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When Writers Meet Art

Daniel Arsham, Skirt, 2008

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If Walls Could Talk

Alarie Tennille

“Now you’re the man of the house,” Mom told him.
But Tommy didn’t see how he could learn to be a man
surrounded by pink bedspreads and unicorns. In a small
apartment with Mom and two sisters, guess who got
the sleep sofa. He often dreamed he opened a door and
founda hidden room, passage way, or even a forest.
He buried his head in books, escaping to Hogwarts,
Medieval castles, or outer space. He even started writing
his own stories. The idea of a week at Grandpa’s house grew
more and more exciting. At least Grandpa was a man.
Wouldn’t you know his sisters had to go, too!

“Swings!” squealed the girls, taking off for the backyard.
Tommy joined the grown ups in the kitchen. His aunts
and Grandpa talked about the old days, when Tom Senior
was a kid. “If these walls could talk…” said Grandpa.

Tommy took his empty water glass upstairs. Pressing
his ear against the glass he held against a wall, he listened.
Nothing. “Please, please talk!” he said.

What? He thought he heard a whisper. “This way,” it said.
He felt the wall shift slightly. Looking down, the wall seemed
to be lifting its skirt. Even the stupid house was a girl!
He hesitated. “I have to crawl under a dress?” he asked.

“You wanted to leave. Come on. I can’t stay open forever,”
said the wall. So Tommy crawled under, and the wall closed
quietly behind him.