Home » Stories » Brown House (story, part one)

Brown House (story, part one)

living arch

(Background information – I have a collection of pictures from my grandparent’s old house and from the house I grew up in. I have been going through them and using them as journal prompts to work on my past, to dig up the roots and examine them. This is a very hard but important process and essential to my healing. I do not post those writings, as they are too personal, too visceral, too intimate. I was going to do that with this picture, but I started to wonder why I felt it was OK for me to make up fictional stories about pictures that I had no information on, but I felt that I had to write truth about pictures of places or people I knew. So this time I started to write a story instead. This picture is the front door of my paternal grandparent’s house, seen from the inside. The photo was taken by a realtor many years after it had been sold by my family after my grandparents had died/gone to a nursing home).

I’ve broken up the story into small parts, and as of yet it isn’t finished. I started writing it on vacation and did not realize it was going to be so long. I had to skip ahead pages to keep writing, as I wanted to write down other things from the trip.

And it begins –

Joan hated the house. Hated the wood floors, the bare walls, the sheer curtains. Who needed all this light pouring in when there was nothing to look at? How many different shades of brown could there be? Everything was neutral, just like the inhabitants.

She’d spent a week now with her in-laws and now knew the shape of her life. That dull heavy feeling in her stomach let her know that her worst fears would come true. Not soon, certainly, but surely. Within a handful of decades her husband would grow into the same sort of people he’d been raised by. There was no argument over nature versus nurture. He’d gotten a double dose. She was done for.

They’d not had a chance to meet each other’s family before they got married. Well, perhaps that isn’t fair to say. They didn’t make time. Perhaps they were so enraptured with each other that they didn’t want to allow anything to intrude on their self-made island. Perhaps they felt they were old enough to not have to seek parental approval. Perhaps they forgot that such meetings work both ways, just like with a job interview. With both, it isn’t just the potential new hire who gets looked over. S/he too has a chance to see if these people will be agreeable (or at least reasonable) to spend a lot of time with. 40 hours a week was one thing, while every major and minor holiday or celebration was another. When you married, you spoke vows to that person, but the unspoken vows were to their family. So much for “a man shall leave his family and be united to his wife”, his chosen, his all. You never really left your family of origin.

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