FICTIONHome by Evie Ryan art by Selah PotmaVines climb up the crumbled remains of the railing. The door is barely hanging on its rusty hinges. The old brick structure has settled down into the soil it sat on top of years ago.Ridiculus AdipiscingNulla vitae elit libero,
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Shattered window panes have left glass scattered across the unkempt lawn, and the curtains of the house are drawn tightly behind the broken glass. Those same windows once held beautiful stained glass between their frames.The driveway is covered with cracks and completely taken over by nature, just like the overgrown house. All different species of plants grow around the tiny house on the corner of Adoren Street.No light ever peeks through curtains and no car is ever parked in the driveway. Nailed to the front of the door is an old brass knocker with thorns growing around it. It seems perfect to keep out unwanted visitors.Another peculiar thing is that not once has the house been for sale. Not once has anyone seen a soul emerge out of the heavy wooden door. Not once has there been any kind of indication that anyone lives in the tiny shelter.“Go,” Hallie whispers as she pushes me closer to the fallenover front gate.“I will, I will. Just give me a second,” I insist, as my heartbeat quickens. Why would I agree to such a stupendous dare?I’ve even heard that some kid knocked on the door to this house and no one ever saw him again.“Stop being such a wimp! Just go up and knock!” Hallie persists, as she continues attempting to shove me through the front gate.“Maybe I should do it another day, you know? So Alex can see,”I plead.“Scaredy cat, scaredy cat!” she chants repeatedly until I finally shove my hand over her mouth.“Shhh! They’re gonna hear you!”“So you are scared. I knew it!”“I’m not, I’m not, I’ll do it!” I say as I force my legs to finally unfreeze and carry me to the front door.As I approach the door I slowly turn back to the street and see Hallie signaling to me to knock on the door. I take a deep breath and reach out for the knocker, my eyes pressed shut.Suddenly, I feel an unimaginable pain shoot up through my hand. I open my eyes and look down. Blood is dripping slowly out of my palm. Looking up, I remember the thorns on the knocker.I look back at Hallie with pleading eyes, but instead of the warm, comforting look I hoped for, she once again gestures towards the door.I look back up at the front door towering over my head. The house has never looked more terrifying than it does at this moment.My hand still throbbing, I reach out to knock on the door once again. This time without grasping onto the thorns wrapped around the shiny brass. I clench my fist and pound against the peeling crimson paint on the door. My entire body freezes.Do I run? Do I hide? Is Hallie still staring at me from outside the gate? Loud thuds proceed toward the door from inside the house.My mind tells me to run, but my legs will not budge.The sound of a bolt sliding open echoes on my eardrums. The knob on the door begins to turn.I look back at Hallie and her face drops into a horrified look. She stares above my head in utter disbelief.I slowly turn around, and there, just a few feet away from me, is an old man. His beard is much too long and his ears kind of stick out. A frown stretches across his face.“Who are you?” he asks in a thoroughly confused tone.“I’m Dianne,” I burst.“Dianne? Dianne? Do I know you from somewhere?”“I don’t think so, but I do live just around the corner.”“Well, nice to meet you, Dianne.Sorry about the mess. It’s been hard keeping the house in shape since I lost my wife about — wow, ten years ago. You can probably tell it’s been a long time since I’ve done any work on the yard.”“I’m sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can do to help out?”Out of the corner of my eye I see Hallie slightly leaning in, listening to our conversation.“Really? You mean it? I would love that, Dianne.” The corners of his mouth curve into a smile.“I’ve actually got to head home now. How about I come by Saturday? My mom is a great gardener. I bet she’d love to help clean up a little,” I propose.For the first time, the house doesn’t look so scary to me.Beautiful red and orange leaves cover the sidewalk as my grassstained sneakers clear a path through the colorful piles. I look to my right, and there in front of me is the house. It somehow looks different from when I saw it last. It feels less threatening than it did before.“This is it?” Mom chuckles.“Yep,” I say with a smirk.“Well then, we sure have got a lot of work to do.”We get to work. Snipping, mowing, and doing a million other things, trying to transform the house back to its original beauty. The sun begins to set, letting us know it’s time to head home.As my mom and I pack up our tools, I take a look at what we’ve accomplished so far. It’s not perfect. Nothing truly is.But it seems like the house is finally able to breathe, no longer suffocated by the weeds, thorns and vines.Early the next morning, we make our way back to the house.We return again and again to work more on our house transformation.After a few weeks I declare, “Done!”I feel great, looking at all of our hard work. The door is screwed tightly into its hinges. The pieces of the fallen-over railing are no longer scattered across the lawn.The windows are visible to the street, no longer covered by overgrown bushes. The driveway’s cracks are filled with gravel and the lawn looks kept.The windows have new glass placed between their frames and purple lilacs are growing along the edge of the house.The old man slowly makes his way to the front gate, and turns back to face the house.“Oh my goodness,” he whispers.“Do you like it?”“I, I,” he stutters, “I love it. The house hasn’t looked like this in a very long time.” A smile spreads across his face.I smile back. “I’ve got to get going. Dinner will be ready soon.”“Thank you, Dianne,” the old man says. “You are a truly kind person.”As I walk home, I look back at the tiny house, and notice that for the first time in a while, it truly looks like a home.Evie, 13, MA is an 8th grader who wrote this story based on a run-down house close to her house. Whenever she went past the house she wondered about it and wanted to help fix it. That sparked the idea for this story.Selah, 14, CA has been drawing since she could hold a pencil. She enjoys reading fantasy books and graphic novels, watching TV, frogs, and memes.