It’s a short story inspired by the song “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane, and more specifically, the version/cover by Renee Dominique. A fun fact about my piece is that no characters’ names are mentioned.
My piece is about a girl who wanted to go back somewhere she loved with her sister. It was both a time when her brother and sister was still with her, and a place in the forest. Her sister was leaving like her brother and she was scared of remembering the painful memories, at the same time, forgetting them.
I never really liked the back kitchen door. It was old and dusty, the mesh cut and all over the place. It didn’t belong in place with the rest of the house. Most of all, that was the door used by my brother when I was 8 to go abroad. He hasn’t been back since. Post cards on my birthday and Christmas the first year, the next year, just Christmas. You can see where this went. By the time I was 11, we lost contact of him, we had his number, but it always went to voicemail. He didn’t want my parents to worry so every two months, he’d send an empty box to our front door. My grandma says he’s married, my parents say he’s busy, my friends say left at the first opportunity, and my neighbor says he’s dead. Some neighbor, huh? I wasn’t sad he left; I was sad he didn’t come back. My sister graduated from a local high school and got accepted in a city college. She was going to leave, just like our brother.
One night, I couldn’t get over the fact that she would leave, just like our brother. I decided to get out of bed early in the morning to go out into the fields for a while. As I looked back at our house, a flood of memories hit me like a brick wall. It’s been so long since all our family has been under one roof.
The house itself was beautiful. It was a Nordic-styled farmhouse with whitewash walls, bare wood, and accents of pitch-black metal. It had a lot of plants, my mom wanted to bring the farm inside the house, it wasn’t enough that the farm was outside. Some plants were hanging while others were sitting on clear water in an elegant yet simple glass jars and lightbulbs. During the day, the warm sunlight would effortlessly shine through the windows while during the night, the pale moonlight created a stunning contrast with the graceful flickers of old-fashioned lanterns in our porch.
The whole house was asleep but quietly looking at the stars, was my sister. It was still dark as she looked at the stars, as she fell into a pool of endless thoughts and emotions. She just smiled at me when I sat beside her. It was a different smile she had before she left. There were hints of sadness and satisfaction in her eyes. She didn’t smile as wide as she used to, but it was modest and humble. She didn’t feel happiness, she felt joy. She had joy in someone who she knew would never change, no matter what.
The next day, she was out shopping for stationeries and finalizing her requirements.
I finished all my schoolwork and strolled out in the hot sun and into the thick forest beside our fields. Getting lost wasn’t a problem, we knew the forest and everything in it. Just in case, my sister and I hid emergency bags around the forest, each with a flashlight, batteries, a map, and some canned food. Yes, we spent a whole lot of time in the forest.
I felt twigs crunch under my shoes as my fingers brushed against the rough bark of familiar trees. I closed my eyes while the sun was shining brighter than ever and as heat radiated, the swift breeze found its way through a maze of trees, creating a gentle whistle complimenting the song of the birds that used to lull me to sleep. As I walked, a sliver of water followed me, leading into a river. The river had clear and sweet water. I looked at the river, it didn’t have a fast current nor was it stale. It was serene. After an hour of wandering and roaming around the forest and my memories, I arrived in the heart of the forest where sat a shipping container. My brother, my sister and I worked into fixing it one summer when we found it with moss and mushrooms all over it. My brother somehow managed to cut out a whole side of the container, replacing it with glass. It was the best summer ever. We’d get lost in time there as the hours ticked by. We fixed the inside up, cleaning the rust and creating a cozy place with an amazing view, endless rows of trees and grass.
I took a key from my pocket and unlocked the glass sliding door. Everything was exactly the same. After our brother left, my sister and I sometimes spent days there. We just sat in silence, locking ourselves out from the world. We redid the place, without our brother. It became our hiding place where we’d just laugh our problems away. My sister got busier after a while, or so she said. She loved the place, but she stopped going there because she found it empty without our brother.
I slipped in and approached a wood drawer in the far corner. It was messy inside, but I finally found a box of old CDs. I took my laptop out of my backpack and sat on a braided rug on the floor. The videos stopped loading and there was the play button. I stared at it for a while, scared of remembering. I was scared of remembering the memories I hid away because they made my heart ache. But even more, I was scared of forgetting. I finally gathered some courage to play the videos, and there I was. Slowly, tears gathered in my eyes. Playing in front of me were memories, memories I’ve been dreaming of in my sleep, memories I longed to live again.
After the final video played, the screen went blank. I took a deep breath and walked back home. Was it the end? Was I ever going to see them again? Would I be alone? I got swept away by questions, each one scarier than the last, each one with an answer at the back of my head I don’t want to think of.
The next morning was dull, the sky was covered by clouds while a blanket of fog settled in our fields. My sister was leaving the next morning, hopping to the first train to the city. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath as I knocked on her bedroom door. She opened it for me and smiled, just smiled. I asked her if we could go together, one last time.
With a thin layer of fog in our feet and brisk air in our face, we walked silently. I savored every moment the grass crunched under my shoes. It would be the last time we would go together. I didn’t know when she would be back, or the fact that she would. I shook the thoughts out of my head and focused on the fact that she was still here, beside me, walking to our hideout.
After a long walk, we found ourselves sitting in a cozy container in the heart of the forest. Through all the sadness and fear, we smiled.