Her parent’s house was typical of those that stretched down to the corner on both sides of the patched street – a detached, wood-frame structure with two floors plus a basement. The houses were old enough now some were being bought by brave, young professionals and “gentrified”. The hard wood floors, the carved balusters on the staircase, and eight-inch crown moldings were from a bygone age of craftsmanship. To Freyja they all looked worn and tired.
But the street still had pride. Less trash spilled from overflowing cans and crow-torn garbage bags than on any of the other streets she’d walked through on the way from the SkyTrain station. The challenge of the three-week strike by civic sanitation workers had so far been met.
The forecast said snow in the afternoon and on cue clouds had moved in and random flakes now began to fall. Freyja’s frozen fingers struggled with the rusty gate latch. “Shit.” She stepped back, gave it a kick and staggered as her heavy backpack shifted. The gate swung open and stayed there, hanging on the post by a loose bottom hinge. She walked into the tiny yard and with both hands repositioned the gate closed.
From the top of the eight-stair stoop she surveyed the neighborhood. Everything looked more run down and smaller. The first half of the observation was true, the neighborhood definitely was sliding into decay but things weren’t smaller, she was just bigger. And better.
Lights flickered to life and the late afternoon street became a duotone of mauve, grey and black. Snow streaked with sleet flashed across the neon halos.
The small garden in the cramped front yard hadn’t been groomed for winter. Tomato plants, black and rotting, and red racers, their withered stalks clinging to poles, trembling, and untidy. Braced in the corner between the house and the drooping front stairs, the one adornment, an ancient hydrangea, it’s faded heads rustling in the icy wind like loose change in the bottom of a big purse.
Freyja pulled her palm-size digital camera from the pocket of her pea coat. The photo she took depicted neglect and despair.
Freyja usually hated coming home. Today it felt different. Her finger hovered over the bell. She jabbed it and prepared for the volcano of emotion about to erupt.
“Tesorino!” Arms flew around her neck. “Buon compleanno.” Noisy kisses found both cheeks. “You’re wet, Freyja. Come in, come in.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish