I liked the room as soon as I walked in. It looked special and fancy to me, with matching woods in the tables by the sofa and in the frames on the wall. The sofa looked prissy but cozy in a regally-formed velvet way. The walls were the first I could remember that weren’t painted white. They were an oddly compelling green, like the tufted bench at the polished piano. The wooden floors looked spit-shined and were silent, no squeaks. There were crystal bowls and vases filled with colorful flowers and sparkling water. The bowl I remember most held my manna, little wrapped chocolates.
As the old lady slowly led me to the sofa, I could not help but feel I was in a dream. Certainly the home looked like a stylish ranch outside but was a veritable palace inside. What struck me most was the feeling of stepping into another world; a world of clean lines, soft cushions, sweet air, kind smiles, and chocolates. A block or so away was my house- never a home- with shabby furniture, cracked dishes, mismatched glasses, stale air, and angry, cold words.
I wished this lady would keep me longer. I wanted to hear her genteel voice tell me of the beautiful things I had read in children’s books. I was very reluctant to leave. I think she was confused by my hesitation, but she was just one of many who thought they saw my life as a pretty portrait. It’s easy to hide most hurts when people don’t want to see.
Surviving in that other house down the street was partly made possible by the brief views I had of Louise’s home. It often costs to look back but some memories are free.