A Familiar Stranger

Coming back to a place after some time is like walking into your home to find the furniture rearranged. Only, everything is exactly how you left it. Unnervingly so. The unfamiliarity floats about like particles of lint that confirm the passage of time. And yet, there hang the drawings on the refrigerator door, the stain of a spill on the flip side of a cushion, and the scribbled on a notepad near the telephone; reminders of appointments long since expired.

Here was life, there is no question of that. But between then and now, much has changed. Memory’s betrayal is subtle, like the smell of petals growing weak against the winds of an approaching winter. You make your way past the foyer, up the staircase, and into the bedroom. The afternoon sun still spills its rays generously through the window. A teddybear greets you with open arms, its ear still frayed from that time it got caught in the vacuum machine. The colors of the quilt have faded, a brief observation that registers as you sit down.

Outside a dog barks, and the sound of Autumn leaves crunching beneath the wheel of a baby’s pram are heard. A distinct silence settles in their wake, and a cold draft echoes from within. It is as cathartic as it is frightening, as beautiful as it is sad; to feel so foreign in a place so familiar.

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