A house isn't always a home.
If you were to ask Seth where his home was, his reply was straightforward: he had none. Oh, he lived in a house, yes, but that place was no home. It was merely a wooden construction, exuding none of the warmth and safety that homes were meant to.
I think I understood that more than anyone. It was that understanding that let me safely disagree with him.
"You're wrong. You have a home."
"What home?" he'd say with a bitter chuckle, because he had not seen it yet. But I knew.
We were seven. Carefree, immature, and the best of friends.
"Lu, can I come over after school?" he'd asked once, although on reflection it was more of a plea.
"Sure!" I'd never turn down an opportunity to play with my friend.
That day we'd gone to my house, and we giggled and played and jumped around and we even ate some cookies. Seth had the fattest smile on his face until he left.
Four or so years had passed, and some of my childish naivety had faded away. Suddenly I was noticing how bitterly Seth spoke of his household.
"They always argue," he'd told me once, when we were doing homework in my room. "Mom's always screamin' at me and my brother, then Dad'll start screamin' at Mom, and she'll scream back, and the house shakes so much, I always think it'll fall over."
I didn't reply; I didn't know how to. But I think the fact that he was here, and I was here too, was enough.
It was our junior year, and I'd been reading a book on my bed when he sent me a text.
they found drugs in davids room. moms searchin my room and i think dad and david are fighting
Shit. His brother had been doing drugs? It took only a few moments before I came up with a plan.
don't go anywhere.
I grabbed my parents' car keys, ignoring their queries as I ran out the house, jumped into the car and sped down the street.
It only took a few minutes to get to his house. It was easy to hear the heated arguments inside that building. I pressed on the doorbell, and the ringing sound silenced the household.
A woman opened the door, her face caked in make-up in an effort to disguise her age.
"Oh, Lucinda," Seth's mom had said, her red plastered lips curved into a frown. "What do you want?"
"I'm so sorry to bother you, Mrs. Parker! But we have a debate in thirteen minutes, and me and Seth gotta go right now!"
Her eyes narrowed to match her frown. "Fine." She turned to the stairs behind her. "Seth, get down here now!"
He'd slowly trudged down the stairs until he saw me. "Lu?"
"Seth, come on! We need to get to that debate!" I knew he'd take the hint.
He did. "Shit, that's now?" He grabbed my hand and ran out of the house, slamming the door behind him with his other hand.
We got into the car and left. He didn't say anything for a minute or so, not even a 'thank you'. But that was fine. He didn't have to say anything for me to know he was thankful.
"Where are we going?" he'd asked after a while.
"We're going home."
Seth may not have lived with us, but his heart was here, in our house.
And home is where the heart is.