Jolene Dawe

is creating stories, blog posts, and videos

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“We don’t have to go in.” Rosie laced her fingers through mine and squeezed. “We could come back in a day or two, take as long as you need. Hell, we can hire someone, or I could do this alone.” She blew a breath that lifted her bangs away from her forehead. “It can wait, is what I mean. As long as it needs to.”

I squeezed her fingers back with the hand she’d caught, and drummed my other fingers upon my left thigh. Sat behind the wheel of my car, I gazed at the unfamiliar house before us without looking too closely at it. She was right; we didn’t have to go in. The house was mine now, and the small parcel of that surrounded it. I could turn the car around and leave the house to fall into ruin. I could sell it and all its contents, sight unseen. I could keep the door firmly closed. All the regrets, and might-have-beens, the hurt, the abandonment, the guilt could remain hidden from sight and from mind. This chapter could be left unwritten, unread, unvoiced, and I could skip ahead, to something less upsetting.

I was tempted to do just that. But if I did, there would be no answers, and only new regrets. “No,” I said. “I want to do this.” I want to have done this, is what I meant, and Rosie knew me enough to know that. “If nothing else, I want to see how much work we have ahead of us. We won’t stay long.” I tried to put my love and gratitude into another squeeze of her hand, then we both got out of the car.

“Whatever you need,” she said.

That was Rosie. Always there to help, no matter what needed doing. Trouble was, I didn’t know what I needed. How did one deal with something like this? I hadn’t seen Micah in over fifteen years. I’d only heard from him half a dozen times in all that time, a random text here, a birthday card there. He was always on the move, disappearing for months on end, before reappearing without any explanation. I hardly knew my brother, for all that I’d adored him as a child.

Now, I never would.

He’d been twelve when I was born, and had started his disappearing act before he reached eighteen. The last time I’d seen him had been at our Aunt Evie’s funeral. That had been awkward, weird, and, well, sad.

The keys to the house felt heavier than they should when I pulled them from my pocket. One simple ring held the three keys, each as plain as the next. One bronze, two plated. I approached the house without letting myself think too much about it, filing information away. Single story. Ranch style. Porch across the whole front of the house, with four posts holding it up. Baskets of wildflowers hung from the overhang, and large containers edged either side of the porch. Whatever flowers had been planted there had long since died back. A riot of weeds and wildflowers grew in the containers now, scraggly and thin. Two chairs flanked the front door. A decorative horseshoe was hammered above the door. The lawn around the house was cropped close. The driveway held no car, and I couldn’t see into the garage from the front of the house.

The urge to pause at the door, to wait, to just hold on a second, was overbearing, so I slipped what I thought was the house key into the lock, and pushed ahead. Waiting wouldn’t bring Micah back, and any answers to be found would be contained within.

Rosie followed on my heels, silent as she took in the house. The air was stale from having been shut up, though the house was cool and didn’t smell musty. He’d been here recently, I mused, then forced my mind back into observation mode. I couldn’t think about him, living here, an hour and a half away from where the rest of us made our homes. Thinking of him across the country, or somewhere else entirely, made his long absence bearable.

I hissed out a shallow breath and made myself see my surroundings. Modest furniture in the living room: well worn sofa covered with a slip cover and half a dozen pillows; a second hand desk tucked under one of the front windows with a pile of mail, two notebooks, and a pen holder. A built in bookcase filled with as many tchockies as it was books, with a variety of houseplants tucked about. A grandfather clock tick-tocked against another wall.

The kitchen held the bare essentials. Table for two, fridge, an old gas range, a deep farmhouse styled sink that had seen better days. The bathroom held two towels, both dry but clean. Two bedrooms each held a bed, a chair, a nightstand, and a lamp. The only way I could tell his bedroom from the guest bedroom was by the clothes in the closet: three sets of black slacks; two sweater vests; one heavy sweater that might have been hand-made; five button down shirts, one each in white, pale yellow, light blue, sage green, and black; one pair of simple black dress shoes. A drawer in the nightstand by the bed revealed an assortment of underwear and socks. I closed that drawer with an apology for prying, then laughed quietly at my foolishness.
What did it matter, that I saw my brother’s underwear?

“Well, whatever else he was, your brother was tidy.” Rosie closed the fridge as I returned from the bathroom. “No dirty dishes in the sink, no food left to spoil in the fridge. The pantry has a small amount of dry goods and canned goods put up, but all that’s in the fridge is some beer, a few hunks of cheese, and condiments. Did it happen here?”

It.

Had he died here, she meant.

“They didn’t say.” I didn’t think so,though. If it had, someone would have had to have cleaned up, and there was no mention of that. Hell, no one else had shown up to the funeral other than family. Wherever his friends were, it hadn’t been here.

“Is there a cat or dog?” I eyed the bowls set neatly inside the back door. “I didn’t see a litter box, so maybe a dog?”

We didn’t find a dog, or a cat.

“It’s not going to take much to pack everything up,” I observed while Rosie pulled the food from the fridge. “I can come back on my own and take care of things.”

She didn’t argue, though I could tell by the light in her eyes that she wanted to. “You know I don’t mind helping,” was the closest she would let herself come to arguing with me.

“I do,” I agreed. “But, this is going to take me a day at the most.” And, now that I knew what to expect, I’d rather be alone. I didn’t need to say the words. Rosie knew me as well as I knew her, so she nodded her acceptance.

We bagged up the food that would eventually spoil in the fridge if we left it too long, made sure the house was locked up tight, and left.

Pulling away from a house I’d never seen before, barely lived in by a brother I rarely heard from and hardly knew, was one of the harder things I’d done so far in my life. There was an almost physical wrenching in my gut, as if a door had been slammed so hard and so close to me that I could feel the concussion. I told myself that I would be back, that the relationship with Micah wasn’t truly over, not yet, but the ache within either didn’t care or didn’t hear.

I glanced at the house in the mirror before it slipped from view. Something slipped through one of the planters, rustling weeds aside. I caught the glimpse of what could have been a foot or a tail, and wondered again about a pet. Mentally, I bumped my plans to return from ‘sometime next week’ to ‘tomorrow’, and then, because my heart was too heavy and we still had a long drive ahead of us, I put the entire thing out of my mind.

The weight in my heart did not lessen.

~*~*~*~

The above is what a typical story installment looks like. That's the first part of my current project, Familiar. Interested in reading more? Consider becoming a Patron. One dollar a month gets you access to each installment as they go live, as well as early access to blog posts and videos, where I mostly talk about books, knitting, critters, spiritual blathering, and mental health. Basically, it's my talk therapy. And, if I know I won't get to posting that coming month, I suspend the project so that you're not charged a cent!

(the above is copyright 2019 to Jolene Dawe. Obviously.)


Tiers
All the Everything
$1 or more per month

New chapters (or a stand alone story) each month. You get to see all my new fiction first!  You'll also get access to blog posts and videos early.

Goals
$92 of $150 per month
Not gonna lie: we're back to paying off medical debt. Finding out the lump in your breast isn't cancer? $700 please! Oh, you have insurance? Great! $675 please! *sigh* If you think your single dollar doesn't help, think again! 

Someday, it'll be a glamorous goal, like: so I can help others more! Or, so I can hire a cover artist! Or something. For now? If you like my writing, or what I've shared via my blog, consider throwing a dollar or two my way. 
1 of 1
“We don’t have to go in.” Rosie laced her fingers through mine and squeezed. “We could come back in a day or two, take as long as you need. Hell, we can hire someone, or I could do this alone.” She blew a breath that lifted her bangs away from her forehead. “It can wait, is what I mean. As long as it needs to.”

I squeezed her fingers back with the hand she’d caught, and drummed my other fingers upon my left thigh. Sat behind the wheel of my car, I gazed at the unfamiliar house before us without looking too closely at it. She was right; we didn’t have to go in. The house was mine now, and the small parcel of that surrounded it. I could turn the car around and leave the house to fall into ruin. I could sell it and all its contents, sight unseen. I could keep the door firmly closed. All the regrets, and might-have-beens, the hurt, the abandonment, the guilt could remain hidden from sight and from mind. This chapter could be left unwritten, unread, unvoiced, and I could skip ahead, to something less upsetting.

I was tempted to do just that. But if I did, there would be no answers, and only new regrets. “No,” I said. “I want to do this.” I want to have done this, is what I meant, and Rosie knew me enough to know that. “If nothing else, I want to see how much work we have ahead of us. We won’t stay long.” I tried to put my love and gratitude into another squeeze of her hand, then we both got out of the car.

“Whatever you need,” she said.

That was Rosie. Always there to help, no matter what needed doing. Trouble was, I didn’t know what I needed. How did one deal with something like this? I hadn’t seen Micah in over fifteen years. I’d only heard from him half a dozen times in all that time, a random text here, a birthday card there. He was always on the move, disappearing for months on end, before reappearing without any explanation. I hardly knew my brother, for all that I’d adored him as a child.

Now, I never would.

He’d been twelve when I was born, and had started his disappearing act before he reached eighteen. The last time I’d seen him had been at our Aunt Evie’s funeral. That had been awkward, weird, and, well, sad.

The keys to the house felt heavier than they should when I pulled them from my pocket. One simple ring held the three keys, each as plain as the next. One bronze, two plated. I approached the house without letting myself think too much about it, filing information away. Single story. Ranch style. Porch across the whole front of the house, with four posts holding it up. Baskets of wildflowers hung from the overhang, and large containers edged either side of the porch. Whatever flowers had been planted there had long since died back. A riot of weeds and wildflowers grew in the containers now, scraggly and thin. Two chairs flanked the front door. A decorative horseshoe was hammered above the door. The lawn around the house was cropped close. The driveway held no car, and I couldn’t see into the garage from the front of the house.

The urge to pause at the door, to wait, to just hold on a second, was overbearing, so I slipped what I thought was the house key into the lock, and pushed ahead. Waiting wouldn’t bring Micah back, and any answers to be found would be contained within.

Rosie followed on my heels, silent as she took in the house. The air was stale from having been shut up, though the house was cool and didn’t smell musty. He’d been here recently, I mused, then forced my mind back into observation mode. I couldn’t think about him, living here, an hour and a half away from where the rest of us made our homes. Thinking of him across the country, or somewhere else entirely, made his long absence bearable.

I hissed out a shallow breath and made myself see my surroundings. Modest furniture in the living room: well worn sofa covered with a slip cover and half a dozen pillows; a second hand desk tucked under one of the front windows with a pile of mail, two notebooks, and a pen holder. A built in bookcase filled with as many tchockies as it was books, with a variety of houseplants tucked about. A grandfather clock tick-tocked against another wall.

The kitchen held the bare essentials. Table for two, fridge, an old gas range, a deep farmhouse styled sink that had seen better days. The bathroom held two towels, both dry but clean. Two bedrooms each held a bed, a chair, a nightstand, and a lamp. The only way I could tell his bedroom from the guest bedroom was by the clothes in the closet: three sets of black slacks; two sweater vests; one heavy sweater that might have been hand-made; five button down shirts, one each in white, pale yellow, light blue, sage green, and black; one pair of simple black dress shoes. A drawer in the nightstand by the bed revealed an assortment of underwear and socks. I closed that drawer with an apology for prying, then laughed quietly at my foolishness.
What did it matter, that I saw my brother’s underwear?

“Well, whatever else he was, your brother was tidy.” Rosie closed the fridge as I returned from the bathroom. “No dirty dishes in the sink, no food left to spoil in the fridge. The pantry has a small amount of dry goods and canned goods put up, but all that’s in the fridge is some beer, a few hunks of cheese, and condiments. Did it happen here?”

It.

Had he died here, she meant.

“They didn’t say.” I didn’t think so,though. If it had, someone would have had to have cleaned up, and there was no mention of that. Hell, no one else had shown up to the funeral other than family. Wherever his friends were, it hadn’t been here.

“Is there a cat or dog?” I eyed the bowls set neatly inside the back door. “I didn’t see a litter box, so maybe a dog?”

We didn’t find a dog, or a cat.

“It’s not going to take much to pack everything up,” I observed while Rosie pulled the food from the fridge. “I can come back on my own and take care of things.”

She didn’t argue, though I could tell by the light in her eyes that she wanted to. “You know I don’t mind helping,” was the closest she would let herself come to arguing with me.

“I do,” I agreed. “But, this is going to take me a day at the most.” And, now that I knew what to expect, I’d rather be alone. I didn’t need to say the words. Rosie knew me as well as I knew her, so she nodded her acceptance.

We bagged up the food that would eventually spoil in the fridge if we left it too long, made sure the house was locked up tight, and left.

Pulling away from a house I’d never seen before, barely lived in by a brother I rarely heard from and hardly knew, was one of the harder things I’d done so far in my life. There was an almost physical wrenching in my gut, as if a door had been slammed so hard and so close to me that I could feel the concussion. I told myself that I would be back, that the relationship with Micah wasn’t truly over, not yet, but the ache within either didn’t care or didn’t hear.

I glanced at the house in the mirror before it slipped from view. Something slipped through one of the planters, rustling weeds aside. I caught the glimpse of what could have been a foot or a tail, and wondered again about a pet. Mentally, I bumped my plans to return from ‘sometime next week’ to ‘tomorrow’, and then, because my heart was too heavy and we still had a long drive ahead of us, I put the entire thing out of my mind.

The weight in my heart did not lessen.

~*~*~*~

The above is what a typical story installment looks like. That's the first part of my current project, Familiar. Interested in reading more? Consider becoming a Patron. One dollar a month gets you access to each installment as they go live, as well as early access to blog posts and videos, where I mostly talk about books, knitting, critters, spiritual blathering, and mental health. Basically, it's my talk therapy. And, if I know I won't get to posting that coming month, I suspend the project so that you're not charged a cent!

(the above is copyright 2019 to Jolene Dawe. Obviously.)


Recent posts by Jolene Dawe

Tiers
All the Everything
$1 or more per month

New chapters (or a stand alone story) each month. You get to see all my new fiction first!  You'll also get access to blog posts and videos early.