This house might as well be a metaphor for our marriage. Always a house – never a home. For home is where your heart is and my heart left this godforsaken place years ago. The garden is overgrown – red roses sit strangled by weeds and the grass is so long that it almost resembles a deep, dark jungle that I visited a lifetime ago during happier times. Eventually we both grew tired and simply stopped caring enough to try and keep things pretty and pleasant. Why even put up a pretense any more? Do we really care what the neighbours think?
The faded “Welcome” mat must be a bad joke, for it has been many months since I was ever made to feel welcome here. I’m tempted to scratch the letters “Un” before the sad pun to make it ring true but I have neither the time nor the energy. I clumsily fumble with my keys as I reluctantly open the bare, black front door to reveal the scars within. Cobwebs hang from the ceiling in the hallway. I was always too busy to sweep them away and you were always too sad, so there they hung. Perhaps it’s time I started naming the spiders. Might make the place seem a touch friendlier. Nope, far too late for that.
The living room is dead – walls scrawled on, furniture worn out and uncomfortable. I never liked that old sofa but it was a hand-me-down from your mother and like many of the ugly objects in this home, you had a story and a memory attached to it which meant that no matter what we had to keep it. No matter how hard I tried, I could never get comfortable on that thing. I’d feel springs poking into my back and hear my mother-in-law laughing at me for even trying to relax. Still, the 50″ Plasma is mine. No stories or precious memories attached to it but what a beauty.
A red stain covers the far wall and the floor in the dining room like blood spatter from the wine bottle that you threw at me on our anniversary one year. Missed. I’m getting the faint whiff of regret, disappointment and just a touch of betrayal. The flavours are subtle but bitter. Is the carpet in here supposed to be light grey or beige? We could never agree on colours. Just one of many areas where we never saw eye to eye.
The tap in the kitchen is still dripping – tears for my lost love. Perhaps it cries because I’m unable to – for I’m a guy after all and guy tears are as rare as pixie dust and almost as powerful. The cupboards are filled with stale food and mismatched plates. Hard to keep them coordinated when you kept throwing the crockery at me, the walls and anything else which caught your eye that day. Did any of our wedding presents survive our marriage?
I climb the creaking stairs and enter the bathroom to be met by those four purple walls which remind me of a bruise. The colour was your choice. Seems it was always your choice – life was just simpler that way and eventually I became too tired to argue anymore.
Broken toys lie discarded on the floor in my daughter’s old bedroom. Outgrown and unloved. Forgotten. How many dreams did I discard for you? Is it too late to dream once more? Am I too old for hope now?
In our bedroom I’m met by books on every wall. Hello old friends. These were my escape when times were tough. I read them on a daily basis. The old wooden bed lies silent but would creak angrily were I to put any weight on it. It’s fine – towards the end I became more accustomed to sleeping elsewhere anyway.
In each room I gather together whatever precious items I simply can’t do without and add them to a large cardboard box. When it is finally full and I can take no more of this place, I carry it outside, slamming the door behind me for the final time. I place it on the seat next to me in the front and adjust the mirror so I can see my daughter sitting in the child seat, still smiling at me. She was always a daddy’s girl. Here’s to new beginnings.
As I turn the key, the engine groans and stalls. Off to a good start. Hope it isn’t a sign of things to come – had more than my fair share of dark days already. My daughter giggles and finally the car comes to life. We’re off, leaving that haunted house behind. We are gone.
Copyright © 2015 Philip Craddock. All rights reserved.