Author : Robert Lafosse

I love this house. It is full of memories. The kids were brought up here. The family had its best times here. There are marks on the wall that map the growth of the children. The scars and scraps are a testament to the love and happiness that reined. It is sad that it has to be sold. The kids are gone and the place just feels empty. The estate agents have come and gone. People have tromped through, poked into cupboards and flushed the toilets. Someone liked it and made an offer. It was accepted. So now we go through the final steps. The movers have taken away the furniture; the pictures are off the walls. Soon a team of painters will go through to erase the spoors of our life here. It was a condition of sale.

There is a great pain in my heart as I realize what is about to happen. A new place has been found, but it will not be the same. It will not have the provenance of this place. It will not have the spaghetti stain at the top of the stairs that Anna made and I could never get out. It will not have the gouges in the bannister that Nathan made when he was foolishly given a pocket knife for his 13th birthday. It will not have the secret hiding places the kids used. We let them have these places. Children need their fantasies.

The doorbell rang. I answered it.

Two men wearing General Automatic’s coveralls were there. They each had a case.

“We are here to do the final retuning of the house for…”, the shorter one with no hair pulled out his tablet “Mr. Sorento. Can we come in?”

I let them in, I had no choice, it was part of the condition of sale.

“Where is the house control system?” The tall one asked.

“In the basement on the left. You can’t miss it.” I said. I opened the basement door for them and turned on the light.

They trotted down the stairs.

“Over here Bill”, the short bald one said.

“Wow this is old – must me one of the first on the market” They were looking at the grey metal box that held the house management system.

Bill was rummaging in his bag and pulled out a universal interface cable. He plugged into one of the free ports on the side of the box. “Doesn’t matter, they haven’t changed the maintenance passwords since the beginning of time.” On his tablet the familiar login screen popped into view. He let it scan his retina then put in the maintenance password.

“Holy shit – this has never been patched – not for… 22 years”.

“Really… never seen that before. I think we just wipe it and put in the latest firmware. Be faster than applying all the patches.”

“Yea, I agree. Can you imagine? I have never seen a house system so out of date.”

“These early versions had too much empathy. Proved to be a real problem. They got really attached to the owners and would start to glitch up if the family had any problems. This one is showing no major issues though.”

He opened the main maintenance page on the home system. At the firmware update page, he pressed the ‘reset to factory’ icon. This would effectively erase everything in the house’s memory.

I watched as he pushed the button and the scroll bar popped up. My memory faded as the scroll bar inched forward.