The hearth where my grandmother held me while my parents took one last picture – it’s gone, paved over with smooth tile. “Looks just like wood,” my dad says, rubbing a toe along the floor admiringly.
I sit at the brand-new table and feel the unfamiliar dark wood dig into the backs of my thighs. The whitewashed walls are blank and the house is mute. I strain to hear the comforting tick of the old clock from Claremont, now boxed up and forgotten.
Outside and down the sidewalk, where Tom and I would race on our Razors, I picture the downtown fun zone, nearly unrecognizable since the last visit. The building that once housed the teacups and bumper cars seems blank and muted under its fresh coat of dove-gray paint. The video game arcade is now a nautical museum.
From the remodeled house’s windows (now neatly framed in white), I can see that the tide is high. The sandbars across the channel, where I would construct hamlets and dig muddy tunnels, are under the surface. The water lapping the shore threatens to wipe away old footprints from the day before.
In his new house, alone and far from the sea, Grandpa paces. He passes the frames that once sat on the beach house’s mantel over the fireplace.
My grandmother and I once sat under this mantel, on the hearth. The rough brick rasped against my legs, and my grandmother’s thin arms closed around my belly. I remember, though the hearth is now gone and the next owner will never know. Even after we close the door to this house for the last time, I’ll remember.