Memories of a Home

By the time we made it back to the house the sun had gone down, and a soft darkness had taken over the little town we were visiting. Not having been in the house for decades and not remembering its details, we walked around looking for a light switch, but before we could find one that worked our eyes adjusted to the darkness, and Tom pointed out the moonlight through the window fell directly over a table in the hallway.

We had seen the table many times; the beautiful carvings in the rosewood, the Chippendale style dragon legs, and the inserted porcelain plaque on the top, in a classic Chinese Export manner, with an image of the Forbidden City. The table was once part of our childhood, and now the moonlight presented it to us one last time.

“Which one are you?” He asked me, deliberately inviting Sophia and I to play a game we played as kids, when the three of us walked around that same home and made up stories about the pictures we found in books, always putting ourselves inside the pictures of course.

“I would be one of the girls fanning the emperor.” Sophia responded faster than me, and added, “the one to his left, she looks content with her job, but she is thinking about someone else. And Paul would be the one signing the paper. You could be the one holding the paper, Tom.” She laughed.

“I would like to be the emperor,” I confessed and saw in the darkness how Tom and Sophia smiled, “but probably would be the one signing, or the one at the front who looks upset. You could be the one looking through the window, Sophia, and Tom can be the one turning around towards the emperor, he looks serious.” Tom smiled, and pretended to imitate the image turning around and not facing us. We all laughed, but we knew then we were scared, and there was sadness behind those laughs.

We waited for Tom to respond, but he didn’t, and only then Sophia started crying softly. We couldn’t play anymore, we had to discuss what we had come to discuss, who was keeping what from our parents and what was being sold. We all looked at the table, and this time more than ever, wished we were inside of it.

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