We had to leave immediately. Papa said so. Driven away by some unseen force, we fled what I thought of as our safe, secure home and went out into the vast world without an inkling as to where we were going. Well, that may not have been entirely true. Papa always seemed to know where we were going.
In fact, he always seemed to know a bit of everything, and so we followed, myself and my little brother David, because we loved him and because we had no other choice.
I was eleven years old, and this was my seventh move. I could say I’d grown used to the moving, but I’d be lying. No one ever gets used to picking up their entire lives time and again, being forced to find a new place, a new niche in the world.
For some kids, this kind of thing may have been easy.
Move to a new town. Make new friends. Play with new friends. Repeat.
But I wasn’t just some kid. I was what Papa called an odd duck. An odd duck waiting, always waiting, to transform into a nice, normal swan.
A day or two after leaving our sixth home, we landed at our seventh. It was a nice brick ranch. It was larger than what we were used to, three bedrooms and two baths. David and I wouldn’t have to share a room anymore, and I found that thought incredibly pleasing.
I shared my excitement with Papa, as we were getting settled in. He’d been on edge the last few days, and I kept trying desperately to cheer him up. We were unpacking boxes in the kitchen, one thing I could actually help with, and as I was filling one of the cabinets with our cups and glasses, I casually remarked, “I’m so glad I have my own room now.”
It happened fast, so fast that it took my mind a moment to catch up. One of the plates that Papa had been putting away in the cabinets whizzed past my ear and crashed unceremoniously against the wall behind me. I kept my eyes trained on Papa, whose face had gone red in anger. “You’ve always had your own room!” His words echoed in my head, over and over. “There is no David!”
No David? My mind raced. It couldn’t be true. David was just in the other room, playing with his toys. He had grown tired of helping us sort through boxes.
As I looked up at Papa, my eyes filled with tears. “I just want to go home.” I said quietly, and I could tell his anger was abating, because his gray eyes had softened.
He put me to bed early that night. After drying my tears and singing a quiet song, he laid me down in a soft pink bed, one that was achingly familiar to me.
The truth came crashing down on me suddenly and without warning.
There was no move. No David. No unpacking.
Just me, Papa, and my madness.
I sat up in my cozy pink bed and looked around a room that was my own, had always been my own. Somehow I knew that when I woke up in the morning I might be in a new place, a strange place. This moment of clarity was probably fleeting, destined to disappear into the madness once again.
The sanity would be fleeting, yes, but for now, my whispered wish from earlier had magically come true…
“I just want to go home.”
…because I realized that we were already home.
Author's Note: This was written in response to Write on Edge's Red Writing Hood prompt. The assignment was to begin a piece with the words "We had to leave immediately" and end it with the words "And then we realized that we were already home." I cheated, because that's how I roll, and tweaked the last sentence to fit my tale.