Writing Prompt: As long as you are inside your house, time doesn’t pass in the outside world. As long as you are in the outside world, time doesn’t pass in your house. (source)
It had been three months before she returned to the outside world. She checked her her pocketbook which sat on the counter besides the front door, and flipped to the latest entry. “You left the party to ‘check on Philip’ everybody knows why you really left, but they’ll play along with you anyways.” She placed her hand on the doorknob, closed her eyes and filled her lungs with air.
She forced herself to remember what had happened, the gap between her exit and now had been filled with books and movies, with a few stories of her own she had created herself, but never written more than a page or two before she returned to the couch to watch another Harry Potter movie for the thousandth time. She liked staying indoor and she loved her house.
The house had been her grandmother’s, it had been a place that no matter how much she and the outside world changed it had remained the same. The sleepy country town became consumed with the urban sprawl. The farmers cut their last harvest of corn and planted a new crop of cement and rebar. The old water tower dismantlement and in its place a beaming new twelve floor building. Her childhood school razed and replaced with a brand new shopping mall. The town had moved on, and yet her grandmother refused to.
Stephanie would spend her summers at the house, she would swing on the tire swing in the day, at night she’d read by the fireplace with Philip in her lap. When she felt adventurous she’d play in the farmer’s field just down the road until the farmer had noticed and chased her off. She even had her first kiss on the porch swing, to Anthony, the son to the farmer who had chased her away many times. She would not see Anthony again when she returned to her grandmother’s the next summer. The crops all had been reaped and in their places sat strange raised lumps of dirt with wooden frames and white pipes sticking through them.
When it was time for her grandmother to move on, the house had been bequeath to Stephanie. “May you enjoy the timeless treasure of the house,” the note read, “and may it comfort you in times of need.”
The house had become a safe haven for her whenever she felt her lungs grow tight and needed a break from it all. Awkward dates, parties with too many people she didn’t know, a hard day at work, no matter what it was she knew she could always come home and take as much time as she needed before returning to the outside world. She didn’t have to work about food, the pantry and fridge were always well stocked. She’d return home, watch a movie or two, sleep through the night, write in her journal. She’d stay as long as she needed before she returned back to the outside world, sometimes it was minutes, other times it was years. Once she felt the time was right she’d return to the restaurant, bar, movie, theater, office, or wherever she was last, and they’d always ask her the same question, “How’s Phillip?”
She made she to keep her pocketbook with her at all times, and jot down the last thing that happened before she left. A habit she had learned after she had returned to a meeting that had go awry. Her boss had blown up at a client and she had felt the same tight sensation within her chest, she had asked to leave, and when she returned four months later her boss was still yelling at the client. Her boss had blown up at her that evening for going home and changing clothes. She never wanted that to happen again so she bought a little magenta pocketbook that she kept notes of what she had worn the day she had left, and later filled it with details of the moments before leaving. She returned home that night and didn’t leave for a whole year.
This time she had returned home because the party had grown too big, too many people she didn’t know. It was supposed to be a friend’s surprise party, but Stephanie had been the one most surprised with the shear number of new faces. The crowd had grown overwhelming, so she told her friend that she had to go check on Philip. And so she left.
Stephanie exhaled and opened her eyes, a soft soothing sensation of delicate fur rubbed against her feet. She leaned down and gave Philip a nice pet behind his ears, the cat purred. “I’ll be back,” she said and opened the door, and returned to the party.