It’s time for a change in outward appearance, be it a character, yourself, or someone in your life. In 500 words or less, write about a makeover of your choice (hair, clothes, makeup, facial hair for the menfolk), fictional or memoir/creative non-fiction. Let’s think about how physical appearance changes can affect the inner landscape.
I took a different approach to this prompt, choosing to write about demise - the antithesis of a makeover. And instead of writing about a specific character, I took the approach of writing about the end of an era of a family home.
On the far side of the street, I loitered on the sidewalk watching the house. A careful observer, not wanting to draw attention. Of course, this neighborhood had gone through periods of exoduses over the years. Original families were displaced throughout the state, different countries. No one would be around to offer awkward condolences.
Twelve months. Only twelve months had passed since the plane crash. After a joint funeral, meetings with my parents’ financial advisors and deciding how to divide the estate, David and I had stood in the front yard watching my parents’ existences being auctioned away to strangers. Two days later, the For Sale sign went up. Memories are hazy, but I do remember how absurd it was that our realtor spent 40 minutes finding the perfect location for a stupid sign.
I loved growing up in that house on this street - Mulberry Street, a peaceful, unassuming name envied by those who did not have the privilege to call this quintessential American neighborhood home. Hollywood depicted the essence of our street in those feel good, family flicks where quiet streets were lined with mature trees rising up tall and proud with outstretched limbs, protecting the families on the other side. Each house had a quartet of steps that guided you up to the sidewalk leading to your front door. The homes were two-stories, simple architecture with flat fronts and a collection of windows. Each house displayed a wreath on the different colored front doors. The original families had agreed to keep the doors unique. No two houses could have the same color front door as no two families were the same.
Twelve months and the deaths of the last of the original families was all it took for the magic of this street to dissipate like the morning fog. 52 Mulberry Street, a house once envied by neighbors and visitors had fallen into a deep depression as if it too mourned the loss of it’s old family.
Garden societies visited our home bi-annually complementing my mother on her azaleas, the monstrous hostas that needed constant dividing, her expertly pruned hydrangeas, marigolds that exploded from unusual containers found at barn sales my mom frequented on Saturday mornings. The gardens that hugged our house rippled from season to season never drooping in the Midwestern humidity nor dying off in the winter. The transition from each stage of growth was natural, enchanting and, always, beautiful.
Now, the gardens were in such disarray that I barely recognized the house. My mom’s prize-winning flowers had been ripped from the soil, exposing a bare, ugly foundation. Too much upkeep for today’s schedule-weary families. Even the deeply-rooted oak tree that once held my beloved tire swing had been hacked to a ragged stump.
My thoughts on God, the afterlife were in limbo. But if there is an after-life, I hoped that my mom was somewhere as luscious as her gardens once were, walking among her flowers shielded from the mess that this earthly garden had become. Because if she saw it now, it would kill her all over again.