His parents always kept the things in his room the same as they were when he left for college six years prior, his Barry Sanders poster and dusty Little League trophies exactly where he had left them. Nothing much ever changed in the house, except maybe a new brand of hand soap in the bathroom or the couch being positioned six inches closer to the TV because of their slowly deteriorating eyesight. Eerie how time stops when you leave home and starts ticking again when you return.
He hadn’t noticed anything much different on this trip, as usual, until he went to the den at the end of the hall. The way the upstairs was set up, the stairs ended on a small landing. On the right side of the landing was the upstairs bathroom. On the left side of the landing, a hallway ran parallel to the stairs. Take a right, and you go to the master bedroom at the end of the hall. Take a left, and the hallway dead ends into the den. On the wall opposite the stairs were two bedrooms, one for each of the children.
Marie hadn’t come home this time, her life in Tampa just too glamorous for her to make time for a trip to Grayling, so it was just Sam and his parents in the upper level during this stay. He walked into his room, threw his suitcase and laptop bag onto his bed — still covered with a Star Wars comforter from his childhood — and greeted his room once again.
“Hope Don and Melissa haven’t driven you mad,” Sam sarcastically said to Barry, in the middle of a juke on the poster.
Sam took a quick inventory of his room and the upstairs. Nothing different in his room, as usual, nothing much different in the bathroom except maybe a different hand towel. Then he wandered down to the den, where he had spent hours as a teenager discovering the Internet and wandering down its vast and ever-changing corridors.
It was not as he’d left it. In fact, it had changed dramatically from the last time he was home about six months earlier.
The desk, usually set against the tall windows, had been shifted over against the adjoining wall, and had been cleared of everything, including the family’s computer. The bookshelves, once filled haphazardly with John Grisham and Anne Rice, were neatly organized.
The whole room seemed to exude cleanliness, and it accentuated the incredible amount of natural light that the bay windows threw into the room. Sam had arrived around sunset — the setting sun drenched the room in a bloody red light. The desk, normally a light brown, gleamed in glorious, deep mahogany red. There was something frightfully beautiful about the way the sun was lighting the room, something out of a Dario Argento murder scene. Sam looked down after what seemed like just a moment to find out that five minutes had past. He shook his head, assumed he was just tired from the long day, and wandered downstairs.
-From “The Light in the Window” by A.K. McCarthy
Find out what is going on in Sam’s house in “Home Sweet Home”
Get yours here: Home Sweet Home – A Millhaven Anthology