The garden was nowhere near as overgrown as I was expecting it to be. It still wasn’t as well kept as when mom was taking care of it, but it was under control. I was really surprised at the state of the place. Eight years is a long time for a house to remain unoccupied, but it looked taken care of, no sign of age whatsoever. I hesitated on the doorstep, looking down at the keys I held so tightly. As if they could disappear any second. As if this was just another dream. But if it was one, I didn’t want to wake from it. I took a deep breath and unlocked the door.
The inside followed the trend of the outside. It wasn’t dusty like I expected it to be. As I walked across the threshold, I turned to the living room, seeing the furniture covered in sheets. The window blinds closed, the curtains drawn. I closed the door behind me, and cautiously went in. The floor creaked ever so slightly as I walked through the hall. It took me about two minutes to find the remote for the blinds, and to my surprise the batteries in it were still charged, the blinds swiftly rising to let sunlight in. There were many cabinets here, full of trinkets and memorabilia. I can guarantee the nostalgia from seeing all of those hit me hard. The memories of staying over at my grandmas’ house, laying on a pile of blankets and pillows on the floor, as we watched old shows and movies.
I made my way to the fireplace. The last picture I ever took with mom sat atop it. Ten year old me, with long hair, holding tightly onto mom as we stood in front of the big tree in the backyard. She fell ill two weeks later. I picked the framed photo up, wiping it clean, before I wiped my tears away. I knew most trans people scoffed at old pictures of themselves, wanted them burned and destroyed. But not me. Not from that time. In all the framed pictures I could see in the house, I could be read as a young girl. Maybe a tomboy, but still a girl. And most importantly, mom was in them too. I opened the cabinet nearest to me, knowing full well an entire album sat within. With it in hand, I moved to the couch, pulling off the sheet in one swift motion before sitting down. The first picture was of course mom holding me in her arms. She looked so proud, even if she looked like a mess from the delivery, she looked so full of happiness and pride and joy while she held newborn me in her arms. There was a caption below it. ‘You hurt like hell to bring into this world, but seeing you grow made it all worth it.’ It was dated two weeks before her passing.
All the pictures were like that. Each one captioned and dated shortly before she passed. Each one a message, wishing me well, reminding me to be kind and gentle, to not take shit. Quick anecdotes related to each picture. Her final words to me. I never got to say goodbye, but through the album I held in my hand, she did. I closed it, gently set it down on the coffee table, and got up. There wasn’t much to check in the kitchen. The dining room was well kept just as the rest of the house. A quick peek in the basement let me know that all of my grandmas’ stuff was stored properly and safely. A flight of creaky stairs took me to the upper floor, and hesitantly I walked towards a door. A door with a kitten sticker on it, my deadname written there. The good news is, it wasn't written with a permanent marker, and the sticker was effectively a whiteboard. A quick swipe later, the name was gone, and with the marker hung nearby, I wrote my name there instead. Like it should have been eight years ago. Like it could have been eight years ago.
I pushed the door open. The room was exactly as I remembered it. My army of plushies on my bed. The wall paint looking like a forest full of pokemon. My desk, completely covered in loose papers, scribbles from back then. I approached it and took one from the top of the stack, and snorted. Miss Hellfire. I really had no right to give Leonard shit for his wolfboy fursona.
Sitting down on the bed, I pulled a bunch of my plushies into a hug, laying down quickly right afterwards. With a sigh and a smile, I said the one thing I felt was appropriate to say at that moment.
“Mom. I’m home.”