She was home: the clack clacking fan in the living room, the too hot bedroom that she shared with her husband, the detritus of kid’s toys piled on every free surface. She knew this place. She knew the wideness of the living room, knew the coldest spot in the whole house was the chair by the back door, knew which steps on the staircase groaned no matter how gently you placed your foot. She knew the amount of light the windows in the back let in and how to slant the blinds at the just-right angle to let in the light but keep out the heat. She knew the number of steps from the sink to the fridge and the way the attic hummed with even the smallest hint of a blowing wind. She could see the dents in the walls where cars or blocks had bounced off. She could point to the ever so faint patch in the ceiling of their master bedroom where her husband had misstepped in the attic and put his foot through the drywall the first week they had moved in.
This was a place that she loved. A place where echoes of made-up childhood words bounced through each room. This was a place she had created and longed for. But now, the air felt heavy, felt swollen, felt suffocating. To be in this house was to know and remember. It was to walk in the door and feel like something was missing. It was to feel a faint fluttering in her stomach that was no longer there. It was to hear cold and clinical words that made her shudder, smell the sanitary and astringent smells of a doctor’s office. It was to rehearse her actions again and again until she could convince herself that there was something that she should have done differently. Which is to say, that being in this house was to know that everything that had happened was her fault. It was to know the sound of a tiny heartbeat that had stopped.
She can remember the bright texture of the house before. She can see all their buoyant and bright smiles. How easy it was for all of them to laugh! How easy it was to speak to her husband without feeling tongue-tied and confused. How nice it was to never have the now pervasive quiet. She hated to quiet! How loud and vulgar it made her feel. Everything used to be boisterous and rushing. Everyone moving. Even the boys seem subdued like a film of blurry cotton has been laid over their usual wildness. She misses the energy. Now, she finds herself searching for it. While the boys are at school, she seeks out crowded restaurants or bars, places where she can sit and let the noise run across her skin like a current until it soaks into her body and everything inside is shushed. In places like that, her thoughts are gone, floating up and up, farther and farther away until POP! Gone.
She wants to move. Somewhere big and busy with people crammed into too tiny of spaces and everyone always busy, busy. She told her husband that she wanted to live in Seattle! Or New York! Or London! She told him she wanted to live somewhere where she could step outside and be carried up and away by the flow of all those people. He had shaken his head, told her that she was grieving, and this was part of the process; she did not know what she wanted. He had told her that she would hate the noise and the constant motion of a city, not to mention the weather of any of the places she had named. He had married a woman who loved to be at home. Who loved to move slowly. Who loved to be in control. She had tried to explain that she had changed, but she could not make him understand. She wanted to run towards something, to get sucked up by something, to not be obliterated by the pulse of something. Her deepest desire was to run towards and jump in, but instead, she was stuck, at home.