Home Sweet Home
By Evie McMillin (age 12)
Home tried to stay as optimistic as possible. He always tried to look on the bright side, but some things didn’t always have a bright side. Home had only 3 weeks before the construction workers would come to tear him down. This wouldn’t have bothered Home so much if Elsie wasn’t so upset.
Elsie was a short second grade girl. She had blonde, curly, pigtails that were on the top of her head and she tended to wear overalls. Elsie also was extremely sensitive to…well, really everything. Elsie sobbed when she tore a stuffed animal, or ripped a blanket, or saw a fish, dead in a pet store.
Home normally had plenty of time to observe the people that lived in the house. He knew just as much about them as they knew about themselves. Being a house is like being able to watch a reality show that never ends, a show that can be boring…or entertaining, but it is always lonely.
It looked like maybe this was the end of being lonely and bored, or—maybe just more boredom awaited Home. Either way this house was going to make the most of every moment it had left. Home directed all of its attention to the sniffling Elsie sitting on the porch.
“Oh, how come nothing is ever fair?” Elsie whined. Her puffy blonde pigtails looked slightly deflated. “My own home, destroyed!”
Could be worse, thought Home, at least something will be built here after I’m gone.
“Why such a cruel, vile world?” Elsie looked as if she might continue after this comment, but instead she paused. Her tears stopped. “Vile,” She repeated. “Vile, that is a good word!”
Home would have grinned if he could have, but unfortunately he could not, he knew what Elsie would do next.
Just as Home had suspected, Elsie opened her green composition book of “Really Good and Sometimes Long Words” and wrote vile on a half filled page. Today she didn’t bother writing the definition beside it.
Home knew most of the words in Elsie’s book by heart. She often left the book open so it was easy for Home to read it-most of the time. Right now Elsie held the book barely out of his view.
No sooner had the book been closed that Elsie burst back into hysterics. Her face turned bright pink and her eyes filled with tears once again. Home wished Elsie could stay happy for more than a few seconds; he had really hoped she would be happy on his last day.
Day had turned to night and the air was getting cold and crisp, Elsie’s family stood in the yard along with a couple of family friends.
“Elsie, it is time to go,” Elsie’s father said, clearly reluctant to leave himself.
Elsie sniffled but, begrudgingly, rose to her feet and ran over to her parents and two year old brother. Home would have smiled if he could. A glum happiness fell over him. The family would be better off in a different house, the house that would replace him.
“Say goodbye to our house,” the mother cooed to her children.
“G’bye,” Elias, the two year old, babbled.
Elsie was inside the car and leaning out the window as she said her farewells.
“Goodbye, home sweet home!” She shouted as they drove away, she waved her arm out the window. “I’ll miss you!”
The familiar red van drove away, leaving the neighborhood silent. “Goodbye, home sweet home!” He could still practically hear Elsie’s voice ringing through his mind.
With his last few weeks he would reflect on all the families who had inhabited him. Memories were all he had left. Memories of how he got every crack in the wall, squeaky stair, and crayon-covered door.
“Goodbye, home sweet home,” he thought.
Home sweet home.
The Infamous Game of Indoor Football
There was a nasty crack at the end of the hallway on the second floor, one that had a story that was one of Home’s favorites. The story was often referred to as “The Infamous Game of Indoor Football.”
The Infamous Game of Indoor Football had started as a gloomy day. Thunder sounded and lightning lit up the sky. This day was long before Elsie’s family had moved in.
Thomas was the youngest boy of the family who had lived there. There were two other boys: Liam (the oldest) and Emmet (the middle child). There was only one little girl in this family, her name was Daisy.
“But you promised we’d play football today!” Thomas whined to Emmet. “You really promised!”
“I know Thomas…” Emmet looked at his siblings hoping they’d help him out. “But it is so cold and wet and stormy! Thomas don’t look at me like that.”
Thomas had collapsed on the floor clutching his football and looking up at Emmet pitifully.
Emmet bit his lip, once again seeking help from his siblings.
“You did promise,” Daisy twirled a lock of golden hair innocently. “You need to play with him.”
Emmet shifted his gaze to Liam who shrugged and nodded in agreement.
Thomas jumped to his feet, “See Emmet, even they agree!”
“It’s too cold to play outside today.” Emmet was not about to go out into the storm to play football.
“But you promised,” Thomas sobbed. “We could just play inside!”
Emmet was hesitant. “Mom and Dad aren’t her to say no…” He took the football from Thomas. “Fine.”
Liam promptly asked if he could play and Emmet had said yes, so Daisy said she was going to play too then.
Soon the teams were set. It would be Emmet and Daisy against Liam and Thomas.
“Okay, so the end table at the end of the hallway is the one goalpost, we’ll only have one to keep it simple. Whichever team gets the foot ball to hit the end table gets one point and the first team to five points wins.” Emmet explained.
“That doesn’t sound like football,” Thomas protested.
“We are playing in a family room-we aren’t gonna follow all the rules!”
Thomas grew silent, but got into position to grab the ball.
“Okay, ready…set…go!” Emmet shouted.
And with that, all of the children took off running towards the ball. Thomas was overjoyed at the fact that he could tackle, and promptly pummeled Emmet at the first chance he got. And then the second chance, and the third, and the fourth…and the fifteenth.
Emmet was incredibly unhappy with Thomas—he always had the ball and always attacked him! His little baby brother was beating him at family room football! Emmet would get a touchdown and wipe that smug grin off Thomas’s face!
The ball flew out of Thomas’s hands as he attempted to throw it onto the coffee table but had missed by a couple feet.
All of the children went barreling towards the ball-Emmet ahead by only sheer willpower to beat his little brother. He was merely a foot away from the ball now, he picked up speed.
“Emmet! Stop!” Daisy screeched. But Emmet couldn’t hear her over the sound of future victory.
He could feel the leather of the ball graze the palm of his hand. He had just missed grabbing it, and was now about to make contact with the wall. Bam! Home winced as Emmet hit his head on the wall, a small crack appearing where his head had been.
“Yow!” Emmet doubled back in pain clutching his head. “Ouch! Ow!”
His siblings quickly got ice and decided not to tell their parents about how the crack had gotten there.
Home felt an inevitable feeling of happiness from this memory. He remembered it so well, he loved all the feeling he got from it.
The next memory Home recalled was the family before that one: a young couple and their three year old boy, Jack. Home had always taken a liking to Jack, the boy had a very distinctive personalty; he was quite imaginative as well.
Jack had gotten a new pack of crayons and was drawing a wide variety of pictures with them. He had drawn a rather satisfying doodle and was moving on to the next when something happened-he was out, out of paper!
Frantically, Jack searched around, looking for a surface he could draw on. The only thing nearby was the wall—a perfect, flat, plain white, wall. Jack didn’t hesitate raising his pristine teal crayon and making a long mark down the wall. Then he picked up green, orange, purple, indigo and yellow crayons and drawing all over the wall.
Colors exploded like fireworks onto the wall, each crayon more vibrant then the last. Jack scribbled like his life depended on it, his pale brown hair frizzing out like a mad scientist’s.
Jack didn’t stop until he had finished his intricate…dog? Person? Sun? Cat? What ever it was it wasn’t as big as Home had hoped—it wasn’t a mural that stretched from one end of the wall to the other. It was still good, but not from Jack’s parents point of view.
After being firmly scolded to go to his room Jack pouted himself to sleep, making sure to tuck a red crayon under his pillow for good luck.
A couple hours later the feisty three year old awoke from his nap and dragged his crayon down his wall. The line reached all the way to the floor and branched out like a tree all the way up it.
“Bang!” Jack whispered every time he made a new mark on the wall. “Bang! Bang, bang…BANG!”
Jack had said the last “bang” slightly louder than intended and one of his parents came strolling into the room.
“Jack!” His mother was saying this, “Jack, stop that right this instant!”
Jack dropped his crayon and hid his face in his hands.
“Sorry.” He whispered, his voice escaping through the gaps between his small fingers.
His mom picked him up and carried him into the family room. “What am I gonna do with you?”
His mother had already scrubbed crayon off one wall today, and was not looking forward to doing so again.
Jack was so sad he had upset his mother, but by now he had gotten the taste for art, seeking out new objects to draw on.
The next morning Jack was on close supervision by his father who had given him a new notebook. The book was thick but not heavy and perfect for crayons.
Jack had scribbled on all 200 pages by the end of the month, the little boy refused to stop drawing, unless he could watch TV that is.
Home loved this memory because of all the colors and warm feelings it brought back to him. It was also nice to note that Jack had become an awarded artist when he grew up, recognized for his work painted on walls.
The Unfinished Treehouse
When Thomas grew to the age of seven he began asking for a treehouse. A treehouse just for him and no one else, a rare thing for him to have. He wanted somewhere for him and his friends to play pirate together and his eighth birthday seemed like the perfect day to ask.
Two weeks before his birthday Thomas asked his father if they could build one together, it would be for his birthday present. Surprisingly, his dad didn’t say no, promising they’d do it the next day.
“Dad said I could build one for my birthday!” Thomas gloated to Emmet that night. “He really said yes!”
“Yeah, cool.” Emmet was unenthusiastic towards Thomas’s birthday, and birthdays in general.
“I promise he said it!”
“I didn’t say he did not.”
Thomas had hopped onto Emmet’s quilted bed. “It will be perfect for playing pirates! So, so perfect!”
Emmet tried to shoo Thomas off his bed so he could resume his reading but wasn’t even slightly successful. Eventually, he resorted to reading with Thomas beside him.
Everyday, Thomas told his siblings about his future treehouse, bragging about how spectacular it would be, even though he was beginning to lose interest in the idea.
It was on the Tuesday before his birthday that they started working on it. Bright autumn leaves covered the tree where the treehouse would sit—most of the leaves were to stubborn to fall off yet.
Thomas and his father worked on the floor, the main platform for the new treehouse. Thomas was delighted as they worked, but the little boy quickly tired, leaving the floor half finished.
The next day, Thomas was practicing tying knots when his father reminded him they needed to work on the house. Thomas almost groaned when he heard this, but he didn’t—he wouldn’t upset his father like that.
They made even less progress that day—the air had turned a nasty cold that nipped at their faces and uncovered fingers. But they had started the ladder that day.
Thomas was bored of trying to make a treehouse but didn’t let it show. He snatched a book from his brothers bookshelf that night and read it aloud. It was about a young boy named Henry Huggins. Henry had a bike that he rode around on—Thomas remembered that his bike no longer fit him. Maybe he could ask for that for his birthday.
At the time when Thomas normally talked about his treehouse he began talking about a bike. The treehouse building screeched to a halt leaving no more than half a floor and an unfinished ladder dangling from the tree.
On Thomas’s birthday he got a bike.
Home had always loved the idea of tree houses, he had wished he was one many times—it would be like flying, he thought. So many young children would play right where he could see and hear their stories. It would have been perfect.
The Monsters Under The Stair
Not even Home knew why the ninth stair squeaked so much, it had started out of nowhere and no one rally cared about it…except for Jack.
The small boy had grown to the age of nine, and his family had gained a five year old boy, as well as a basset hound. The younger boy was named Jasper and the dog was named Tubby.
Jasper, who found the squeaky stair very amusing, would stomp as hard as he could on the step, causing horrid squeaks to echo through the house.
“It sounds like you’re strangling a family of mice down there!” Jack would shout. Quite the odd thing for him to shout too, he was normally a quiet boy.
Every time Jasper stomped on the step his parents would sweep him away, telling him that he was going to break the stairs.
Jasper never seemed to care, unlike Jack, who had drawn on the walls, it took much more than three tries to get him to stop.
One day when Jasper got home and went up the staircase, stomping on the squeaky stairs three times, his mother did more than give him a lecture. Jasper was sent to his room where he sat on the carpet and howled in anguish, his cheeks and nose turning a bright crimson.
Tubby, who assumed that it was a dog howling, howled along with Jasper. Jack found it increasingly difficult to work on arithmetic while his brother and dog howled.
Jack marched out of his room and scooped Tubby up from where he sat in the hallway. He then forcefully shushed Tubby and went into his little brother’s room.
“Get out of here Jack!” Jasper whimpered, “I want to be alone!”
“Okay,” Jack responded setting Tubby on the floor, “Why are you crying?”
Jasper looked up in astonishment, “Leave me alone!”
“You know why you can’t stomp on the floor?” Jack asked, grasping Jasper’s attention. “Because you’ll wake up the monsters. They are the size of your foot and are blue and sleep all the time—if you wake them up they get angry and will eat all your candy.”
Jasper gasped, “No joking?”
Jasper grew quiet, glancing nervously at the large canvas bag filled with candy in the corner of the room.
“All of my candy?”
“All of it.”
Jasper turned once again to the bag before he scampered over to it and hugged it tightly in his arms.
The next day, Jasper avoided stepping on the squeaky stair altogether, much to Jack’s satisfaction.
Jack believed he had solved the problem when a week later Jasper still avoided the step. After awhile Jasper even forgot about the monsters and he even stepped on it normally, no longer caring that it squeaked.
His parents were stunned by the drastic change, and even more so by the fact that he talked to the stair…saying not to eat his candy.
Home wished there really were tiny monsters under the staircase; it would be fun to see them, despite the fact that they would sleep so much.
Home grew paranoid, acknowledging the fact that the construction workers would arrive in less than half a month. He hoped Elsie would come back one last time before the construction workers came.
He tried to recall memories of happier things: instead of squeaky stairs and cracked walls, memories of fixing things. The first memory was of Elsie—she and her father had sat down to fix the doorknob to Elsie’s door.
Elsie had only just recently turned five and gotten a toy set of tools. Elsie was thoroughly convinced that she herself would be a handyman er—woman, when she grew up.
“I am gonna fix stuff!” She declared proudly that morning. “I am gonna have real tools!”
“Oh yeah?” Her father responded fishing his toolbox out from under a box in the work room. “That sounds great Elsie!”
Elsie beamed with satisfaction, “I could fix that door knob all by myself!” She held up her hammer as if for proof, “With my trusty hammer!”
“I bet you will, but you will let me help won’t you?”
“Of course! I wouldn’t want my own daddy to feel left out!” Elsie placed her fists on her hips, her hammer still in hand. Her father directed her out of the workroom and up to her bedroom.
Elsie’s dad sat on the floor in front of the door and began to unscrew the door knob.
Elsie took her toy screwdriver out of her toy toolbox and began poking it at random places at the door.
“I am fixing it,” Elsie explained dutifully, her head raised slightly with pride. Elsie took a rubber hammer out of her tool box and banged it on the side of the door—the hammer let out a squeak.
Her dad, Mr. Robins, grinned and nodded; he then continued his own work, pulling the door knob out of its socket. He then screwed a different knob in.
Elsie grinned once the doorknob was secured, she tapped it with the tip of her hammer. Then Elsie picked up the doorknob that had previously been in it’s place and tucked it in her toolbox.
Elsie may have not enjoyed broken things, but if there was anything Elsie did like about them, it was fixing them. If anything ever broke Elsie got out her trusty toolkit (now just a screwdriver with different tops).
Home, Just Home
Home could vaguely remember a time before he was inhabited by a family of people, the time just after he’d been built.
The first thing that had happened was Home feeling the warmth of the sun, the feeling of life and being surrounded by life. Nothing could compare to the feeling of happiness he had had then.
Home had seen people walking along the sidewalk in front of him, some wearing bright orange hats and vests—equipment surrounded them. Home tried to walk around just like the people, but found he couldn’t move. He tried to say hello, but couldn’t do that either.
Hello, thought Home, good day to you.
No one responded; they all just hurried along with their work, then they stopped.
“Looks like we’re all done here!” One man said. he had a stubbly chin and bushy eyebrows. “That’s a fine looking home!”
Home would have grinned—Home, that must be my name! He thought gleefully.
After a long week of testing pipes and stairs and doors to make sure everything was in working condition, the construction workers filed out, hauling the equipment with them.
Home wondered what would happen next. His days were filled with watching birds, squirrels, and any other creature that happened to scamper into his view.
After a few weeks of watching cars zoom by Home, one finally entered the garage. A couple stepped out. A small baby boy lay sleeping in the mothers arms.
Home had never felt such delight! A family, a real family would move in!
The husband unloaded box after box from the car. A few moving trucks came and dropped off even more boxes. Furniture was assembled and paintings hung.
Home remembered feeling overjoyed that he was like a real house and not just an empty, lonely one.
Home recalled one memory in particular after Elsie’s family moved in. Elsie was four when they moved, and she was just about as excited to live in Home as he was that she was living there.
Elsie had run as fast as she could up the steps to the front porch. The first thing she did when she got to the front door was ring the doorbell about a million times. As soon as her parents had unlocked the door Elsie ran upstairs to her bedroom.
Once she entered, her face flushed crimson from running, she immediately noticed the intricate wood carving above where her bed would be. It had a carving of a crescent moon imbedded in it and Elsie immediately took a liking to it.
When Elias was born, Elsie’s parents had discussed moving Elsie into the bigger room and her brother into her room. Elsie had immediately declined this possibility because she wanted the room with the moon in it.
It was a short memory but Home enjoyed retelling the story to himself.
There was one other memory that Home loved, it was—
Home could here the rumble of construction equipment and saw men with bright orange hats. He tried to hang onto the memory of Elsie’s car driving away and Elsie leaning out the window saying goodbye. With one hit one of the approaching machines made impact with Home—then everything went black.
“You know, persistent is a good word. We needed to be persistent to finish this treehouse”
The first voice Home heard was Elsie’s—she as grinning from ear to ear and, appeared to be, the age of 11.
Home quickly noticed something else, he was flying! —Or just in a tree. Home was the treehouse, it was finished being built and was larger than Home had expected. A small table and 2 chairs sat in the corner of the room a familiar carving was built into the wall, it was the moon carving.
The space where Home had once been was occupied by a sleek modern house, it was much larger than Home had been. Home felt a sense of relief flood over him when he saw the house; it was a good house for Elsie.
Elsie was leaned against one wall—on the floor next to her was a toolbox that had “Property of Elsie Robins” painted on the side. She took a hammer and a nail out of the small toolbox, she then placed the nail carefully on the wall and banged it with the hammer about five times.
“Dad, can you hand me the picture?” Elsie asked holding her left hand out expectantly.
“What? This picture?” Mr. Robins picked up a framed picture and looked at it. “Surely you can’t mean this one?”
Elsie sighed, “Please, can you hand me the picture?”
Mr. Robins laughed and placed the picture in Elsie’s hand.
Elsie took the picture and hung it up on the nail, then she stood back to admire her handiwork.
Home took a look at the small painting and took a moment reading it. The words read, “Home Sweet Home” and above these words was a painting of a tree with a house in it.
Home would have grinned if he could have; he was a treehouse, he was in a tree! He would be able to see Elsie and Elias everyday from then on, and if not, he knew they’d be safe in the large house that had replaced him.
Elsie called to Elias that the tree house was finished. In perfect time Elias raced out of the front door and up the treehouse ladder, a red cape trailing behind him.
Home could hardly believe how much Elias and Elsie had grown—they were three years older since he’d last seen them. It felt odd not knowing what had happened in their life in the last couple years.
Even with all the people around him though, Home felt very alone; he ached for someone or something he could talk to he wished,S he had something that he could—
“Hello?” Home heard an unfamiliar voice say.
“Hello.” Thought Home.
To his surprise the other voice responded, “I am House, the brand new house.”
“I am Home,” Home thought back.
“I am glad to have company.”
“So am I.”
I don’t think that only living things have stories, so to express this I have wrote the story of Home, a house facing it’s own destruction. To incorporate the other stories of living creatures I have made it so Home is not necessarily reflecting on his own experiences, but the experiences of others and how they shaped his personalty. I was inspired to write this short story when we moved away from an old house, one that had been the setting for so many memories but was going to be destroyed. I started wondering about all the other families that had lived there and all the memories they had had. Slowly, the story of Home crept into my mind bringing Elsie and all the families with it. When I heard the theme of this years Reflections I knew this would be the perfect thing to submit because of all the stories intertwined into it.