The House of Horrors

Recently, I told my therapist what I intended to do with my family home once both of my parents are gone.

“I’m going to knock it to the ground (maybe I’ll torch it), I’ll sell the land, and never travel down that street as long as I live.”

It’s a very clear intent. It was my house of horrors, after all. Why wouldn’t I want to raze that fucker?!

Lately, I’ve been working from that house. Of all the places I can take my laptop to work – the warehouse, the office, my home, a cafe, a park, a hole in hell – I’ve chosen to take myself to the house that I’ve run from. I’m using my mobile as a hotspot, despite all the places I could go that have free wifi. I even ran out of data the other day, but I went to the house anyway and PAID for extra data. I could have gone anywhere. But I chose to work from the house that I intend to knock to the ground, burn, sell.

Why am I putting myself into, potentially, harm’s way?

There is no desk. I sit at a 60s sextagon laminate table on pleather seats with around an inch of cushioning. Luckily I have a decent ass that cushions my sitting bones. It is NOT comfortable.

But it’s quiet. Italian TV hums in the background – cooking shows, game shows, telenovelas. It’s my second language so my understanding is more limited than if it were, say, Deal or No Deal, so I can block it out. My old bedroom is just out of sight, in my periphery. I never go in there, but I would without any qualms.

Mum talks to the dogs, explains to them why she’s closing the shutters when it’s a hot day, asks them why dad isn’t home yet when it’s almost lunch time. She offers me coffee, fruit, nuts, toast, water, chocolate, biscuits, cheese, more fruit. I mostly decline her offers, but she doesn’t mind. She just likes to hear my voice, I think. She tells me why it’s important to wash grapes three times, why you should never place a knife on the table that way, that it should be this way. Just the sound of her voice used to drive me bananas. Now, it’s gentle, friendly.

Dad has a memory for dates, people, places, so they talk about the old village – who lived where, when they were born, when they started school, got married, had kids, when they came to the new country, when they went back, retired, when they died. It’s remarkable. There’s no reason to doubt him. Everyone knows him for this talent.

Yesterday, mum was telling me about how some man approached her recently and remarked on how gentle my dad is. I laughed and said: he wasn’t gentle for 70 years though. And it’s true. He was so angry, in a rage for most of his life. I still see it in there sometimes but, mostly, at 81, his rage has subsided.

I spent most of my life feeling like the victim when it came to this family. Out of control, controlled by fear and anger. I spent years after wanting that control back. I was cruel. I had the power and I wanted to make sure they knew it. Lately, though, I could give a shit about power. We’re equal, really. I’m middle aged, and they’re elderly. We’re not so different, actually, the three of us heading towards the same place, even if we think it’s a different place. Who knows, we may even get buried in the same hole.

So the fight isn’t important anymore. Not to me. Not to them. We’re still loud – we’re Sicilian, after all.

And the house? It’s not so horrifying anymore. But I still intend to burn that fucker.

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