My childhood home was like most other, it had sturdy walls to keep away the weather, and a roof that would keep out the birds. It was speckled with windows and crowned with a rather fine chimney that led rather disappointingly to an electric fireplace. The front and the back had small gardens each, Mother kept a herb garden. Most importantly it had a front door, which I’m sure you will agree is a useful piece of design. So much more convenient than climbing in and out of those little top windows. A good door can keep a lot of things out, curious onlookers and light fingered folk or cold callers and sales reps peddling their latest new gadget and religion. A good solid door can also keep things in, and that is a far more useful purpose. Father had fitted the locks himself with the self satisfied drill use that all fathers seemed to posses, nodding and admiring his own work. Sister had added some bolts of her own, she always was cautious, always anxious of slipping. Family security is nothing to turn your nose at. Brother didn’t mind the door so terribly and was content to spin in circles until he made himself sick. He was young and the reality of life had yet to fully descend upon him. The door was the most communal thing in the whole house, it was something we all took care in. My addition had been the small mirror, you would be surprised by how many bad decisions can be avoided if you just have a quiet word with yourself. Mother had placed a sign.
as far as anyone knows,
we are a nice, normal family.’
Like most signs it was read and it was read frequently. The whole family had to look at it every time we left home. Unlike most signs however, we took notice of it. Guests found it amusing, a quirk of ours. They would assure us they understood and it would fit right in with them at their home. They didn’t understand. This wasn’t some amusing keepsake to smile at as we left the house, nor was it a talking point to be had over tea and biscuits. It was our mantra. The sign was something we repeated to ourselves, in its various iterations, dozens of times a day. It was how we talked each other down from the ledge, a precipice that some of us danced upon more than others, it was how we endured contact with the outside world. Those words stopped us from taking a step that would snowball into something we could never take back. Not even if we wanted to. It was our lifeline and our warning. So we would smile and laugh at it with company, but alone we repeated it. We wrapped ourselves in it, whispered it inwardly, hushed away the fears. To keep us safe from the world, to keep the world safe from us.