Home                                                                                                                             Maggie Bradley

    I forget why, but I remember one time when I was going to the corner store, and a guy across the street flicked up his head at me and out of reflex and politeness I flicked back. I didn’t really pay attention, but after passing a couple of houses I noticed that the guy was following behind me. I guess he must’ve crossed the street awhile back. I didn’t think he meant any harm though, so I just kept walking to the store; maybe he just forgot something and had to go back to the store. 

So I went into the Piggly Wiggly but I don’t really remember what I got, maybe it was milk or something because I know that I had to get home as soon as possible. Maybe I was cooking and needed some milk. But so anyways, I was walking kind of fast heading home and that guy was following me again! I wonder if he went into the store with me or not…but either way, he was following me home. Now, maybe it was all just a crazy coincidence, because I do get very paranoid pretty easy, but I started sweating and it wasn’t very hot outside so I knew I was sweating because I was nervous.

I finally made it to my street and I went as far as I usually go to get to my house, but my house wasn’t there. So I kept going to see if maybe my house was farther down the street but not once did I see it down the whole entire street. I saw a few houses that were identical to mine, but I knew that none of them were mine because their names were different and I was probably on the wrong street. I didn’t want to turn around in case I ran into the guy who was following me. And I knew he was still behind me because I started to feel humid breath stick to the strands of my short frizzy hair and soak through them down onto my neck. 

Instead of turning around, which I knew I could not do because my legs would not stop, I took a right at the end of the street because I knew my house was down the way if I took a right. Taking a right, there was a concrete bridge for cars to go on to pass over this long drainage ditch and so I began walking down that to get to my street. My granny who lives far away was fishing on the edge of the bridge and she stopped and waved to me when I passed. I thought it was kind of weird that she didn’t try to help or notice anything was wrong even though I was walking pretty stiffly and quickly, but then again maybe she was waving a casual hello to the man who was walking behind me or maybe she did not even see him because he was so close to me and thought that maybe I just had to hurry to the bathroom. My granny probably wasn’t catching anything because she was just fishing in a ditch but it’s okay because she is very Cajun. 

Off the bridge, I could still feel this guy’s breath and every so often, the hands that he swung back and forth as he walked fast would accidentally brush against the back of my thighs and then disappear. I did not turn around and tell him that he was doing this because it was probably an accident and I didn’t want to embarrass him. Besides, it wasn’t important, the only thing I wanted to do really was find my house. 

After my right turn, there were many streets but I knew that none of them probably had my house, so I just kept walking. I wasn’t really keeping track of where or how far I was going so maybe I had already passed up my house which would be okay but now where would I be going to? At the end of the road was a house and some bushes which were kind of like the fence of the house and since it was not mine I knew that I should not go in the house, so instead I went into the bushes because there was a big field behind them.

I don’t know where the field came from because I thought the world stopped past the house, so maybe I had actually fallen off of the world and was in a new one that came after the end. The field was not attractive and kind of green but mostly yellow and the grass was tall so that I couldn’t see my ankles and it tickled my legs. Except I didn’t know if it was the grass tickling me, or the guy who was still following behind me and also when was he going to get tired of all of this? 

So I kept fast-walking through this ugly field and then there was a swing set right plain in the middle of it, which I had not before seen, but then again I was not really looking for a swing set. Even though it was rusty and there were only two swings, I thought that I might be able to lose this guy if I went on the swing set because he would no longer be able to catch up with me. I got on the swing and the seat was cracked but it was okay because it still worked. I started swinging and I was pretty sure I lost him because he wasn’t behind me anymore. I thought that if I swung enough I would be able to go high enough to where he couldn’t find me, even if he got on a swing, too.

I think I went too high though because I wasn’t in the ugly field anymore. Instead I had swung my way onto a farm. It was one of those alpaca farms outside Helsinki, Finland. If the alpaca farmer saw me, he would not be happy and the guy would start following me again. So instead I heaved myself onto one of the alpaca’s backs and I stayed on top of her so that the farmer would not notice me. 

She had really long fur so I knew that the farmer was going to shear them all right now but that is okay as long as he did not notice me. I held on tight to her neck and waited for the farmer to put his stool beneath her to begin shearing away all of her expensive wool. I slid my body to the side of her on which the farmer was not and waited for him to be done. Once he left, I got back on top of her but when I looked down she was gone so actually I was just standing still on the farm. 

Standing still seemed okay, but I also felt a tingling in the balls of my feet which ran up the back of my calves and I knew that standing still was not a good thing for me anymore and I knew I had to go and go as soon as possible because if I kept standing still, the bad things would happen. I did not what the bad things to happen, so a plan had to be made.

I needed to know how to get back home so I had to ask the farmer’s wife to help me because she would not mind seeing me, probably. I went into the big chrome barn where the farmer puts his alpacas at night and the farmer’s wife was in there knitting a blanket for her pregnant self. I said, “Hey can you help me find my house, I am not supposed to be here.” And she was going to answer me, but she did not speak English because we were still in Finland and she only understood Finnish or Swedish. I had not been keeping up with my Swedish lessons so I did not know how to tell her ‘never mind, I can look myself thank you’ so instead I just left her to her pregnant knitting.

The cotton candy alpacas were all in the barn now because it was raining hard and they cannot get wet or else they would melt and they did not want me to melt also. So instead, I went out the backdoor and walked to Belgium where it was not yet raining. When I got there, everyone was happy to see me but I was a bit nervous because I had never been to Belgium and I did not want to get lost and have to wander around the streets when it got dark because a long time ago, my mom told me not to. 

I found a place that said it sold food and so I told it ‘ok’ and went inside and it was telling me the truth because inside were bread bowls with rice and gravy and chicken inside them. I guessed that was what they had inside them even though they were not yet bowls and the tops needed to be cut off before I could eat the rice and gravy and chicken and sausage. I knew that the man who was chasing me before was inside one of the bread bowls so I shook them all first and did not pick up the one that gave a muffled grunt when I shook it.  I picked one with liquid inside and I brought it outside because I was not allowed to open it inside because there was no one at the counter and only the person who works at the counter could open the bowls inside.

I put it in my pocket because I was not hungry yet but I knew I needed it for later. When I put it in my pocket I remembered that I needed to dust and vacuum my room so now it was even more important that I find my home because if I did not vacuum and dust soon my room would catch on fire and my goldfish would get too hot and maybe die. 

I knew that to get to my house I would have to go across the Atlantic Ocean because that was where I lived, so I headed for the nearest dock which was right on my left and I told the man that I needed to go across the Atlantic and he said, “Une minute” because he was Belgian and I told him okay but then my tummy hurt. He came back with a wooden boat that looked like the emergency boats on old cruise ships which is where he got this particular boat. The man looked like the chaser man, but I did not point this out to him and he did not mention it, so I pretended it was not obvious and I told him thank you and put it in the water and sat in it. 

The boat worked fine except that I was too big for it and when I squeezed all of my body and my limbs in the boat, it was too heavy to float and it touched the bottom but that was okay because it was not very deep, only three feet. I got out the boat and picked it up and started walking back to the man to give him his emergency boat back.

He was not there when I got back and the boat was getting too heavy for me to drag anymore so I tied it to a tree but then I couldn’t even see the boat because there was very thick fog all around me because of the rain up in Finland. I held onto the rope and ran my hand along it to see if I could feel the boat at the end. The rope was made from the wool of steel alpacas and then I ran my hand along it as I went, it gave me horrible splinters.

The rope was very long and I walked with it for at least ten miles in the fog before I came to the end of the rope where the boat was. Except the boat was not there and instead my dog, Frank was tied to the end of it. I said, “Frank, what are you doing here man? You know we need to go home now.” So I picked him up and took out my pair of scissors to cut the rope off. The rope was really thick so it took a lot of work to cut with scissors, but when I started gnawing on the scissors with my teeth, it went much faster.

I picked up Frank in my arms and he was smelly and damp from the fog. I had to pinch out all the steel wool splinters from his matted fur, but then I thought he was probably thirsty so I told him to stick his tongue out to catch the droplets of moisture in the air and he did. He was not heavy to carry, in fact I did not notice his weight at all, but nonetheless we kept moving forward to get home. 

We came across a melon salesman from the clouds and he told us that if we bought enough of his cloud melons, we would find the boat. Frank had money from his trip to Germany and unraveled his curled pig’s tail to give me the money so that I could give it to the man. There was a rule in Belgium that you were not allowed to do business with minors and dogs…he was both. So the melons were bought and after the transaction, the melon man told us to watch out for the following man because he would take out melons for sure and do other things that he did not know. We rolled our great melons into an alley so that no one would take them. One by one, we lifted them and threw them at our feet to break them because that is just how melons break open.

They sprayed juice down the alley and out into the streets, but no one seemed to notice. Inside of our last melon we found a key. Then we were hungry. We could not eat the melons because they were for the maggots and all full of poison us instead I took out my unopened bread bowl. Frank said, “wait, now” in a steady voice and then the bread bowl as open. I ate first, then he ate the rest and we were both happy.

Frank said that he was full and so I put him in my shirt pocket so that he could rest. I picked up the key from the ground and started back to where the melon salesman was, but when I got to his stand, he wasn’t there but instead his wife was there. I knew it was his wife because she told me she was the wife of the melon salesman. I asked her where he was but all she could say was that she was the wife of the melon salesman and she was handing out melons to everyone. 

Since she obviously could not help me out with directions right now, I decided that I should probably find out where the key went by myself with Frank in my pocket. I held the key out in front of me so that way I could try it out on everything but the people in the street around me seemed to be annoyed with the way I was handling this key. I could tell because I saw the follower man and he seemed quite upset and was coming toward me. I taped the key to my chest so that I could still try it out on everything but I was not flailing it around obnoxiously and I could move fast. 

To try the key I would shove my tummy onto things that way the key could see if it wanted to go or not. I tried it on many things: the door to apartments in Florence, a dehydrated dog in the road, the backdoor to casinos in Germany, but to no avail. The key simply would not go into anything. I decided that I should probably inspect the key to make sure it was really a key so I untapped it from my chest and brought it close to my eyes and when I did, the key jumped up and went into my eye and shoved its way into the black circle which opened up huge until the key had gone so far, that I could no longer see it as it had disappeared into the black void.

The key had opened up a place that I never thought to look, or maybe just did not want to and so now I had to explore it. I went into the portal and was now floating aimlessly in my pupil. I knew that here, I was at least safe from the man. After three hours I came across my gooey grey brain and decided to cling onto it and rest a while. I grabbed a strand from my cerebral cortex but when I touched it, it brought me to a hallway where I keep my memories. I could see all the memories which made me. I saw my birthdays and my school mates, I saw my grandfather crying in a crippled ball of defeat at the funeral of my grandmother, I saw my first pet and I saw fish swirling dead in the toilet. I decided that I did not like it here and I decided that I needed to leave.

Leaving turned out to be harder than I thought, because the farther down the hallway I went, the longer it seemed to be. However, it might have not been as long as I thought and was just hard to grapple with because the deeper we went, the harder the memories were to pass. The hardest, I think, was the one where I watched my dazed and drunken dad get smaller as my mom dragged me away from him and out of the house for the final time. 

I seemed to never reach the end of the hallway, but this was not a huge problem, because there was a huge hole on the floor which I quickly fell into. The hole was not so deep and at the bottom was the entrance to a cave. The cave was a typical cave made of granite. It was cold on my feet because I had lost my shoes and it was cold on my arms and I was only wearing shorts. 

The cave was as short as the hole and so at the end I saw my nose. I did not want to go in it, but it seemed to be my only option. My nose was as short as the cave and so I quickly fell out and was back on the street in Florence. I walked to Portugal and the walk was as short as the trip in my nose and in Portugal all the birds had gathered in the city square to celebrate the birth of a new evolution in the bird kingdom. I felt like I should not be here at this bird party because I was, actually, not a bird. 

So I snuck around the city square and headed towards the Portugal beach where I laid in the sand and buried my entire body. This is where I had to rest because I had had a very long day and my energy was at 0. Frank came out of my pocket and circled around in my hair until he too fell asleep. We laid here for at least three days and when I woke up I was very dehydrated and had to use the bathroom very bad.

What woke me was the stomping of children feet above the sand. Frank and I dug our way out of our temporary tomb and indeed a child had been stomping where we were. Except it wasn’t a human child it was a tiger baby and the claws made puncture wounds in the sand and the sand cried but did nothing. We said, “Tiger baby why do you stomp?” And the tiger baby let out a pathetic roar that sounded like nails scraping on wood and he said he wanted to wake us up or kill us for good, whichever happened first would be fine with him. 

I gave him a pat on the head but he was very dirty and his fur was sticky because his tiger baby brother had urinated on his head when they were playing and he had not yet been cleaned. That reminded me that I too had to pee and so I jumped into the ocean and released myself. My clothes had disintegrated in the salt water and Frank’s puppy dog fur got heavy with water and it was hard for him to swim. I held him so he would not drown, but he was so heavy that we both sunk down into the sea. 

We grew gills quickly and so we had no problem breathing there, but sometimes the salt would build up and cake our lungs and we had to cough it out. Down in the sea we walked on the ocean floor and kicked up sand as we went. The sand was happy to move because the grains usually moved very slowly, so we were helping them to move. 

It took us a little while, but we eventually made it to the other side of the sea and when we came upon shallower water, a fishing boat was rocking violently in the waves above us and all of the fishing hooks had lost the bait pierced through them. We swam up to the top of the water and we saw the fisherman flopping around trying to keep his balance in the angry waves. He told us in English that there was a huge storm and he was going to capsize and drown. He as the follow man, but we did not want him to do that so we told him to come with us and be underwater. He tried to refuse but we grabbed him and forced him under the waves with us where he struggled at first but became very calm. We had saved him from capsizing! 

He decided to go his own way and so we told him bye and we continued our journey without him. We made it to the beaches of Florida and we dried off with towels that were lying in the sand. The beach was crowded and everyone was running around in comical panic. It turned out that the United States government no longer wanted to take care of Florida and the people who retired there and they were planning on getting rid of Florida to make it an island, like Australia. 

The Floridians were worried about this and in their panic, the border between Alabama and Florida began to split. The water from the ocean zoomed in the fill the gap and Florida began to drift away. This was a problem for Frank and I because we were so close to being home but now we were farther away from home again. 

Frank said that he was very tired of searching for home and I agreed with him because I was tired too. There was nothing particularly special about our home anyway, and we did not truly miss the people and furniture that lived there, or at least that is how it seemed, we were actually just tired of missing and tired of moving. We decided that we were going to make a new home so we flew up into the clouds and landed on a big nimbus cloud that was overshadowing our old home. We began to mold it and build it up like a sand castle, but clouds. 

We were not very good architects so the house did not look like a house but instead like a lump with two holes. Frank and I each got into a cloud hole and that was our new home. We would travel with the lazy cloud and drink the water from the precipitation and we would dance and stomp on it to make thunder and lightning as it traveled around the world forever. We could pee off the cloud and watch it fall like rain and people would not even know the difference.

Our neighbor clouds would never stay our neighbors because we would always be moving and never would we have to be attached to anyone or anything but our cloud and the things we could make on it.  This was our new home and here we were happy.