These things are part of it

Originally published as part of Scottish Book Trust’s Stories of Home project. Read it on their website here.

Home is waking up knowing where I am, with a sore throat because I left the window open over night. I pull my heavy limbs together and into the kitchen to scavenge for food in the drawers that are neatly organised and never empty. I wave at my Gran through the window. My sister’s handiwork, pink raspberry syrup, poured into a glass and mixed with water. Dad‘s paper is on the table and I turn it over to read the opinion pieces, so I know what to think. After breakfast I play the piano because I know Mum will like it.

There are other things I remember, about other homes.

The creak in the hallway as the heavy ginger cat approaches, pushes the door open, and lies down on my feet. Frost on the single windowpane. We purr. Finally I slide out from underneath him and go into the kitchen, a warm embrace, the fireplace is full. The floorboards turn to carpet. When you stand right in the middle of the room and the stereo is on it‘s like the music is playing in the middle of your head.

The fridge door is broken so I have to lever it open with my foot. I boil an egg, slice a kiwi, make espresso in the cafetière for one. When I sneeze at my desk all the shelves fall down. I shower and get ready to cycle because I know my friend will be waiting, so we can chat and shout on the way to the reading room, the greenhouse. Before I leave the flat I turn all the lights on and shut the curtains, just in case.

There are fifteen scones wrapped in ten layers of cling film on the table. A sign says “HELP yourself”. I know another person was up because I smell the fried mushrooms and the strong Turkish coffee. I excavate a fruit scone, get the butter from the fridge, and lie down on the red sofa to flip through the IKEA catalogue. Sometimes we make pancakes and spread them with sweet things and fold them and cut them and eat them with our hands, standing up. The one with the least greasy fingers gets to change the music.

I climb down a ladder to get out of bed, and walk onto the balcony. It is early and the bees are still there, living in a dangling lamp above the table. Through the kitchen window I can see the others are awake, pushing and teasing, laughing. We‘ve written messages on the glass with markers. Soon, construction next door will begin again and we will all flee to the library.

We built my first adult bed with a few beers, four or five of us, which may be why it broke. I still continued sleeping in it, lower to the ground now, next to the red wall that was such a pain to paint white when I moved out. Jars and containers of food from home, every other weekend, bags and bags. A steady diet of tomato soup and pasta with sour cream.

I wake up to the birds now. I live in the roof. I never tire of the view. I live on a boat.


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