My Mother’s House by Francesca Momplaisir Read Online (FREE)
Read My Mother’s House by Francesca Momplaisir online free here.
America. God bless you if it’s good to you.
America, please take my hand.
Can you help me underst—?
—KENDRICK LAMAR (FEATURING U2), “XXX.”
THE HOUSE screamed, “Fire!” from every orifice. Difé! Melting windowpanes rolled down the aluminum siding, dripping polyurethane tears. Orange, blue, and yellow flames hollered their frustration into the icicles along the struggling gutters. The two-story (three, if you counted the basement), one-family (two, again, if the basement was included) House had had enough. Fed up with the burden of Its owner’s absurd hoarding, inexcusable slovenliness, and abuse of power, It spontaneously combusted everywhere a power source sprouted unkempt. The matted nest that passed for a fuse box in the basement; the half-assed hose that connected the gas stove to the wall in the upstairs kitchen; the shaved pipes that pulled natural gas from its source to the boiler and radiators throughout the House; the power strip in the upstairs bedroom that powered a tenant’s hot plate, microwave, refrigerator, stereo, television, DVD player, cable box, computer, and electric shaver and toothbrush; the tangle of Christmas lights left plugged in and blinking as a deterrent to robbers over the holidays. The House blew it all up and burst into tears It had been holding back for decades.
It cried and laughed at the same time, watching the owner scurry out of the basement. When the tenant jumped out the upstairs window, the House doubled over and shook in amusement. It nearly keeled over from being tickled by the rodents and roaches racing one another into and out of their hiding places, confused which would be best—crackle in the fire or crack in the icy January air outside while trying to make it to the safety of a neighbor’s house.
The House listened for the loud cries.
“Anmwey! Difé!” the owner hollered as he ran Its circumference.
It tracked the movements of the owner, who ran around like a man trying to keep his pants up after having missed a belt loop while getting dressed. It watched as Its pajama-clad owner rushed from the backyard up the skinny driveway to the front stoop, then through the frozen garden in the empty parcel where another house could have been built, then around to the backyard again. The House didn’t see where the tenant vanished to, but he was gone before the ambulance arrived. It had a hard time emoting and keeping eyes on the owner simultaneously, but the House continued to cry and laugh convulsively.
“Anmwey!” the owner shrieked as he waited for help to arrive, help the House did not want.
It tried to figure out how to drown out his cries. It screamed in different ways for different reasons until sirens overwhelmed them both. The fire trucks pulled up out front and, mercifully, the drivers silenced the blaring. But the night was far from still. The House blinked rapidly as the engines’ discordant lights made a visible noise of their own. It closed Its eyes to shut out the annoying but necessary red and yellow spinning that cracked the dark freezing night. Desperate for attention, It pumped out flames with renewed vigor like a toddler in a tantrum forcing herself to cry harder.