Hi, there, guys! Long time no see! One of the things that seems to be omitted when you get those lists of “What Happens in Adulthood”, is the fact that there is never any time – what with trying to earn a living and all that.
Last night, I got an overwhelming urge to sit down and create something … and I thought that I would share the result with you!
I hope you enjoy it! This is ‘The House’:
It was practically derelict. Its window panes were coated in old fingerprints and an oily film that no one could figure out the source of. They shrieked for help with every gust of wind that slammed into them with all its might.
The roof sagged at the back; in some places it was touching the floor. I wondered how much water had collected in these recesses and whether the local animals used it like people used the Roman baths in Bath. I’m sure the sparrows would be all arrogance; the possums would be looking for love. They would all convene and share the stories of their days.
I was standing out on the street considering the best plan of attack. The sun was setting quickly and, in order to complete my mission, I had to be inside before the dark consumed the light. According to a series of thorough Google searches, it had been empty for ten years.
Apparently it last belonged to an old man who refused to have visitors and to leave. Mr Murphy said he delivered the man’s groceries every Tuesday afternoon at four. He was only allowed to place the box on the edge of the porch and take the cheque from the letter box. The man would bring the groceries inside once it was really dark.
I frowned. What a sad life to lead.
I took in a lungful of crisp autumn air and made my first step. What was the quote again? “Every journey begins with but a single step”? More like, “every adventure begins with but an idiotic bet”. When I asked the others whether they were going to accompany me on my “adventure”, their eyes became wide and laughed me out the door. They trailed behind me, drinks firmly clutched in their hands.
I took another couple of steps until I had no choice but to ascend the pair of stairs at the foot of the porch. The wooden slats before me looked as though they would snap like a wafer even under the weight of a mouse. It would be fitting, with my usual misfortune, to fall through them and land on the rotting corpse of a squirrel.
Tentative shuffles got me across the potential calamity. My friends whooped as I gently nudged the front door open and ducked under the “danger” tape. I glanced behind me. They were staggering on the pavement, running into each other, and bouncing off and into another of the group. The beer in my own stomach was a gentle fire, keeping me warm and suppressing any doubts.
The legend was supposed to be that the old man had died here and that his ghost still haunted the place, or something. I suppose, if ghosts existed, it would fit with his character. He refused to leave the place whilst he was alive, what makes death any different?
Despite my doubts as to the existence of such a being residing here, anxiety still mounted in my stomach as I had walked down here from campus. What if …
It was evident that no one had lived here for years. I didn’t realise this much dust could accumulate in one spot. I sort of just assumed that it got to a particular height and then stopped. It smelt musty, and the stench of stagnant water had permeated from the back, through to every room.
As I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket, a mouse scuttled across the kitchen floor causing my stomach to bound over my liver. I quickly turned on the flashlight app, which illuminated the entire room and slowly quietened my heart rate.
Fifteen minutes. That’s how long I had to stay. No doubt, they’re out there squinting at the timer on a phone screen watching the seconds tick by …
I spotted a small table by a window with a pile of paper and a candle in a holder burnt ‘til the wick ran out. I made my way over, the floorboards creaking under my feet. The turquoise wax had pooled in the basin of the candle holder and solidified again. The paper had curled at the corners, due to the exposure to sunlight day in and day out.
The top page had been faded beyond recognition, so I turned it over to the second and began to read.
For as long as the boy could remember, he wanted to be a superhero—not the one in comics, or books, but a real one. He dreamt of the costume he would trademark as his own, and the girls who would swoon when they saw the difference he had made in the world … but the thing that he wanted more than anything, was to save lives …
The time waltzed around me as I read; I became a part of the life of Henry St. James—the boy who dreamt of Superhero-dom. When I had finished, I took a moment. I leant against the table with the wilting paper in my hands and wondered what I should do with what I had found.
Suddenly, my phone lit up and told me that my battery was at ten percent capacity. Whatever decision I made, it was going to have to be quick. I thought the old man who sat here, with the turquoise candle burning. I thought about how many hour it had taken to produce something like this. Was I willing to let it go to waste?
In a moment of panic, I shoved the manuscript under my arm and made for the door. I couldn’t let this sit in a dilapidated hellhole to rot. That’s not what it was written for. I wondered if the old man could see me nicking his hard work. Was he rejoicing or cursing?
I shook the thought of ghosts and such out of my head, swung the front door open, and leapt down the stairs and out into the autumn night. My friends had obviously given up waiting for me; that, or they ran out of beer. I strolled back to campus feeling like Henry St. James—desperately wanting to save the life that burned in those pages.
The face that sat atop the withered frame stretched into a smile. It had waited for this day for ten years, and now it had finally come, he didn’t know how to contain the joy that was mounting deep within. Everyone said that he had remained because of his reclusive nature—that he lay in wait to bite and tear at those who were dared to come inside.
He smiled for the day that his efforts would be noticed. He smiled for the boy who drank his liquid courage, yet was still sober enough to have compassion. He smiled because he was free.
If you liked what you read, be sure to let me know with a like or a comment. I am always up for feedback!
I’ll try not to leave the gap as long this time. Love always, Sarah. x