Toni’s ancestors founded the city of Weston and his father was the mayor. At eighteen, he picked a university that was on the other side of the country. After he graduated, he found a job in the same town and never went back to the city. But he had to return when he got the call from his aunt, who told him his parents had died and had to clean out the house. He refused, but his aunt said, “There’s no other living soul who can do this.” Toni sighed and agreed.
He booked a flight to Weston a few weeks out to deal with the grieving process, but he would never fully grieve until he emptied that house.
The day came, he got on the plane and landed ten hours later. He rented a car and drove to the house. Thunder clapped in the distance and when he opened the front door, lightning struck the house. He got shocked when he touched the doorknob. He was taken aback but still opened the door. He tried to turn on the lights, but the power went out. He turned on the flashlight on his phone.
He found his way to the kitchen and walked through the door frame. He was transmogrified into the mind of his six-year-old self. He wanted a cookie so bad, he tried to reach for the cookie jar on top of the fridge. He shook the fridge and glass and cookies fell onto the kitchen floor. His parents came in and yelled at him. His mother yelled, “Look what you did, you cracked the title!”
He would be punished.
He flashed back to adulthood and the light came back on. He thought he was just remembering or he had blacked out. Toni looked at the wall where his father marked his childhood heights in lines.
He touched them and immediately was sent back to when his father pitched the idea.
“What if I measure your height over the years to see how tall you’ve grown?”
“Here, stand over there and I’ll show you.”
Young Toni walked over to the wall.
“Now put your back against the wall and stand up straight. There, now let me — measure you.”
Little Toni stepped away from the wall, looked at the marking, and walked away.
He flashed through his youth until his eighteen birthday.
“Looks like that’s all your gonna grow five feet ten inches,” his dad said.
“Hey, I could still grow a few more inches,” teenage Toni replied.
“I don’t think so.”
He removed his hand from the wall and flashed back to his present-day self. “Woah, something is going on with this house or me,” he said to himself. He packed up the dishes and cups. He checked the fridge for anything remnants of food and he found nothing but a box of baking soda. He set the boxes in the living room and marked them “KITCHEN”. He walked upstairs to his bedroom. He opened the door and found it the way he left it before he left for college.
He picked up a little ball on the floor and he was sent back to sixteen. He laid in bed and waited for his mother to come home. He threw this little pink bouncy ball at the wall.
He heard his dad walk up the stairs and open his bedroom door. “I just got a call from the hospital. Your mom was in a car accident while driving home.”
“Oh my god, is she okay?” Toni asked in his cracking pubescent voice.
“She’s in the ICU right and we can visit her tomorrow. Are you gonna be okay?”
“I’ll be fine.”
“Let me know if you want to talk.” His dad closed the door and walked back downstairs.
Young Toni cried himself to sleep.
He flashed back to the present day and he felt the little dents in the wall from the ball. A tear fell down his face. He boxed up his remaining clothes and the stuff in his closet. He left his old bedroom and as he walked down the stairs, he unhooked the family photos from the wall. He set tried to balance the boxes on his way to the living room, but he tripped on something. The boxes fell and the glass of picture frames cracked. “Well, as long as the photos are still in tack,” he said to himself. He looked at the photos and saw the one with his father and him at a football game. His father always used to take him to football games when he was little. He then picked up a photo of his mother. She used to bring him to soccer practice even after her long shifts as a nurse. He swept up the dust and little shards of glass and taped up the box. He grabbed the doorknob of the front door, but it shocked him.
He saw a glimmer of the future, he was in his forties and saw his own teenage son coming down the stairs dressed up for prom. He flashed to his mid-forties when he helped his son pack up his room for college.
He flashed back to the present day and thought about buying this house. He could raise his own family here. He tried to turn the knob, but the door was locked. He unlocked the door, but it still wouldn’t open. It must have been stuck, so he pushed and pulled on the door. But it wouldn’t budge. He tried the back door and he walked outside. He saw the treehouse that fell down in his
teens. He tried to open the gate, but there was some kind of force field in place disallowing him to leave. Lightning struck outside the force field and then on the roof of the house. The gate opened and he left. Toni opened the trunk of his car and brought the boxes out from inside the house. Once he finished, he drove away.
He later bought a different house with his fiancee to raise his future kids in.