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It started out like every other day. She rolled out of bed, made her coffee, and perched herself in her favourite spot on the east-facing patio.


To Stella, the east is where the day is born. The sun first appears, its golden rays gently coaxing the world into action. To her, this signifies the importance of positivity and light. It wasn’t long ago that everything in her life seemed perfect. Perfect job, perfect family, she had it all. As she gave into this train of thought, she thought back to her early childhood.


She had a stable, if unspectacular childhood. She was not overly popular, but she was liked well enough. She would never be described as an exhilarating person, but rather as safe, stable and reliable. It was in this mediocrity that she thrived.   Her home life was much the same; her parents had seemingly been together forever. Sure, they had their share of tense moments, but they always seemed to come out the other side of them. While inspiration was not their strong suit, love and stability was. Thinking back on it, a smile starting to appear on her face. She always felt safe at home, regardless of what was happening in the outside world. Her foundation was solid, there was always mom and dad, there was always her childhood fortress; these things all added up to her sense of home. It was when she was deep in this thought, that very precious moment, when the phone rang.


Stella glanced at her watch, it was only 8am; for a moment she hesitated as the sun was just clearing the top of the forest behind her house. That glorious moment when one feels in touch with nature, the warmth of the sun providing the same sense of security for her that home did. It was then that her sense of curiousity overtook her; who would be calling so early, what in the world could they want?


She slowly rose, and chided herself on her ingrained sense of obligation; yet another carryover from her upbringing, her inbred desire to be there whenever anybody called. She told herself that it was selfless, but deep down she knew it wasn’t. These acts of service did more to satisfy her sense of purpose more than her desire to help others. She learned this from her parents. They had a habit of being ‘helpful’, even when their presence was unwelcome. Perhaps this was a byproduct of her introverted personality? Perhaps this was how she reached out to the world. Maybe it was just her strong sense of curiousity? Whatever the reason, she lunged for the phone and picked up the receiver.


It was her cousin, and childhood best friend, Joan. There were no pleasantries or platitudes in this conversation, just an explosion of frantic dialogue. While only half listening to Joan, as she had a habit of carrying on like this, Stella got lost in the story of how she met her soul mate.   She met Steve while she was at work one day; handsome and funny he had swept her completely off of her feet. It wasn’t the dialogue of the phone call that brought Steve to mind, but the abruptness of it that triggered her memory. Her parents were unimpressed with him, not personally, as they found him rather charming, but in what he represented. He was a break in the solidity of their family unit. Her relationship with Steve was all encompassing, and for years she tried to live in this self-concocted duality. She tried to evolve into her new role as a life-partner without severing her ties to her parents. Even as an adult, her parents represented security, and most poignantly home. In building her future with Steve, she was faced with the task of reconciling her past. Her parents and their stability versus Steve and his passion. She knew from her childhood example that she had to buy-in with Steve, but what of her parents? Where was the balancing point, was there a middle ground…


It was in this moment when Joan recaptured Stella’s attention. It was abrupt, a single phrase that did it; there has been an accident, it was pretty bad…


It was her father, there was a drunk driver, or perhaps he was drunk. The details didn’t really matter, as it appeared as if he wasn’t going to survive this. Her mind wandered back to her childhood impressions of him. He was stoic, strong and stubborn. He rarely bared his soul, but when he did that is when his true essence shone through. He had a strict sense of duty to family that had more than imprinted on her; it had enveloped her. It was this that caused her to fight when Steve expressed his dislike for where their relationship was heading. It was her insecurities, also from her father, that had caused most of the fights in the first place. It was this that saw her wake up alone on this morning, her sense of duty that triggered her stubbornness. Joan slowly brought Stella back into focus; in the short amount of time Stella had become engrossed in her own thoughts her father had passed. Her childhood broken, but her future secured.


She hung up the receiver and mechanically returned to her patio. As she slowly brought the cup of coffee to her lips, fighting the accompanying tremble, she decided it was time. She finished her coffee and picked up the phone. When Steve answered, all she could do was sob.





  1. Hi Sean,

    Thank you for your story. It really captivated my attention, and I could picture everything as it was happening. I really empathize with your main character, Stella. Do you feel a connection to her in some way?

    I was struck by the fact that your story never said outright what “home” means; but reading between the lines, it would seem that home is connection–connection to people more than connection to place.

    I can relate to the difficulty in transitioning from a childhood of looking to your parents for security and a sense of “home”, to looking to yourself and your adult relationships for this same sense of belonging. I wonder if this is what the end of your story is telling us. In the end, Stella turns to Steve for comfort and security in her time of heartache. And I wonder if this is the definition of home: A safe place to belong and be real.

    It would seem that, in a way, Stella had outgrown her parents in the sense that she no longer felt belonging with them. But, at the same time, was not ready to commit to belonging with Steve. Finding identity and belonging are basic human needs (just ask Maslow)…perhaps home is simply the culmination of having these needs met.

    What do you think?

    • Hi Janine,

      I want to start by saying how much I appreciate your thoughtful responses and I am encouraged by how adeptly you picked up in the subtext in this story.

      The elements of the story, aside from a view small adjustments/redirections, are all a mirror to various aspects of my own life. In this way, her story is very much mine. In many ways I found writing this story as a avenue to explore and express some of my deeper feelings and experiences.

      I certainly meant to leave my definition of “home” veiled, and after reading your response I believe I now realize what I was trying to say about my designation of the meaning of home.

      The difficulty in navigating transitions in life is definitely a central theme in this story, and the fluidity of home is something that I can relate to wholeheartedly. The other aspect, which you haven’t touched on is the instability of home, basing one’s feeling of belonging to a person (or people), rather than to a place, creates a potentially volatile relationship with sense of belonging. There is a subtle reference to this. in regards to her circumstances, in the first paragraph.

      I think your final paragraph nailed it, home is the culmination of whatever elements an individual needs in order to feel a sense of belonging and purpose. I have walked this tightrope, both knowingly and not, for the better part of my adult life. This story is an exploration into self-perception, and some realizations about what home is to me.

      Again, i sincerely appreciate your response, let me know if you have any other questions for me.

  2. Hey Sean,

    Thanks for your story; it’s really well written. It was interesting to read a story about your values of home where you weren’t the lead character. It makes me curious about which parts of the story directly relate to what your experiences of home have been. I can really relate to the feeling of being totally grounded in the stability my parents give me, and I hope that that feeling doesn’t get ripped away like it does for your protagonist.

    • Hi Julia,

      Almost everything in that story directly related to my own experiences over the past year. I have changed some of the circumstances, but the upheaval and general circumstances are taken from personal experience. I found the process quite freeing, being able to transpose my experience on a neutral third party in my protagonist. Both the subtle and direct references are accurate in my current circumstances, and I found this assignment to be healing.

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