342 Mount Ross Road, Pine Plains, Dutchess County: Living Room

The room has five doors and two windows. My father told me it was the original room. The radio is talking about the stars on the porch and my mother is thumping things to the floor upstairs. There is only one lamp and the wood burning stove is warm. My rocking chair cannot rock because it is too close to the wall. My father hates when I bang into walls, “Who has to paint these walls? Not you! Move the chair away from the wall before you sit down or you can paint the damn porch yourself!” I can hear the trees groaning and swaying beyond my bedroom window. I am in the painting studio and he is singing a song about tree people, my tree people: Tree people, tree people, look like trees but taste like people. There were other verses and now the radio is playing brassy jazz numbers that are unfamiliar and too buoyant for this time of night and my drowsiness. My face is roasting by the fire and my left arm too. The chairs do not match and there are piles of books in the corner because our bookshelf broke two summers ago and we never replaced it. Who read Europe Without a Baedeker, never mind it’s Orwell anyone in this house could have read it. My Grandmother had fake plastic wood flooring that stuck to pudgy young thighs and when Orwell wobbled onto the screen next to Lucille Ball in a snorkel and flippers I would stand up too quickly because I was embarrassed and the fake plastic flooring left angry red spots on my legs. Now Grandma can’t remember grace Bless us oh lord for these gifts we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ, amen. Father son and holy ghost, eat the fastest eat the most. And my grandfather’s telling me that you used to be able to sit on the Bethany Beach and watch Soviet submarines sinking American tankers and I am doubting this and hating chemistry and wondering what that ship is doing all day in one spot. There is a painting of a river and two framed doilies and all the glass things my mother keeps. My mother loves doilies but she is not very domestic and cannot stay focused long enough.

Eleanor Neil
Age 16, Grade 11
Saint Ann’s School
Silver Key

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