A set of fingerprints trailed down the car window, still fresh, but quickly blending with the rest of the fingerprints. I leaned against the door to inspect them, closely counting each one, my breath fogging up the window pane. Standing outside, my parents were debating about whether or not to put the mattress in the front of the car. Their yelling hurt my ears, and it took too much effort to catch the next line of their heated discussion. I didn’t really care, so I tilted my head to get the last good view of the house in which I had been living in for seven years. Outside, the sky was glowing a faint fuchsia and honey, hinting the beginning of another sunset. I smiled. I saw the sunset everyday of my life. It was a routine, a reaction, like when you tap the spot just below your kneecap and your leg kicks out. At 6:00 p.m., I would involuntarily stare at the sky with a smile on my face. However, today was the last day I would ever see the sunset here because the dreaded date had finally come: March 8, 2006, the day I said goodbye to everything.
Apparently, we were moving to some rural town inhabited by two things: hills, and gophers, while the human population consisted of a little more than zero. Just thinking of it made me imagine what would happen if we all turned into Neanderthals. A jolt of realization shuddered through me. I wasn’t just leaving my life. I was saying goodbye to civilization. I sighed nervously, and told myself that I was just hallucinating and that I was exaggerating.
After inhaling the scent of fresh mowed lawns for the last time, I felt a little better. Drinking in the scent reminded me of when I was going to kindergarten. I was tugging on a loose thread from my vivaciously pink sweater while my dad was exclaiming: “Get your game face on!” I smiled nervously feeling that I would barf up the milk that I just drank. “Aww…she doesn’t even know what that means!” My mom said as she stepped into the car. “Come on. We’re going to be late for the first day of kindergarten!” The scent of freshly mowed lawns had also been the last thing I smelled before I climbed into my mom’s black Nissan on that long ago morning.
The sky was tinted with lavender when we pulled out of the driveway. “This is the last time we are ever going to do this.” I thought to myself sorrowfully. I tried to make it memorable by staring at each detail, absorbing everything I could. “The cement is a cool gray.” I murmured quietly. “The two trees have magnificent white blooms.” I looked down. My goldfish sat in my lap; its blue and purple scales rippled as it swam around excitedly, staring at all the new wonders. What a lucky fish. It would never have to move, never have to experience the painful feeling of nostalgia. All it would remember was its tank. Sighing, I turned my head to face the window once again. Now, the sky was shimmering in a magnificent red, the clouds highlighted at the edges, as if it was flushing in pride or in embarrassment. It was hard to tell. The trees and the grass were dancing by as bitterness welled up in my throat. “How can you be dancing when I am so sad? Are you happy that I am leaving? Are you taunting me?” I wanted to scream. I wanted to run back to my house and stay there forever. But I stayed silent, staring at my fish. A couple drops of tears fell onto my pants. Wiping them away, I told myself, “Don’t cry. Everything is going to be okay.” My comforting, however, only brought around a round of fresh tears. Soon, my view became blurry and I started sobbing. “Oh… are you okay?” My mom asked with great concern. “Wh-y-y d-id w-w-we have to m-ove?” I stammered, my words distorted by an occasional hiccup. “Well…it’s for your benefit.” she replied. I nodded, but still continued crying. Everything I knew. My friends, neighbors, my school….They were really gone. Forever.
The sunset was over now and we arrived at our new house. I wanted the sunset back, so I could smile again and realize that even though I was so far away, we were under the same sunset as my old house. But, it was dark and almost impossible to see. My sight was clear again, but I was still hiccupping madly. Hundreds of crickets erupted into song, their harmonious voices overlapping one another. Hmmm… I frowned. I had never heard the crickets’ song before, and it was beautiful beyond imagination, almost like a lullaby. I smiled with my eyes half closed swaying to the music as I climbed up the stairs that led to our new, forbidding house. My father pushed open the wooden door twice our height, and my nose immediately wrinkled at the smell of inoccupation. All our furniture already was placed there the day before, and our steps echoed softly on the marbled tiles. Rough carpet tickled my feet mercilessly as I climbed up another flight of stairs. There was a dim light so we could all see better, but it was still extremely dark. I reached my room, the door next to the medicine cabinet, and sat on my bed. At least my bed was still the same. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, and then changed, weeping all the time. That night, I cried myself to sleep.
Adjusting to my new life was the hardest thing I had ever done. I could never see the sunset I used to love so much, and now we lived in a big, empty house with no character, and with no memories. Everything was so hollow and deprived of life. The only thing I could listen to falling asleep was the crickets’ chirping. Sometimes, it was impossible to fall asleep because I couldn’t hear the constant whoosh of cars which I grew up to ignore. It’s like listening to the grumble of your refrigerator, which you are so used to hearing, and then it suddenly stops. Doesn’t everything seem so silent? I felt so awkward, and out of place, like your first pair of point shoes that just need some breaking in. “That’s it. I just need some breaking in. I’ll feel right at home then.” I would tell myself whenever I was about to cry.
White rice. We ate white rice so many times before because it was easy to cook, and it wasn’t as messy as making dumplings or wontons. It was around a week after moving day. I twirled around my chopsticks with my head on the table, eating them bit by bit, and not bothering to pick up any vegetables. I sighed for the millionth time, not feel hungry a bit. “EAT YOUR FOOD!” My baby brother laughed while screaming at me. How could he laugh at a time like this? I wondered to myself. He probably can’t even remember what our other house looked like. Turning, I faced a wall, and muttered, “I need to use the bathroom.” while blinking back tears. I ran into the bathroom and started crying. I hated this house. I hated my school. Most of all, I hated my life. Why did we have to move? I sniffled, checked myself in the mirror, and went back to choking down dinner grain by grain.
“Oh! Hey, look, it’s a sunset!” My mom called from the living room a month later. No way. I thought to myself, but I rushed to the living room anyway. There really was a sunset. I hadn’t seen one in centuries. I sighed as the dazzling colors danced when the sun slowly sank behind the hills. I smiled, and at that moment, I knew that I was finally starting to break in. Our family just stood there for a while, and when the sky darkened, we went back to doing. My mom resumed taking care of my little brother, my dad continued to check his email, and I went back to doing homework. No one said much, but I know we all felt better than we had in a while.
After that, I slowly started to smile and laugh more. I wouldn’t hide in the bathroom and cry, and finally, the cricket’s song didn’t sound like a funeral march anymore. It sounded more like the ending song to a happy story.
Some time later, we visited the blue cottage I loved so much. Nothing changed, and a wave of nostalgia washed over me. Suddenly, I remembered moving day, how I felt so wretched, and for some reason, I was glad we moved. “Come on. Let’s go.” I said. Just like how I moved my life.