November 29, 2023

Writing Exercise: The Basement

This was a writing assignment for my Creative Writing class. Nothing groundbreaking. A few nice places. Figured I should share and keep practicing.

Prompt: Describe the basement of the house in which you grew up. Use details rather than adjectives (fun, happy, sad) to reveal its meaning in your life.

The home I grew up in was a colonial revival home, originally built in the early 1900s. The gabled roof, rectangular frame and dark shutters hid one of my biggest fears below; the coal room. 

The steps down into the cellar were known for attempted murder. My mom has gone to the emergency room no less than 4 times because of them. Each step wailed and groaned under the weight of air. They gave out from time to time which meant that they became mismatched with new wood precariously wedged in.

My mom made the space as functional as she could with what limited resources were at her disposal. A washer and dryer were against the only windowed wall, revealing a view of the cobwebs beneath the back porch. Clothes hung to dry perpendicularly to the laundry area. When tending to the wash, the coal room loomed just a few feet behind.

My parents called the entry door to the coal room rustic. The manner with which you had to lift it on its hinges to open or shut it was called charming. My younger siblings and I considered it a menace, barely holding back all manner of living shadows behind it’s split and rotting wood.

At the turn of the century, the house had been heated by a gravity furnace. Pieces of it remained and lurked in the coal room. It was like an octopus of a mechanical beast, with large metal ductwork splayed out from it in eight different directions. When the house was quiet, the metal creaked. The sounds carried up to the registers above like secrets. I could press my ear to the register grates and almost decipher what it said.

The floor and walls of the basement were perpetually blanketed in coal dust. Despite the coal being removed half a century before we moved in. The stonework foundation was cast in a sepia-tone. My siblings and I dreaded being assigned the task of sweeping the basement. It was a futile task, the dust was impossible to completely remove. It was more a matter of making the dust appear smooth along the cracks in the floor, rather than actually removing any of it.

November 22, 2023

The Holiday Hush

There’s something about the holiday, particularly the day before THE day, that puts a hush over everyone at work. Sure I work at a library, so you’re thinking we hush all the time. We don’t. Times have changed. No, the hush I mean is the same hush as when snow blankets the ground and dampens the sound. 

It’s quiet. Just slightly muted. Hushed.

It’s a happy kind of quiet though. A relaxed quiet. You can almost see the visions dancing in your coworkers’ eyes. The time with loved ones ahead of them. The twinkle of excitement. The longing for the day of respite ahead. It’s there bubbling over and into the stacks. There’s just a little more laughter. A few more smiles. A collective sigh of relief throughout the day. 

That was my day today. And I am oh so thankful.