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Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

“Home Away from Home” and “Absent Character” Anonymous Student

Home Away From Home Assignment


After a long day at the office I go to an alleyway next to an abandoned building. I have no idea what draws me there, but without fail for two years I go and stand against the wall of this decrepit abandoned building in a busy section of the city. It feels like I’ve entered another world. It sits between a small, abandoned apartment building and a small travel agency. I’ll reflect and play on my phone.At first I was alone, however there seem to be two people ever present in the alleyway, staring downwards and standing like statues. It’s quite strange, I’ve tried to talk to them, only eliciting stares as a response. It disturbs me but I’ve begun to accept their presence, even if it prevents me from listening to my music and even though my chair I set here was quickly stolen.

Despite this and my sense of unease I continue to find myself here, drawn to this alley like a magnet. The alleyway is dark and thin, stretching barely wide enough for one person to stand between the two quiet buildings. Vines and moss grow on the side of the abandoned building, and the chipped paint of the travel agency almost looks like a painting. Sometimes I’ll stare at it, trying to decipher what it looks like. The ambience is solemn yet comforting. A dim, yellow light from the street shines in, slightly illuminating the alley. At the end of the alley is a brick fence, separating it from a large office building. 

It was December, as snow was falling delicately from the sky that one of the people spoke for the first time. It caught me off guard, because for four months neither of them said a word. 

However, the rugged man who looked to be in his mid forties turned his head to face me and asked, “Who are you?” 

I was astonished when he asked. Collecting my thoughts for a second, I felt confused. What does he mean? Why is he asking me this question? What right does he have to ask me as if he’s found me in his own home with such a question? 

After a noticeable pause, I replied back, “Who are you?”

He paused and looked downwards, replying forlornly, “I don’t know.”

Nothing else was said and after about 20 minutes of uncomfortable silence I left.

The next morning came and I was determined not to go back to that place. I felt ridiculous. Why did I even go there anyway? I walked to the train station and went to work. The whole day, I found myself deep in thought. My boss happened to pass by my cubicle and interrupted my thoughts.

“We’re here to work, not sleep,” he said.

“Yes sir,” I begrudgingly replied.

I got my jacket from the cubby and began my walk to the train station. Getting off the train, I was lost in thought, about nothing important in particular. I was staring down at the uneven sidewalk and turned a sharp right. My head jerked upwards and I peered in confusion and frustration into the very same alleyway I had promised to never return to. How did I let myself wander here again? I was irritated.

I said to myself in my head, ‘Alright, I’m not going to stay here, I’m going to head home.”  However, I did not move. Every time I went to leave it was like some kind of magnetic force was pulling me back to stay. I ran my hand along the soft moss of the abandoned building. Before I realized it, 30 minutes had passed and one of the men walked nonchalantly into the alleyway. He sat down and stretched his right leg out, his foot touching the wall of the travel agency. I tried to ignore him, until the other man arrived and threw his back against the wall, standing very close to me. I was extremely uncomfortable, he coughed loudly and turned his head away from me as I looked forward in disgust.  

“What a crappy alley,” he scoffed, while looking up into the sky. 

“Yeah…” the sitting man turned and said.

I said nothing, I stared forwards blankly.

That’s when the man asked me the same question again, “who are you?”

I was frustrated, why does he care so much? Who is he? Things I wanted to ask him, but I could feel my courage dissipating as my words began to float to my mouth. 

“Nobody,” I muttered.

He gave a brief chuckle, and looked down towards the cracked pavement, “I guess I’m nobody too.”

The silence continued for another 15 minutes, I began to fidget awkwardly with my fingers, until the man began talking again.

“This alley, doesn’t it just draw you here? I have no reason why, but I can’t help coming here every evening,” he asked.

The other man responded, “It’s like a second home to me, well it would be if I had a first home.”

How depressing. The two men turned to me as if they were expecting something. After minutes of silence I couldn’t bear the feeling of their eyes pointed at me like lasers. 

“I guess I just like it here,” I answered.


Absent Character Assignment


“It’s just terrible what happened to Jaime!” the mother cried.

The father chimed in, “it’s a damn outrage, I can’t believe this!” I was confused and terrified at the same time. I was a friend of Brandon’s and I was at his parents’ house. At first, everything was quite pleasant when I arrived. However, I made the mistake of bringing up family, particularly Brandon’s older brother Jaime. So there I sat in my seat, mystified at the spectacle taking place before me.

He must’ve died or something? I remember meeting him not too long ago though. With how upset Brandon’s mom and dad are,  something terrible must’ve happened. I turned to look at Brandon and on his face was a look of disappointment. Something felt strange to me, they kept going on and on without even acknowledging I’m in the room. I suppose that would make sense if they’re grieving their son’s death, but what’s even stranger is how non-specific they are about what has happened to this man.

I was so tempted to ask Brandon what had happened to Jaime, but the pained voices of his mother and father kept me silent. I looked around awkwardly at my surroundings. Family pictures, the T.V, the big ornate clock hung on the wall, and the dark coffee table with an overabundance of coasters. Brandon’s parents finally calmed down, and his mother in a bashful manner, walked into her room and shut the door. His father came back into the living room from the kitchen with two cups in his hand.

“Do you want tea boys?” he asked with an enthusiastic grin on his face.

We drank the tea and sat in silence, until an unbearable curiosity filled every chasm of my brain.

 I turned to Brandon’s father on the couch and asked, “So what was Jaime like?”

“He’s a bright boy! Hardworking and helpful! Michelle and I are so proud of him?” he responded.

I felt a tinge of hesitation in the back of my head, but given his father’s happy demeanor I thought now would be a better time to ask.

“So, what happened to Jaime?” I inquired.

“Those bastards!” he started, “they’ve called him into work three days in a row on his days off! It was supposed to be family movie night!”

I was so taken aback that I fell backwards into the house.

“So, he’s not… dead?” I reluctantly asked.

“What? No!” his father answered, amused.

I sighed and could feel my whole body relax. “This is one weird family,” I thought to myself.

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