Her whole life it had been drummed into Grace that every living thing had its cross to bear and no matter how hard she tried to shake it, the house on Saturn Street was her cross. Although she’d left home at fourteen, it was always with her. It didn’t matter what she did to banish it or lay it to rest, it was there; constant as the rise and fall of her breath or the steady, rhythmic beat of her pulse. Not large or small; neither looming nor ominous. Just there, like the scar on her left wrist she fingered every night as she drifted into sleep or the mole on the side of her face, part of the geography of skin. Some days it poked and taunted her, and some days it was a light cloud floating above, invisible to all but Grace, but always, always present.
On winter nights, when the cold that had gathered all day long in the crevices of the bedroom came rushing out, she would find herself returning to the place, a ghost haunting the past. On these nights, no matter how she tried to shake it – looking into the now in the mirror to solidify herself in the present – the house would come at her with a force that threatened to knock her off her feet. She’d open another bottle of wine and, alone, drain it, to stave off the memories tumbling from behind the simple brick façade. And she’d tilt into the past, still enraptured by the special brand of pain that lurked behind those long- abandoned walls. On such nights, distance and time dissolved; the now became muddied with the murky ink of the past, and it was as if she’d never left.
Grace saw Mama again, a small smile flitting about the corners of her mouth. Mama – lost in that faraway world, pondering some private joke, or doing her hair and make-up. Suspended in youth, about Grace’s age now; happy, glowing, alive. At other times, she flew back to the house to find Mama petrified, immobile with fear, like that night he came knocking, the night that marked the beginning of the end.
Tell us: What do you think happened in the house that Grace is remembering?