Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where Do You Stay? by Andrea Cheng

Jerome is eleven years old, and is trying to come to terms with his mother's recent death from cancer. An only child, he and his mother were very close; he misses her terribly. He moves in with his aunt and uncle and their two sons. Both boys are a bit resentful because Jerome seems to be without any faults--at least that's what their mother is always saying, suggesting that they try and be more like him. Jerome, mature beyond his years, senses that he and his cousins need some time to adjust to one another. While he's waiting for this to happen, he bonds with an elderly man who works for his aunt and other folks in the neighborhood, in exchange for food. Jerome and Mr. Willie share a love of music, gardening, and stone walls.

Mr. Willie lives in a dilapidated carriage house on the property of a nearby empty mansion. He has very few possessions and that's the way he likes it; he believes in minding his own business and thinks that other people should do the same. His homespun wisdom appeals to Jerome.

A "For Sale" sign appears one day on the mansion, and Jerome fears that both the mansion and the carriage house will be demolished. The new owners arrive and begin restoring the large house, but decide to tear down the carriage house. Mr. Willie disappears when he hears the bulldozers approach. Jerome and his cousins are hired to help clean out the mansion which will be turned into a school. He was told by Mr. Willie that there was a lovely piano in the house, and he starts searching for it. It cannot be found, and Jerome is very disappointed. The piano is missing, Mr. Willie is missing, and Jerome feels that his new life is unraveling before it has hardly begun. He thinks of his mother's advice to "listen and come back in" whenever he would miss a musical note, and he decides that he's going to do that in his new life, too. You cannot help but wish that only good things happen for Jerome from now on in this new life. 2011.


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