Homecoming

This happened just three days ago, when I returned home for New Year’s.

“Mum, I’m home!” I called out when I arrived.

“Um, who are you?” came the reply.

“What are you saying? It’s me.”

My mother looked at me as though I were a complete stranger. Then my older brother came out, and I thought he’d recognise me, but then he went, “Huh, what’s going on?”

I showed them my driver’s license but they just looked at me suspiciously. They had no idea who I was. Why? What was going on? We weren’t getting anywhere, so I took a step back and racked my brain while crying.

It was New Year’s, so all the hotels were full. Not that there were any nearby anyway. I decided to visit a friend from elementary school who lived nearby. My friend wasn’t there, but her mother was and she thankfully remembered me. I told her what was going on and she was shocked.

“At any rate, it’s late so I’ll go back with you tomorrow,” she said. That night I was both relieved and confused and had trouble sleeping.

When I woke up the next morning, my friend’s mother wasn’t around. I figured she went over to my mother’s house before me, so I went as well. I approached the house nervously, and my friend’s mother wasn’t there, but mine was.

“What on earth are you doing?” she screamed as she looked at me.

“Huh…?”

“You said you’d be here yesterday! We waited all night for you worried sick!”

“Huh? Huh? But I came yesterday and…”

“I was here all day, nobody came.”

My mind went blank. I felt like I was about to be the victim of a massive prank and I couldn’t think.

“So what were you doing yesterday?” my mother continued.

“Huh, oh, I went and stayed at my friend’s house.”

“Hey. You stop that,” she said upon hearing my friend’s name.

“Huh?”

“That house burnt down the year before last. There’s no way you could have stayed there.”

I couldn’t believe it. I had stayed there the night before. I saw my friend’s mother…

“And her mother died in that fire,” my own continued.

I’m currently writing this from my mother’s house. I still can’t believe it. I went over to the house to see again and the entire place was burnt down. Of course, my friend’s mother wasn’t there either.

When I got home, I pulled out my graduation album and made a note of my friend’s phone number. I decided to give her a call, but just as I expected, there was no response.

It turned out that her parents got divorced a while back and then her father got into debt and killed himself. But what was even more shocking was that there were no records of their graves or funerals or anything. It’s like the entire family just disappeared. Like they never existed.

And amongst all that, I wonder why her mother decided to show herself to me…?

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