I remember a blue light in a white room. A high ceiling bisected by a dark wooden beam. A smell, perhaps, like the inside of a vacuum cleaner bag. My dad has a glass mannequin head that wears sunglasses, or sometimes a football helmet. The remote control floats across a sea of carpet, and I swim forward.
I go to bed when it's still light outside. I can hear voices through my window. In the morning I run to my parents' room and my dad is asleep. He looks too small when he sleeps, and I won't go inside. I crawl back into bed and close my eyes.
There is a fortress of diaper bags, and the plastic crinkles as they tumble around me. My mom wears a white nightgown that goes down to her ankles, and I have a little sister.
It’s moving day and all of the rooms are white. I sit on the front steps with my arm around my sister, watching my parents and uncles lift boxes into a big orange truck. Our windbreakers brush against each other as we shift in the cold. The clouds are dishwater gray. My name is carved on the side of the light-colored wooden table they’re lifting into the truck, and the J is backwards.
A girl in a long white dress dances across the sandbox in the moonlight, and I follow. The sand shifts and falls away beneath me. I watch myself tumble down. Laughter echoes as flames lick the cavern walls.
My boots leave small tracks in the deep snow. I walk backwards so no one can follow.
It's Christmas Eve and the inside-out woman steps out of the book. She’s red like blood, and I can see the backs of her eyes.
The TV gameshow host taps the outside of my bedroom window shade.
I wake up and the snow is melted, and the tree outside my window is just a stump. My short hair is soft. My mom and sister sing Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. I have a bunk bed with just the bed on top, and a blanket fort underneath. I build my dreams with colorful blocks and read books about pirates. I dress in a blonde wig and purple dress, but mom tells me to stop. I don’t understand why she’s mad. I dig a hole in the back yard to live in whenever mom gets mad. I use the small, sharp shovel mom uses to pick up dog poop on our front lawn.
I'm holding a plastic sword when they tell me we're moving. The sword feels too small in my hands. I look outside at the street, but it's already gone.
We stop to see the copper horses gallop toward the sky. Mom falls asleep while driving and the whole car shakes.
Grandma and Grandpa’s basement is dark, but I love the smell — like the pages of an old book. VHS tapes stack against one wall. I imagine a dark figure in the basement kitchen window, watching me from the overgrown swing set. I convince myself not to look. The fold-out bed squeaks as My mom and dad fall asleep in the living room. The lace at the edge of the bed spread feels rough and strange against my chin as I fall asleep, and I miss my room.
The new house smells how new houses smell — like fresh carpet and glue and wood and paint and possibility. Mom says I start school in 6 months, but I’ve already seen the playground. I slipped on the clown slide and have a purple bruise under my chin.
The woods on the other side of our backyard are dark and endless, but at night I can hear a train whistle and rumble from the other side. As I fall asleep I wonder who’s on the train and where they’re going.
Photo by Taomeister