Monday, September 30, 2013

Four Thirteen

A three year old girl arrives at this place
With a mom and a dad and two big sisters
A dog and a cat
And three bedrooms to share.

She feels lucky.

Shiny hardwood floors to slip and dance on
And a beige rug that holds the sunlight and shadows
From the picture window
On magical afternoons.

At 413.

Arborite  kitchen shelves to climb up
To watch her mom make brownie cake and fried chicken.
A hidden cutting board that slides out of the countertop
Just the right height when she sits on the red metal stool
To make a cup of cocoa with her dad.

She feels lucky.

A great big basement with a swing
And open stairs to dangle a fishing line from.
Who knew what her sister might tie to the end of it!
Wooden orange crates on the ping pong table are a Barbie doll village.
And the corner in the back, a private spot for shining sunday school shoes.

At 413.

A ten year old girl grows up in this place
With friends on the street
Classmates at school
And far-away cousins that visit sometimes.

She feels lucky.

Skipping double-dutch in the driveway
Hopscotch on the sidewalk
Naughty games of knock-on-ginger before she’s called in
By her dad’s black whistle
Blown three times.

At 413.
She climbs into her bed
With the heart-shaped wicker headboard
And admires the yellow flowered wallpaper
The door open just a crack so the hallway light
Will give her some connection with her family
Still up watching tv.

She feels lucky.

A teenage girl rebels in this place
When phone calls need to be long and private
She can stretch the cord into the broom closet
And almost close the door.


When she is crying and heartbroken
She can slam and storm
And tear up pictures
Blast the stereo with the maddest songs she can find
Her sisters stay cool
And her parents do too

Even when she screams

413 stays stable


A grown-up girl leaves this place
When she wants to return
To escape
Or mourn
To celebrate
Or to help her old mom and dad

She finds the house standing firm
Waiting patiently for her.

She feels lucky.

With her parents moved away
She sits quietly
In the empty bungalow
With her final farewell thoughts

She knows how lucky she was
To grow up in the bungalow
In the middle of the block
At four thirteen.

Lucky 413.

©Conni Cartlidge, 2013


  1. Awww, Conni, simply beautiful writing. Indeed, four-thirteen and five-0-five housed a lot of love, safety, and cherished memories. And camper trailers. And Chinese chops.Canteloupe and ice cream. And Hallowe'en terror. Above all, enduring and loving friendships. Thank you for sending this chapter. xo

  2. Thanks T! So many memories in those three-bedroom bungalows!