When a House Is Not a Home


December 22, 2022 by The Citron Review

by Jennifer Todhunter


The house was a dilapidated rancher, built in the 1960s or 1970s, I have never been good at estimating things like age or the time it takes to drive somewhere when you’re already late or how long it might take to end a marriage when the love part of it fails, and you had to be careful if you took the front steps in a hurry, if you turned on the washing machine at the same time as the shower, but it had three bedrooms, one for me and my dog, one for my older son who’d almost outgrown the bed I got for free from a friend of mine, and the other for my younger son who mostly slept squished between the dog and I anyway, and it felt like a landing spot, sort of how I thought Armstrong must have felt when he landed on the moon, like, thank god, I’m finally here and that took a lot longer than expected, and we ate most of our meals outside on the back deck regardless of the weather, meals I prepared and put in the freezer when the boys were with their dad so I didn’t have to waste time cutting carrots or trimming pork loins when they were with me, and we’d talk about the moon and its faces and phases and what it means to have the rug pulled out from underneath you, metaphorically, I had to say when my youngest started jacking around with the entry-way runner, and where we wanted to go and what we wanted to be, and I’d always say, life is as young as you make it, when my boys asked how on earth I didn’t know what I wanted to be yet, but then I’d lie in bed and stare up at the glow-in-the-dark stars the family who’d lived there before me or maybe the family who’d lived there before them had affixed to the ceiling in a random array, and I’d wonder what I actually wanted to be besides a mother and an ex-wife and a walker of the backroads in the middle of the moonlit night, and sometimes the way we’d sit squished on the bench out back, bowls on our laps, forks in our mouths, staring up at the sky, sometimes the way the stars on the ceiling seemed to move with the tears in my eyes, sometimes the way the steps out front would stop me from falling when I took them two-by-two because I was late for school or baseball or a sleepover pickup—sometimes it was the rancher that held us together and not the other way around.


Jennifer Todhunter’s work has appeared in Monkeybicycle, The Forge, River Teeth, and elsewhere. Her work has been selected for Best Small Fictions, Best Microfictions and Wigleaf´s Top 50 Very Short Fictions. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Pidgeonholes. Find her at www.foxbane.ca or @JenTod_.





One thought on “When a House Is Not a Home

  1. Michael Peterson says:

    I struggle mightily with abstraction. I suppose that’s because I am somewhat literal in my own writing; Likely, some would say – to a fault. I tire easily if I must use a Geiger-counter to ferret out meaning. That said, I like this piece very much. Nice work. I’ll leave it at that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new issues by email.

%d bloggers like this: