The trip to the old house only took twenty minutes that day. Sasha felt the comfort of being back in a familiar place washing over her when she saw the pink-flowered bougainvillea tree her mother loved. It was a comfort she had taken for granted before. Her father parked the car in front of the house. The gates leading to the garage were partly open.

Sasha followed her father inside, but trailed behind when she saw the small garden separating the two garage areas of the house. The small plants that used to cover the red soil had patches here and there from being moved in pots to the rented house. The red palm tree was still there, accompanying the bougainvillea; she made a note to herself to ask if they’re going to be moved later. Her father was conversing with two men — workers — near the garden by the window; she listened in for a while out of curiosity but got bored within a minute. She slipped away to explore the house.

The front door was ajar. She stepped inside, finding the guest area nearly empty. All furniture had already been moved to the rented house, except for a desk that used to have her favorite books on top of it. She traced the surface of the desk, disrupting a layer of dust that had formed. Her fingers stayed while she ran a comparison in her head; there used to be her mother’s sewing machine near the door at the corner that led to her old room, and a wooden bench and a short table near the big windows. She loved reading there, as sunlight poured inside generously in the afternoons.

She absentmindedly wiped her dusty fingers on her jeans as she peered into the room to her left. It had been her grandparents’ bedroom; now only the disassembled bedframes were there. The empty state of the room was odd for her, as it was crowded with cupboards while it was in use.

She moved on to the dining area, which was connected to the guest area with a gap that looked like an hourglass’ waist. She recalled her father’s story about how the house used to be two different houses, which explained the unusual layout and the letters with the previous resident’s name addressed to Number Four that would sometimes arrive. The area was a lot more spacious with the huge dining table, utensils cabinet, TV stand, and refrigerator already moved. The only thing left was the sink attached to the outside wall of the bathroom in a corner on her far left. She tried turning on the bathroom lights that was beside the sink, but it stayed dark so she entered the backroom on the opposite side instead. The kitchen-laundry hybrid area was still cluttered with some appliances that had not been moved. She circled the room, memories of her first time cooking and the times she and her sister helped with the laundry on holidays tickling her mind.

She went into her parents’ bedroom next. The bedframes were still there; hollow without the various boxes that used to be stored underneath the mattress. It would be more interesting had the sunlight reached more corners of the room; the way it was, she could only see faint outlines of the floor tiles. She walked to the door connecting the bedroom to her old room, tracing the wall that used to have nearly ceiling-high cupboards against it. Sunlight bathed her old bedroom in the absence of curtains. It was empty; even the door that led to the guest area was gone. The scribbles she made a long time ago was still there — the proof that she had loved to draw since her early years.

She leaned against the wall, pressing her palms onto the warm white-painted surface, and sighed. She was missing the house already.


Her father’s voice rang from outside. She took a deep breath, taking in her old room one last time, and walked to the front door. The desk wasn’t there anymore; her father and the two men must have moved it into the car.

“Let’s go,” her father said.

As the car sped away, her eyes stayed on the bougainvillea tree.

Originally published at on October 19, 2017.