A False Home
By Madolley Donzo
We tend to cling to our past and the sense of familiarity because it reminds us of home. This prevents many of us from ever actually trying something new or finding who we’re meant to be. My story takes you on the journey of discovering why home isn’t always home.
The blinds were down and the curtains pulled shut. The lights were off, but in the moonlight, the room glowed. Four walls and a single door. There was a chair in the middle of the room and a lamp on a nightstand in the far corner. I strode towards it, only realizing that there was no way to turn the lamp on once I stood right in front of it. I walked towards the heater to check if it was on. It was, but somehow I still shivered in my dark cashmere sweater.
I sat in the chair in this dark and cold room and thought to myself, “Could this be home?” There was a burning smell, almost that of popcorn that had been left in the microwave too long. Yet, somehow, it was the only indication that this room was home. Growing tired of just sitting in the chair, I stood up and walked towards the window. I drew open one of the curtains and looked out into the night. In the dark of the night, all I could make out was the tall, spindly trees with sickly branches that grabbed for the moon. There was a long animalistic howl in the distance that begged me to concede that “Yes! This was home alright.”
I closed the curtain and walked towards the door. I turned the knob to the right, then the left, but nothing happened. The door wouldn’t budge. But how could it be locked? How could my home not let me leave? I went back to the chair, but instead of sitting on it, I decided to lay on the cold, wood floor. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Could this overwhelming darkness be a product of my lost dreams? Or could I just be reveling in the joy of finally being home?” I shut my eyes because the darkness was almost blinding. And that’s when I realized that this—whatever this was—wasn’t home.
I quickly sat up and looked around the room again, more frantic than ever. As I became aware that this room wasn’t home, I was finally able to see the pictures on the walls. Those pictures depicted moments in history, moments that we sometimes overlook or forget entirely. Realizing that this room was a shrine to the past, I jumped to my feet and walked towards the lamp again. Unlike before, the lamp had a small switch. I flicked it on and the room became dimly lit. I looked up to the ceiling and saw someone looking down back at me.
“Go out into this world and make history. The kind of history that people will want to read. Leave your mark on this world and never look back.” That’s what the person in the ceiling mirror mouthed to me. And though I understood what she was asking of me, I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I pushed my fear down, squared my shoulders, lifted my head and walked towards the door. I turned the knob and this time I heard the lock click. I opened the door slowly and stood before the bright lights of the hallway. This threshold between the darkness of the past and the light of the future is what encouraged me to take the step towards something new.
As I stepped into the hall, I didn’t look back at the room I believed to be my “home.” And even now as I write this, I don’t miss the burnt popcorn. Or the cold, staleness of the air. I don’t miss the howls to the moon and surely don’t miss the crippling darkness. Because I found a new home on the pages of my journal and I found my voice within the ink stains of my pen.
Madolley Donzo is a class of 2020 Girls Write Now mentee based in Queens, NY.