Sometime over the last forty years, the raw brickwork had been replaced with do-it-yourself vinyl siding. In the decayed sunlight, it looked lime, but that had to be a trick, an aberrant effect from light reflected from the patch of lawn. The door was different, of course, not that faux-elegant aluminum with the scroll-work underneath the screen. It was solid wood, less likely to slam and rattle with the wind.
The old dandelion garden beneath the kitchen window was gone, too, replaced with a row of ceramic pots filled with tea roses and ornamental feathered grass. It was the first time he ever associated this place with anything beautiful. It had a remarkable effect on him, seeing those roses. Maybe the house wasn’t as spoilt as he remembered. Or maybe enough of him had weathered enough storms, and it was simpler to let it go.
Coming back was always going to be rough. He still saw the pinched walkway and gravel driveway in his dreams, and he still heard the phantom voices discipline his every decision. This place, this place….
Of course he believed in ghosts. A childhood resurrected was filled with them.
He kept walking, but slowly. This place was his past, and he had no business here. Flat bourbon-colored shadows doused the sidewalk, and he could smell greasy meat and the curl of onions and cabbage from a stranger’s kitchen. Just another Saturday night, far from home, but back home.
Tomorrow, maybe he would knock, and introduce his past to the strangers behind the door.