Tomas sat on the bed and looked around the room, his room. It was strange looking at the bleak walls, the bleak carpet on the floor, and thinking of all of it as his room. His room was on the right, the same room he had slept his entire life, it was all green and blue and he shared it with his big brother up until he moved away, than it was just Tomas’ until he got married. He and his wife planned on redecorating the old nursery across the hall and using it as a bedroom but then his father died and everything changed.
Now some months later the two of them had finally moved to the big bedroom, now devoid of anything Harald’s. It was no longer his father’s bedroom it was Tomas’. He had to repeat it to himself over and over again, trying to make it real, trying to accept it. The same thing went to the house. His house.
Only his house was nothing like the house he grew up, he didn’t remember life before they moved here, he was a toddler, still in diapers when they carried him over the threshold and all his life since that moment he had lived here. And he knew the house he lived in, it was a house filled with life, laughter, cries, yelling, smell of food, smell of flowers. This house was nothing like that it was an empty shell,a ghost of that previous house, empty, reeking of memories of days long gone, memories of his siblings, memories of his parents…
There was only one more box in the room. It was a shoe box, a big shoe box, one that probably once contained his father’s boots. This box was not packed by Tomas nor his new wife, he found it in his father’s closet, in the back of the shoe drawer. He supposed his father kept it there to hide it. Most of his clothes was washed and ironed, and than placed in the appropriate drawers by Hannah so his shoe drawer was the only drawer none of them ever opened.
He lifted the box from the floor and gently placed it on the bed. He took a deep breath and then took the lid off. The box was stacked to the top with old family photos. Once they were like any happy family, snapping away, preserving memories as photographs that they kept in old family albums they would look at once and while, laughing at each other, telling stories about those photos, reliving those happy days. And then when things had started falling apart his father started removing those photos one by one, like trying to erase the past, to escape the once happy memories until eventually whole albums disappeared and Tomas assumed his father had them destroyed so he wouldn’t have to ever face what they once had and what was forever lost.
Tomas slowly took the photos out, one by one, and tried to spread them on the bed in some sort of chronological order, he went to the photos of his parents getting married, Alyssa as a baby, Hannah as a baby, Andrew as a baby, himself… Looking at his mother’s soft smile, his father’s stern face, always serious Alyssa, goofy Andrew and Hannah he saw his whole childhood flashing in front of him in waves of memories…
It was a happy childhood, Tomas being the youngest of four children with loving siblings that were always protective of him. He watched the picture of the six of them in front of this very same house, probably the day they moved in. His father in a green short sleeved shirt, his mother next to him, smiling, with him, little Tomas in her arms, Alyssa, her face tied in a ponytail, Andrew and Hannah, all clean in clean clothes, obviously just out of the car, no time to get into trouble…
He flashed forward, him, first day of school, his father had took this picture, he remembered, he was wearing a light blue shirt, same haircut as Andrew wore, he insisted on it, his little backpack on his back, and his mother’s arm protectively around him. Hannah and Andrew tried to jump in the photo but he just saw two smudges, roughly their shapes. He could picture Alyssa standing next to their dad scowling. He could not help smiling.
His parents wanIted all of them to be very serious about school so from that day on, almost every school day was the same, just after school the four of them would sit together and work on their homework, helping each other, well mostly it was Alyssa, the most serious and responsible of them who would finish first and monitor the rest of them, helping when needed. Even though she tried to be strict and serious it would often turn into one, or all of them laughing at one thing or the other, and all of them trading stories of their days, teasing each other. Afterwards their dad would come home, he worked various jobs before being a firefighter, and they would all sit down together and eat a delicious meal his mother made. She didn’t work, and loved cooking so they always ate well, and also it was an opportunity to spend more time together.
On weekends their father would teach Tomas and Andrew about working with tools and gardening. He had a nice garden, with apples, tomatoes, lettuces, grapes and onions and Tomas liked spending his time there, when his father was there weeding and digging, and when he wasn’t there playing with the sprinklers.
There was a picture of him and dad in the garden, this one was taken from the back porch, probably by mum, or maybe Andrew. Tomas didn’t even know such a photo existed, you couldn’t recognize them, they were both squatting in the garden, their backs turned but it made him surprisingly teary eyed so he moved on.
The next photo was of Andrew and his best friend Cocoa Brown. She was always a wild child, much like Andrew himself but you could never tell from this picture. She was always a pretty little girl, with her long dark hair and slightly slanted but exotic green eyes. She was wearing a flower pattern dress and smiling at the camera. Andrew was smiling too and Tomas couldn’t help but wonder what kind of mischief were they planning that day.
Cocoa was spending as much time at their house as them, she would sometimes come with Andrew right after school, other times she would come after they had finished their homework and when she didn’t come Andrew would go over to her house which was just across the street. The two of them were best friends, and were inseparable back then. Tomas who wanted nothing more than to be just like his big brother would tag along with them as much as he could, or more precisely, as much as they allowed him.
Time went on, all of them grew and things started to change, well the correct term would be, things started to fall apart but Tomas didn’t know it then, none of them did…