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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Unsafe Home

After decades of renting apartments I rented a little house, more of a cabin really, with a lovely one hundred-plus-year old tree spreading its branches over the patch of grass that was my front yard.  I had been wanting a house for so long that it seemed, it felt as if that boxy little rental house was my own:  it had a tiny living room with bath and kitchen areas in the corners, and upstairs under the pitched roof was just enough room for my bed and a small chest of drawers.  I loved my new home, and I set to work clearing out rubbish, cleaning the wood surfaces of it, and so on.  I picked up and hauled away all of the tree branches that lay on the grass, they had not been picked up in years.  I even hand-picked the weeds from the front yard patch of grass that was now mine to care for.


I imagined that I would live there for years, maybe even buy the minuscule property from the owner, maybe buy it by renting-to-own.  Dreams.  Beside the outside door was a deep, wide pit filled with rubbish, a broken bicycle, lots of alcohol bottles, part of a bed frame, scraps of metal, etc.  I wrestled all of the rubbish into my truck and found somewhere to dispose of it.  Then I needed about two truck loads of soil to fill in the pit but dirt for a rental property was not in my meager budget.  I found a construction site with bulldozers plowing dirt this way and that and somehow managed to convince someone to give me a truckload of dirt for free.  When I came back for the second load of dirt that I needed I got some sour looks but they gave me the second load too, with the firm admonishment that this would be the last of what I would get.  It was just enough.  I packed it in around the foundation of the house, then smoothed the soil surface fine and planted grass seed there.  It came up like green velvet.


This was a working class neighborhood, a little rough, so I was not surprised when a young couple came pounding on my door, yelling softly for me to let them come in to hide, "He's going to kill us!"  I let them in and locked the door.  Their story was that they were lovers and her husband had caught them at it; now he would murder them if he found them.  Their panic and cringing bodies were sufficient proof that their story was true.  I put aside fears of being robbed, and looked out of the door (I do not recall any windows in the living room) and I saw no sign of pursuit.  They sat whispering on my two-person sofa trying to decide what to do.  I told them to stay with me for at least fifteen minutes before they left and they did.  I never heard from them again.


I doubt that I even had a month to enjoy my newly tidy little home when I came home from work to find the landlord in his underwear, in my bed.  I objected and told him to leave.  He said it was his house and he was staying with me.  !?!  I said the house was mine while I rented it and I was living here alone.  Then he got angry, he yelled a lot, and he finished by telling me that the rental agreement was cancelled, and I was to get out immediately.  I was afraid of him, clearly it was unsafe for me to be there.  So I left as soon as I could gather my belongings into my truck.  Goodbye sweet dreams of my own home.  As I left the neighbors came out to see what the hullabaloo was all about.  When I told them that I had come home to find the landlord in his underwear, in my bed, they said,  "He's always been crazy.  And after all the work you put into this house, the first time it has ever been cleaned up."


Unsafe Home

animation and image by Annmarie Throckmorton, copyright 2024



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