My House at 12 (Part 1)
Assignment: Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.
I stare at the tip-toe smudges on my ceiling; in the bunk below, my sister mutters sleep-gibberish. She’s so lucky. Dreams rarely take me before midnight. My bed is high, built into a wall that formerly housed a closet. I flip myself backward by pushing on the ceiling. I do this a lot, which accounts for the footprints. I roll over and stare at bright red numbers, convinced the traitorous clock takes more than sixty seconds between minutes.
My window faces three streets; two are parallel to the front of our house and one intersects, in the shape of a capital H. Cars driving on the middle of the H aim straight at my window; the headlights brighten my room almost to daylight. On approach, the lights concentrate to the shape of my window on the opposite wall. If the driver turns left, the window reflection slides toward my bedroom door and is gone. If right, the reflection slides back the other way. My father likes the blinds turned down, so no one standing below the window can see in. I turn them the other way. The stripes of light that shine in help me guess which way the car will turn.
I flip again and my stuffed bear falls to the nubby brown carpet below. Deciding a bathroom break is in order anyway, I clamber down the wooden painter’s ladder. My father has promised to build a sturdier ladder attached to the bunk, but the worn wooden steps are familiar and I hope he forgets. Bear lands on my pillow with a soft fluff. Wow, I really need to vacuum. Are those cracker crumbs? Nope, dry play-doh crumbles. Gross. I still don’t understand why my parents couldn’t have adopted three older siblings for me. Younger ones are messy.
Before I leave the room, light filters through the blinds. I pause to see which way they turn. Wrong way. Not him. I head into the hall. Heated air blasts through the vent from the den downstairs, where our huge wood stove radiates. I hear my mother feed the roaring monster. Loud squeaks shiver my spine as she spins the cast iron vents down for the night. I pad into our late-70’s blue bathroom. The tiny night-light doesn’t even cast shadows, but I leave the light off. If I’m quick, she won’t notice I’m still awake.
Back in my room, I pull my little square black flashlight and A Wrinkle in Time from my pillowcase. Can’t sleep. Might as well enjoy being awake. Before I can settle in, lights streak across the dingy peach walls. The car turns toward our driveway, and–my room is brighter and brighter–he’s back! Relaxing into my pillow, I can sleep now; my father is home from work. Being alert for intruders, fire or tornadoes is only my job when he is absent. I can’t wait until they put him back on the day shift. Staying awake is for the birds. Or, actually, for the bats.
Almost asleep, I hear rustling in the kitchen. That means only one thing.