In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Our House.”
Most of us want our first childhood memories to be wonderful. A loving mom and dad, maybe a brother or sister to play with, the smell of cookies and homemade bread. Maybe memories of our room and how it was arranged and some favorite toys. It sounds really nice. At what age do most of us have our first memories. Probably at 3 or 4 years old there are bits and pieces for most people. Not me. My first memories are at seventeen months old. You say, “No. No one remembers that far back.” I’m here to say,” I do.” But they are not good memories. In fact, if you are squeamish, or can’t bear reading something bordering on a horror story then you should stop reading right here. I’ve published several poems hinting about my beginnings and how one incident affected my entire life. Here’s the matter of fact happenings that still hold strong in my memory. What I actually remember from the evening of October 31, 1949.
It was dark. I was in my crib in the little nook just off the kitchen. There was no door. I could hear my mom. I remember her voice, usually quiet and soft when she sang to me. Not tonight. Tonight her voice was loud and urgent and there was another voice, louder, fierce, scary. I was crying and trying to see through the bars. The dark shadow figures moved angrily about the kitchen. I wanted to go to my mom but I couldn’t. The bars wouldn’t let me. The voices were louder and I didn’t know what they were saying. All I understood was the frightening loudness just beyond me. Then suddenly the boom and nothing for a moment until the next startling boom. Then, silence. It seemed like the silence went on forever. I think I must have slept as I remember nothing for a while. People. I hear them. They are scurrying around, voices are a mixture of loud and hushed. Some are sobbing voices. My dad is there. He takes me from the crib and we are outside. I remember him holding me in his arms on the front porch. People are rushing all around us. That is my first memories. Those memories turned into nightmares that came to torture me every night from then on. Every night I relived the sounds of that evening. Every night I cried. Every night from then on I tried so hard not to go to sleep. When I slept, I saw the shadows. and the bars, and I heard the voices until the booming would wake me. Every time I slept, the whole scene would play again. I tried not to sleep. I missed my mom. My mom never came to me again.
For many years, we drove that street. The street my house was on.We drove past it never stopping. I would look at the house and remember dad holding me. I knew the living room was in the front and the kitchen behind. The little addition on the side of the house next to the kitchen was my room. There was another bedroom on the other side of the house, through the living room.
When I was eight we were going to a friend’s house and as usual we drove past the house. It was on a main street on the west side of town. It was C street and was also the main way out-of-town from the west side. I was with my mom. A different mom. I knew she was different but no one ever explained that to me. I just knew she was different. I knew I had always ,as long as I could remember, called her mom, but she was different. That day I asked her. “Why don’t we ever go to that house anymore?” She gasped, I mean really gasped and almost turned white in color. She pulled the car over to the curb saying, “Who’s been telling you about that house?” I told her no one but I remembered going there and being there. She said, “You can’t remember that.” I asked again about going there and she told me not to worry about that house that we didn’t know anyone there anymore.
When I was thirteen, I found out the truth, accidentally. I read some old newspaper articles I found in a drawer. A man had come into the house that evening after my dad had gone to work. He shot my mom and then turned the gun on himself there in the kitchen, just steps from my room………..