Frozen Memories by Cody Lasseter
I park my car across from the house, looking for any signs of movement, but all the lights are off and the lawn is overgrown. Taking one last drag from my cigarette, I step out of the car and pull my hood over my head. I toss the cigarette on the cool ground, letting the raindrops extinguish it. I step in between the potholes on the old paved road, all of which are filled with water. My stomach drops as I reach the driveway, and I realize that the old tire swing isn’t in the big oak tree anymore. No kids will ever swing around the tree, laughing without worry like I did for so many years. Slowly I make my way towards the front door. I pull another cigarette out in hopes that it will calm my nerves. There’s nothing for me to be nervous about, but smoking helps regardless.
The front door has been painted another color, a navy color, which makes the whole front porch look much darker and uninviting. My mother insisted the door be painted yellow when we moved in; she said it looked more inviting. She didn’t realize, however, how hard it is to keep a yellow door clean throughout the year. Dad had to buy a power washer and spray it at least twice a month to keep it bright and yellow. Leaning forward, I cup my hands around my eyes to try and see inside the house. My warm breath fogs up the cold window, obscuring my view. A car drives past me on the road, and the man driving waves to me looking very skeptical. I realize how sketchy I must look right now, so I look around quickly before making my way to the side of the house.
Standing on my toes, I look over the fence that separated our yard from the Davis’s. Mr. Davis always had a glass of lemonade for my sister and I during the summer, we appreciated the lemonade, but he appreciated the company. He didn’t have anyone to talk to after his wife passed away from cancer, so we visited often and played board games with him. Monopoly was his favorite and he somehow won every time we played. I remember the day he died. We were on summer vacation; I was eleven years old. My sister and I were in the backyard playing with the sprinkler because it was so hot out. We agreed that we could use some lemonade so we walked next door, but Mr. Davis didn’t answer. He always answered. Our parents called the cops, and they said that he had a heart attack in his sleep, but that he didn’t feel a thing. Summer never felt the same after that.
I walk over to the rickety faded white gate that leads to the backyard and unlatch it from the other side. I walk like a ghost over the frozen wet ground making my way to the wall that separated our house from the road. Slowly, I rub my hand across the rough faded red bricks. I can’t even count how many times my sister and I have climbed over this wall, quietly sneaking to the other side where our friends were waiting for us. We somehow never got caught, even though I think mom and dad knew. Tears start pouring from of my eyes and I wish more than anything that I could go back in time and live my years here over again.
Slumping down, I lean against the cold bricks to give me support as I sit on the ground. Looking around, I’m surprised to see that not much has changed. The swing set that dad built us for Christmas one year is still standing, so I walk over to it and sit down on a swing. The rain slowly starts to transition to snow, and a shiver runs throughout my body.
Pushing my feet forward, I start swinging through the cool air. The large tree that was in the middle of the yard still has our half finished tree house in it. Dad tried to finish building it multiple times, but every time he added more onto it, the tree got struck by lighting. He decided that was a good enough reason to stop building it. We were all extremely confused as to how the tree could survive being struck by lightning so many times, but we named it Ray after my grandpa, because it was so resilient.
I stop swinging and close my eyes. It is so quiet that I imagine that I can even hear snowflakes hitting the ground as a gentle accompaniment to the all too real – and harsh – sounds made by cars driving past me on the other side of the wall. I smile while another tear rolls down my face and falls to the ground. It starts snowing harder, and I decide that I’m ready to leave. I walk back to the little faded white gate. Turning around, I give my old backyard one final look. I smile again at all the memories I’ve made in this place. Walking back to my car, my phone starts ringing and I answer it. “When are you coming home babe,” my wife asks me. “I’m headed there right now,” I say with a smile.