Friday, January 28, 2011

Challenge 111: Earthquake House

This house is unfamiliar... eerie at night. Up here in the attic room, I huddle against the wall, sitting on a bed that feels like it was built in the eighteen hundreds. I listen to the wind blowing outside my window and wonder when the next shock will hit. Will I go running to him? Will the roof fall in on my head? I think of my sisters, asleep on the floor below. Will the floor cave in and crush them? It doesn't seem to matter that this house has survived the last three major quakes with barely even surface damage... I am still scared.

I slip out the window onto the balcony. Not the safest place, but I need air. I am suffocating in there. From here you can see the lights of LA, beautiful and yet also a stark reminder of what I left behind today. My own house is down there somewhere, red-stickered and scheduled for demolition. Power is still out in some suburbs - I can see the black patches.

My fingers pick at the peeling paint on the banister. The Howards obviously have not spent much time thinking about maintenance lately... That's cruel, I know. Their father works all the time and the boys have no reason to be thinking about the state of the paint job on the upper balconies. It's not like they ever come out here anyway.

The is a screech of wheels on the gravel and I notice that Dylan is home. I would recognize that bike anywhere. I duck back into my attic room before he notices me watching.

Back to the squeaky bed then. This isn't so bad. I could paint the walls... No. I am not going to get comfortable here. It's not my house.

There is a deep rumble. I tense, knowing it is coming... where do I go? Under the bed? In the doorway? I shrink back into the corner of my bed and watch the window sway in my vision. I will not cry, but I can't seem to stop shaking. Eventually, the house calms down, only shivering a little. I clamber off the bed and feel something akin to sea-sickness. Dammit, why can't you just stand still, you stupid house?

I make myself climb down the ladder. I am not staying up there tonight, I don't care if I have to sleep in Angelette's corvette. I don't want to be in the house any more.

It's on the second story that I see him.

Motorcycle helmet tucked under his arm, his eyes lock with mine and I flush. I am not really dressed to be seen in public.

"Hey," he says in a soft, deep voice. "You okay?"

I nod furiously. Admitting that I'm scared to Dylan is unthinkable...

The tears on my cheeks give me away.

"You want to go out?"

I nod, betraying my own resolve before it has a chance to cement.

"Come on." He doesn't even smirk or try to make fun of me. "You'll want to grab a jacket."

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