It was a strange little house, but I’d always loved it. My favourite part was the window in the attic. I’d sneak up there just before dawn broke every morning and watch the sunlight pouring into the dark space, cleansing every inch of it until it shone all around me.
I’d lay down on the floor, bathing in the soft sunlight that flooded the room, watched over by the house. I was never alone when I was up in my attic paradise, surrounded by so many sweet memories, and all of the treasures my Uncle and I collected over the years.
I’d be late to breakfast every day, so enchanted by the beauty of the morning, but my Uncle didn’t mind. He’d have my cereal waiting with a glass of juice, and a big smile. My Brother and Sister headed off to school but I’d stay home, watching my Uncle work in between my lessons.
I was home schooled.
It wasn’t like people think. They often get visions of smothering parents, kids with no friends and all that, but it wasn’t like that at all. I just had a little trouble adjusting to school, that’s all.
I’d watch over the flowers in our back garden for a little while before my school day began, wondering what the earthworms thought of what lay beneath the spiralling stalks and pretty petals.
I learned a lot from staying home with my Uncle. He had so much to teach me, and so many secrets to share, but my Brother and Sister were jealous. I was always his favourite, you see.
The house had secrets too. Sometimes, it was like it spoke to me, whispering all the things that it was too afraid to say out loud. The house had seen so much, and needed to be unburdened, so every morning, as the sun woke from its slumber, the house would whisper another secret to me, and I would keep it close to my chest.
This week, everything changed.
I climbed down from my attic paradise, hungry for cereal and knowledge, but the kitchen table was bare. My Brother and Sister were gone and my Uncle was nowhere to be found.
I wandered the house, calling out to him, suddenly heaped in helplessness as the hallways responded with gruff silence.
I searched the living room, the garage, the garden and each of the bedrooms before I found him. As I pushed open his bedroom door, he glared over at me, his face frozen in a hard stare as he sat, motionless in bed.
They said that it was a heart attack. He watched them all coming and going as they searched for a long lost pulse and pressed down on his chest with heavy hands.
The paramedics kept asking if I had anyone that I could call, but I had nobody.
Our parents had died decades before, crushed into nothingness in a car crash, and he took us in. Now, I have nobody.
We were sent to a foster family, but I went home almost as soon as I’d arrived. There was nothing for me there, and the house was to be mine when I turned eighteen anyway. As I said, I was his favourite.
They came looking for me, but their search didn’t last long. The house had only just got me back, and didn’t want me to go.
Neither did he.
Like I said, they believed it was a heart attack, but they must have been wrong. He’s been here with me this whole time.
Things are different now, though.
There’s no point in school, he says. Nothing more that he can teach me, nothing else I can do. I have to help him make my breakfast, and I’m not doing lessons anymore. I’m doing exams instead.
Applying the knowledge he’s passed down to me, that’s what he says. The house cheers me on, gesturing to the steak knives, so clear and clean on the kitchen side, desperate to be dirtied in defence of this place.
I can’t leave, you see. It’s my home, and I must keep it safe from all the outsiders. My so called family chose their side, and I’ve always known what mine is.
They called to me through the letterbox. A social worker insisted that I just needed some time to adjust, but she didn’t know anything.
I’d taken the keys, and so they began ramming the front door. Big, burly police officers threw their shoulders against the oak soaked in scarlet paint, but I stood firm, hearing my house weep and scream in pain as the monsters made their way inside.
They can’t have wanted to rescue me that badly, because they didn’t stay very long. Soon, they were a sweet treat for the earthworms, and I was alone again, up in my attic paradise, surrounded by my treasures as dawn drenched us in sunlight.
I added three new treasures to our collection, and my Uncle grinned. I’ve done so well. I’m not even fifteen, and I’m passing exams already. I’m surrounded by our treasures, and now I’ve found some all by myself. The social worker stares with her big, brown eyes as the sunlight skims over her, and now, my Brother and Sister are home where they belong.
I think I’m going to lie down on the floor, just as I always do, and let the soft sunlight wash over me until our treasures shimmer and sparkle.
Then, it’s time for breakfast.