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Shut Up & Write Scene-Building Prompt Day 1: House By the Side of the Road - Three Takes
I hate mornings. No, let me rephrase. I hate school and walking to school, which happens to start in the morning.
There’s that stupid house with it stupid green grass and sprinkler and dumb flowerbed. Yep. There’s old Ma and Pa Kettle just yapping away. God that house is an embarrassment with its old-people-paint and smell.
“Fine, Mrs. Lieberwitz. How are you and the Mister?” Yes. That’s it. Give 'em your best smile.
God, I hate mornings and walking and people with their morning energies. Just look at the two of them! Sitting together on that stupid porch swing, holding coffee or tea or whatever old people drink, just jabbering away. Hmm, looks like Mrs. Lieberwitz is doing all the jabbering. The Mister looks a little pale and grumpy. Weird. Must be Monday. Their dog…Skippy or Dippy…even looks irritated.
“Yes, Mrs. Lieberwitz. It is a beautiful morning!”
Sad when a beloved member of the community dies. Mr. Lieberwitz will be missed. Salt of the earth. A pillar of the community, and all that. I’m certain I heard he built their colonial house—well more of a craftsman—now that I am really looking. A blast from the past. Hmm. 1930’s, perhaps? Catchy phrase. I could use it in the listing. Fingers crossed.
I wonder if Mrs. Lieberwitz plans to stay in the house? I think anyone would be lucky to land this listing if she decides to sell. I’m glad I thought to bring along some coffee and muffins. Get the conversation going. It is always a tough one. What to do about the house.
Let’s see…Well-kept…no, Pristine craftsman style home with stout square columns and a cozy front porch, complete with a slatted wood swing. The swing could use a coat of paint; maybe white? The shutters too. That hunter green is so 1990. Greige would make the original glass-pane windows pop. The roof looks new. The siding too. Pretty catchy rhyme. I should write it down for the listing. That last hail storm did a number on all the homes with vinyl or aluminum. That has to be Hardie-board and they chose soft white paint...or maybe eggshell. That will up the price at least 15K. Well played Mr. Lieberwitz. Well played.
Oh! And there goes the sprinkler system. Like clockwork. Look at that grass! St. Augustine? Those live oaks must’ve been here before the house was even built. They have to be…hmm…60 feet maybe? Someone has a green thumb. Daylilies for days. Pretty catchy! Better write it down.
This is what coming home feels like. Anticipation as I spy the “City Limits” sign. Butterflies in my stomach as I turn on my street. Then I roll my windows down, and...aah…spring and the scent of newly mown grass.
There’s my house, with the sprinkler on. We always did have the greenest yard. Oh! The green shutters aren’t green anymore. Grayish? Beige? I guess that would be called greige? Greige shutters on eggshell siding. Monochromatic color schemes are all the rage, but it somehow doesn’t seem as cozy now.
My oak tree! Yep. Still there. The “D.B. + A.L.” carved on the trunk when we were in middle school, then exed-out once we got divorced. Childish, I know, but Dave was a real ass. He may be gone but at least my tree is still here.
The flowers still look nice. Orange daylilies were always Daddy’s favorite. Oh! And my tiny hand-print forever encapsulated in the sidewalk. I still remember the man smoothing the concrete out to a glass-like perfection, then going over it again with a straw broom—to rough it up. I asked him why he messed it up when it was smooth and perfect and he told me it was so the surface wouldn’t be slick when it rained. Smooth things aren’t always perfect.
Then Mama and Daddy let me put my hand in the square closest to the mailbox. The concrete felt cool and gritty. Not squishy, like I thought. “Now write your name just like Mama showed you,” Daddy said. And, using my right index finger, I did. It is still there under my hand-print, ANNA. All caps. I loved to write the capital letters. My hand is much bigger now. Time has certainly moved on.
It looks like someone re-stained the porch and the swing is white. It is different but looks clean, somehow less cluttered. I wonder if the new family would mind too much if I cut two daylilies before I head to the cemetery. One to lay on each headstone. What do you think Skipper? Shall I knock on the front door (still Mama’s yellow) and ask?
By Lisa H. Owens
Inspired by a Shut Up & Write Scene Setting Challenge.