His mom always told him, “this is your home- it will always be here for you to come back to.” But it wasn’t a home of fond memories more than it was just a place he existed and survived in until he made his great escape to college in southern California. Amory studied Biology at the University of Los Angeles and graduated a year early. He would often walk Venice beach not minding the crowds or tourists. Depending on the tide, he would often sit at the water’s edge, run his hand through the millions of grains of sand, and stare at his shoes realizing how he was the only one in the world looking at his shoes against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean on a spinning rock in space.
He thought the world, and entire universe, was so overwhelmingly interesting. How the two weeks in deep space could equate to hundreds of years on Earth because of the different forces of gravity that affect time, or the reason that planets and moons are circular is because of the strong gravitational pull cramming particles tight at the core, or that diatoms in oceans, thinner than a follicle of human hair, provide oxygen for all of humankind.
He hadn’t been home in three years but here is, at the corner of Quetriste and Epic, where he grew up. The house was in the back corner of a cul-de-sac that had a lamppost in the front yard. The lamppost was a “security light” according to his mom, but that damn thing always shined right into his bedroom at night. They lived in an upscale location, but alas, it was only “safe and secure” when that light was on.
He tried to get in the house from the garage, but the code wasn’t working so he tried knocking on the front door. When no one answered, he decided to try the back door- everyone had always forgot to lock that door. He chuckled at the irony when the doorknob turned and the door swung wide. "Tragedies always 'sneak through the back door’, don’t they?”, he mocked as he proclaimed to an empty home it’s a good thing he’s not a burglar, “Perhaps too much trust in that damn lamppost, huh?”
Everything looked pretty much the same in the house. He walked through the living room which was covered in so much dust, God himself could have created another family out of it. That thought ticked him off so he picked up his pace as he headed upstairs to his room. “Nice”, he said starring at some crappy infomercial workout equipment that had replaced his where his bed once was. Taking no time at all, he turned around and went back downstairs. And, concluding that no one was home, he decided to sit on the back patio in the sun drinking a beer until someone came home.
Three beers later, the Earth had turned its back on the Sun and, still, no on was home. He sat in the living room staring at the ceiling before he decided there was nothing else to do, so he went to the guest room to go to sleep. He thought he could feel the emptiness of the big house on his shoulders- and all that nothingness felt heavy- but he had also drank three beers and had an embarrassingly low tolerance. So, he fell into bed and thought about nothing.
Only about two hours into sleeping, he woke up to the alarming sound of a woman screaming. Thinking it was outside, he flung he covers back and looked out the bedroom window, but saw no one. The screaming had dulled to a heated conversation when he realized the sound was traveling through an air vent above him. “Mom?”, he yelled rushing into the living room to get the master bedroom. The house was still dark, now eerily quiet, and no one was in the bedroom. He didn’t hear the woman anymore, so he convinced himself that it was outside and went back to bed- though he was startled.
The next morning, when he woke up, he checked the garage to see if anyone had come home- nope. Sipping a cup of coffee, he spent the majority of his morning sitting in a common area that allows you to view the entire kitchen and into the living room that leads to the front door. The house felt like a cave with its tall ceilings and open spaces competing against the body heat of one single person objectively staring down its opening.
The window behind allowed sunlight to pour into the big house that he was in a staring contest with. He decided to go for a run hoping that someone, anyone, would be home when he got back. He spent the whole day outside in the sun- it felt so free and happy, like California. He came back at sunset and eagerly ran throughout the house to see anybody, but there was no one.
Feeling defeated, but not surprised, he began to make dinner for himself, by himself, when he heard a book fall in the library. “Dad!” he thought. He ran to the library room and found one single book on the floor, but the shelves were empty and no one was in there. He picked the book up off the floor, For Whom the Bell Tolls. Across the house, he heard his brother’s guitar amp screeching, as if he were trying to start up an unannounced practice session, which was normal. He ran to his room excited to see him, but only got to the kitchen when he heard a man and woman fighting in the living room. He instantly felt sick and froze with his back to the living room as both the amp and fighting became louder and louder.
He looked out the kitchen window and watched the tip of the sun descend into the horizon; it gave him a strange, isolated, sad feeling, but it was beautiful to watch. He heard his dinner burning on the stove then closed his eyes, clenched his jaw, and turned around to face whoever was fighting in the living room. Right when he turned, the front door slammed and he heard the woman in the master bedroom crying hysterically. Terrified and overwhelmed, he ran to the guest room and looked out the window to see who had left out the front door. Instead, he saw an unfamiliar car driving toward the house. There are two people in the car, but he didn’t recognize the driver. To his surprise, the garage door was now opening, “What the hell?” Maybe that’s why the code doesn’t work- someone changed it!
Just then, the amp began to screech at piercing levels and the woman’s crying became uncontrollably manic. The empty shelves in the library began to rattle, fall, and break as they collapsed to the ground from the vibration of noise. He grabbed his bag and ran out the front door, which slammed behind him.”My home has been taken!”
It was dark outside- the lamppost had burned out- but he could see the stars and they were beautiful.