This is my home. It has been in my family for generations, dating all the way back to the early 19th century, being passed down from father to son upon the former’s passing. While it has seen many changes and renovations, even being all but destroyed in the wake of natural disasters, it has been rebuilt. The home itself is not what’s important; it’s merely the physical manifestation of my family’s history, of our lineage. Our birthright.
Where once this home contained six rooms, now it holds three. The hardwood floors are not the same as those my grandfather walked upon, those were twisted and warped by floodwaters. Yet these are the nearest approximation to what was: the stained wood, a regal reddish-brown while modern luxuries grace the kitchen and bathrooms, contemporary plumbing and appliances — much of which was installed by my father and then by myself. My family has long sing believed in the importance of education in areas of the tradesman and home repair. Marble counter tops are kept respectfully clean and a gas stove has replaced the old wood-fired one that kept my great-grandfather warm.
Painted portraits of my ancestors hang from the wall above the fireplace in the living room, never something as lavish as a full-length portrait, but instead rather flattering head and shoulder pieces, not dissimilar to the one painted of the great George Washington. The living room holds much of the original furniture, maintained by its inheritors. Leather upholstery adorns many of the seats and first editions of numerous literary works adorn oaken bookshelves.
Yet all of this, I fear, will no longer be passed on. As I enter the later years of my life, I come to realize that I have no son to bequeath this property to, no one to inherit our history. Not only do I remain unwed, I also find myself unable to procure the finances necessary to allow me to stay. Even now I am certain that there will come a knock at any moment informing me that I must vacate.
I am left with no perceivable solutions, although I have tried to address the issues. Each night I still make my way through the hidden doorway found in the downstairs master bedroom. I descend into the hidden basement that remains as large as my family home once was. I make my way to the rooms and I entertain myself with the company of my guests, the women who I so graciously accommodate, whom I feed, bathe and care for. Yet still they persist in bearing only daughters, at least those that bear any children at all.
The medical examinations cataloging my virility are clearly flawed. All men in my family have been more than capable of fathering a son. The fault clearly must lay with the women who I have chosen to host, yet I cannot afford to lose any more. It has become so much harder in recent years to find guests to accommodate, such that I cannot risk dismissing anymore, regardless of the needs of the furniture. If only they provided better leather, but what they offer is so thin, so brittle that it needs constant maintenance, being no better than horse hide. And with that sacrifice also comes the sacrifice of the food that I must feed them. With guests no longer being dismissed and each guest offering fewer and fewer potential inheritors, I am left with no option but to find them other sources of nourishment, all of which comes at greater and greater financial cost.
Thus I am at a loss. My lineage, it seems, shall end with me. Already I can hear the knocking at the door, asking me to vacate the premises, undoubtedly summoned by one of my most recent guests who snuck away into the night not half a day before. I have no doubt that she has told them of my financial hardships and as such they have come to seize my family’s history, to sell it off to the bloodline of another who will never hold it in the same regard I do.
And so, another disaster must befall this house, a disaster borne of gasoline and flame. The guests have all been dismissed and the fire, it quickly spreads, curling the leather, blackening the portraits. And as the heat and golden flames envelop me, I cry. Not in pain, for I have never truly known the sensation, but in despair. Despair that I am the last of my line. Despair as I watch my memories burn around me. This was my home.