Jessie listened for several minutes until the neighborhood returned to normal. The moving truck was halfway to the highway on the first leg of the cross-country trip to Boston. That’s where Patrick’s new teaching job was. Patrick was driving the bus with the kids firmly locked into their car seats. She would follow as soon as the realtor stopped by to pick up the keys. The fist full of keys was the last tie to the ‘old mansion’ as they called it. She and Patrick had called it many other things over the years depending on the weather, health of the kids and the life span of major appliances. The had just put in their third water heater this past January. Two adults and three kids; Kim the oldest followed 2 years later by twins Bobby and Jimmy. Jessie swore that Kim used more water than the other four combined and the new water heater was almost for Kim alone. It was really for Jessie who never was able to take a bath or relaxing shower until everyone was out the door for the day. It was only then the luxury of a hot bath was her reward for the frenetic mornings.
Jessie took one final stroll through the old house finding the ghosts of her life echo off the barren walls. The twins room spoke the loudest to her with all the laughter and tears shed by the boys. She swore the room would always smell of flu season, or boy-sweat, but today it smelled as sweet as a vase of cut flowers just before drooping and drying out. In the master bedroom, she sat on the carpet and relived her first night in the house with Patrick. The made love on the old carpet that was now long gone, but she could still see and feel the imprint of their bodies in the shag.
Downstairs she opened every closet half expecting to see everyone’s jackets hanging up but those jackets were packed away and were rumbling down the highway toward tomorrow’s rising sun. In the kitchen, she came upon a door jamb with pencil markings chronicling the kids birthday and their height. Patrick had a picture of the jamb, but in her bones Jessie knew that wasn’t enough. In a heartbeat she knew what must be done. She passed the realtor on the porch, a nice white haired woman wearing a prim pantsuit uniform of the profession. She found what she was looking for in the trunk of her car. A tire iron Patrick insisted she have with her in the car. Black, unyielding. Imposing and heavy. The realtor just stood there mouth agape, not quite comprehending what was going on. It took ten minutes but Jessie finally pried the door jamb off the wall leaving an ugly scar on the cupboard wall and the squeal of nails resonating through the empty rooms. The pencil record of a decade and 5 people’s lives were firmly clenched in her hand. Jessie didn’t think of it as vandalizing the house but of bringing a part of her home with her into the future. She walked past the realtor who had stirred from her shock – shouting whatever came to mind. Jessie gently handed over the keys and told her to bill Patrick and her for the repairs. She then walked out the front door feeling whole once more with a tire iron in one hand and her family’s history in the other.