our wedding, the birth of Amber, the happy years we have had, and the trip we would still take to Paris, as soon as he was better.  Thirty minutes had passed and I was beginning to wonder if Mike had found Amber, and why she wasn’t here yet.  Suddenly, Amber walked into the room and stood at the end of the bed, looking very somber.  Her red, puffy eyes and tear streaked face broke my heart.  I went to stand beside her, wrapp