Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 10
Spring, 2013
Featured painting, ©2012 by Andrew Abbott : you might like this.

New Works

Charlotte Lenox


Dear [insert your worthless name here],

My home does not belong to you, and it never will. You might have forked over the money for it while I watched, staring murder into your face, but I'll say it again and again until your eyes bleed tears. You don't belong in this house. You did not grow up here. You do not have a history here. You have not woken up in the middle of the night, crying, to be soothed back asleep by my home's surrounding strength. You have not huddled inside of it, trusting it to withstand the Taku winds tearing at the frame and ripping off scatters of shingles. You have not spent your last day there before the move, saying "Goodbye" and "I'm sorry" to the only friend you had.
I was only a penniless, powerless teenager. Leaving home--which I barely even recognize now, after what you've done to it--wasn't my decision to make. No matter what you paid for it, I ultimately paid, and am still paying, the higher price.
You've changed my home almost beyond recognition.
Once, there was a glacial boulder in the front yard affectionately dubbed the "Thousand-Dollar Rock." During Alaskan summers, I clambered up its mossy, sloping back to survey the yard's ragged but profuse growth. During harsh Alaskan winters, I sledded down its snow-covered spine, laughing. My father once told me that veins of gold webbed the ground underneath it. When money forced our hand, I considered digging for that gold, desperately hoping that fantasy had become reality.
Once, there was a fluorescent orange buoy swing tied from a strong hemlock branch. Back and forth and around I swung, arms stretched out in raven's flight. However much I wanted to escape my health and other problems, I always wanted to come back home. I hated the thought of leaving, of letting my home fall into the filthy, rapacious hands of someone like you.
Once, there was a mailbox, built and painted like a smaller version of the house. It stood at the top of the driveway nestled inside the centuries-old evergreens. Time and rain had weathered it down to grey panels and flaking paint, but still it held up, even under deadweight snow. It sheltered my connection to the outside world from this landlocked place full of echoes.
Once, there was a free-standing fireplace that beat as the heart of my home. Its mirrored pipe soared two stories up and through the roof. Crackling, rumbling heat filled the expansive room on aurora-stained evenings as we wrapped ourselves in blankets, waiting for spring's brightness to return.
You dynamited the Thousand-Dollar Rock out of existence, the shards of its bones smothered by your precious, moronic lawn. You mowed down all of the hoary old conifers, along with the one bearing my buoy swing. You ripped up and threw out the mailbox, shoved it into your stinking garbage full of diapers and rotting leftovers. This very letter is forced to sit in your stupid suburban-white mailbox on the wrong side of the driveway. And then the fireplace; you yanked it free of its silver artery, out of the house, and to the dump.
Have you also pulled out the sturdy red carpets for cheap, ill-fitting laminate? Knocked down any walls? Destroyed the blasphemous bar? Hacked apart more trees and memories in the backyard because their sticky remains littered your damnable lawn? Every night, I hear the soul of my house screaming. Has it died, yet? Am I already too late?
These things meant everything to me, but nothing to you. When you buy someone else's house, do you ever spare attention for the memories left behind, the ones you're going to destroy? No one ever does. It's always all about you, you, you, and the new memories your self-absorbed, self-important family makes overtop of mine, crushing me under their weight. Perhaps your children will remember football games on that idiotic lawn, or sledding down the flattened, recently-paved driveway (here's to hoping your minivan careers down its ice-caked surface and into the boat umbrella you buzz-sawed our shed to park), or barbecues on the deck I was slaved to paint and stain just for you. As soon as you buy a home, you feel entitled to do whatever you want to it, don't you?
You disgust me. Without even realizing it, you and others like you have committed a crime that no one can make you pay for, a crime whose painful consequences I and others like me have to suffer throughout our lives.
But, someday, I think you'll understand when your family moves out and another moves in to tear up that god-awful lawn.

[Insert not a very sincere closing here],

Charlotte Lenox was born and raised in Alaska. Currently, she lives in Philadelphia and works as an associate editor for Per Contra: An International Journal of the Arts, Literature, and Ideas.