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West Columbia

Back here in the city brush, I find the house I grew up in.  The windows are fogged up with dust and its long sun-baked driveway is splintered with fault lines.  It yawns at me hauntedly, set back from the leafless Martian trees of the city park.  There are cars parked in the front yard, but I ignore them.   I walk around the side of the house and find the old sandbox that I would play in almost naked, where my parents took Polaroids of me when I was happy.  I go around back and there’s the deck where I stood outside eating Jello and watching the dark clouds swirling during Hurricane Hugo, which turned the neighborhood to rubble.  There’s the screened-in porch—one year at Christmas the front doorbell rang and my parents sent me out to run and get it.  When I opened the front door, no one was there.  When I turned around, I saw Santa Claus coming through the Chimney, several seconds I will describe as the most magical in my life.  It could be argued that Santa came in the back door through the patio, but that would be purposelessly crushing dreams.  Inside, the big living room with the bay windows where we would open presents and where I was really happy.  There’s the banister staircase where I waited and could feel the strange ambient anxiety when my parents came in the house with my newborn brother Ben.  Up the huge, distortedly big stairs is my bedroom, where I would have dreams of seeing through the house’s thin walls and out into the clear cold sky; in the brisk dark sky, what I saw was terrifying, a giant hand, with long green fingernails beckoning me to come out and join it.  I piled deeper into my blankets, and I could see it all happening without having to look—I would’t go to it, so it was coming to me.  The monsters flooded in from outside, tearing down the doors into the house and piling up the stairs, knocking and splintering at my door before coming in like a swarm and overtaking me.  The other dreams and alternate realities of childhood-through the black gates I can’t tell what was real and what was fiction.  Getting chased down dirt roads on bicycles.  A video that we watched about a girl who could go through a looking-glass, and ended up in a middle of nowhere cow pasture.  The cow pasture turned out to be a metaphor for death, as in “putting someone out to pasture”, because her grandmother had just died and the movie suggested that she would be reincarnated as a cow.  The girl went back through the looking glass to the attic of her mother’s house, and dealt with her grandmothers death in a respectful and mature way.



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