A photo which floated past on the internet this morning, also made this segment of one of my novels float past.
From “He Lives In The City / He Drives To The Country”
It had been a house of dreams, it was now a house of ghosts.
Ghosts tranquil and benign peered through the dusty upper windows, stood in wait behind the boarded doors. The dreams of long ago, which had tumbled down the stairs, and frolicked through the rooms, were now memories in the minds of ghosts.
The ghosts were themselves memories, destined to further fade with each new birth. But there would be no births in this house, as it slid inexorably toward decay. The lackluster brown shingles would be more smudged, the remaining panes of old glass would break, the floors would warp and collapse, the unkept roof would succumb to the years of harsh weather.
Even the `No Trespass’ sign was barely legible. Then where would the ghosts go?
Blaine left his car and walked toward the house.
If he had eyes to see, who would be there to greet him? Would children’s dreams, fair-haired and boisterous, burst through the front door and surround him in games of tag and laughter? Would he get caught by their enthusiasm (would he become a child himself), and race behind the trees, burrow into the hay, hide between the bins of potato and turnip, intent not to be `it’.
Or would he meet the ghosts, quiet and tentative at the top of the steps, moving slowly with their uncertain smiles. Would they greet him with a wave, invite him into their warm-smelling kitchens, offer him fresh tea, and squares right out of the pan? Would he sit in the stream of fall sunlight flowing across the well-oiled floor, and talk about childhood?
Blaine walked part way up the drive before he stopped.
He knew what lay beyond the boarded windows, and the sagging door upon its rusty hinges. Wallpaper would be water-stained, and curling off the plaster walls. There would be lumps of refuse in the corners of the rooms, with one inevitable rusty bedframe lying on its side. There would be gaps in the ceiling, where beams of sunlight shimmered through motes of dust. There would be holes in the baseboards, where earnest rodents made comfortable homes.
There would be musty smells offering a hint of long-ago meals, and something gone bad in the pantry. There would be one upper window (at the back) which still had a tattered lace curtain, half obscuring what had once been totally private. At night he would hear bats.
It was not this house he had come to see, of course. Of course, not this derelict house, which he knew could never be restored, and which was so beyond help even death slept while visiting.