H is for… Home

By Vita Forest


She stops the car and turns off the engine.  What had that man on the radio just said?

“A home is somewhere you feel safe, a sanctuary.”

She remembers the sinking feeling as she turns down the road, how her fingers clench the steering wheel, as she gets closer and closer to the house where she lives.

“Shelter is a basic human need, unless your basic needs are met, it’s very hard to function.”

It’s an imposing building in just the right area.  An impressive building, a building to get lost in.  A building that swallows you up.

That does not sound like a home, she thinks.

It was great for parties.  It was wonderful for a crowd, when he would be distracted, on his best behaviour, trying to impress.

“Unless your basic needs are being met, that fight or flight instinct is on alert.  It may be hidden beneath the surface, but it means that you are living in a state of constant stress.”

But when they were there alone, it was a cold, lonely place.  Full of unspoken resentment and tense undercurrents.  Tiptoeing around issues, wondering what kind of mood he would be in that day, wondering how she would manage it.  Waiting until he was asleep before creeping in to slide beneath the covers.  Or sleeping in the spare room if the air still crackled with anger.  He always fell asleep immediately.  How was that possible?  She lay there drowning, fretting, wondering what she could possibly do.  And then got up the next day and went on with the charade.

She drives on and parks on the street at the address her friend had given her.  She unbuckles her seatbelt and reaches for the Peace Lily strapped into the passenger seat, uncrinkles the cellophane wrapping and straightens the bow.  She climbs out of the car.  Flat 7…  She walks through the gate and along the path, reading the numbers as she goes.  There it is, a plain wooden door with a brass number displayed jauntily on the door frame.  She knocks and hears footsteps coming toward the door.

“Hello!  Come in!”

The flat is small and modest, but the furniture sits well in it.  The light pours through the windows and a vase of nasturtiums sits happily on a table.

Her friend looks happy again.  Her friend looks content.  Her friend looks like she has done the right thing.  This is a home.  This is what a home looks like.  This is what a home feels like.  This is what she needs.

“And how are you?” her friend asks.

She looks down at her hands, at her perfectly manicured hands and thinks – I could tell her, I could just come out and tell her.  I could start to make it real.

“I need to tell you something,” she says.