It sits there quietly waiting for death. Not its own, but that will surely come too.
The house waits for its owner, no longer living there, to pass.
Within its walls, it holds her secrets, her dreams, her love. It holds her memories in a way that she no longer can.
It was built on sound foundations before there were any other houses on the road. The house survived the raging fires that devastated the small mountain town back in 1936. That was during a serious heat wave when temperatures rose to 98 degrees by noon. The temperature was 93 degrees at 9 am.
High winds fanned the fire and eight houses, the scouts’ hall and some dairy buildings were destroyed in the flames in that tiny village.
There have been other fires, but not so close. The only thing between those flames and the house was the road.
The road, once not much more than a track, is now a busy thoroughfare and the house sits within the company of other houses that line the street.
THE HOUSE SURVIVES
It’s brick and mortar have not only survived fire but also gale force winds that pushed trees onto its speckled red tiled roof.
It is surrounded by those towering trees and a huge garden. Once lovingly tended to by its owner, the garden now grows vigorously but haphazardly, threatening to completely clothe the house in a leafy cloak.
The house’s blinds and windows are firmly shut against the world and the sunshine and yet it holds tight to the memories of love and laughter and the happenings of busy lives.
Now empty, there is no noise inside its walls, but the scurrying of tiny feet from the bushland creatures who magically find their way into any shelter, regardless that it is closed like a vault.
The house has only known one owner and when her husband died prematurely, the owner cherished her home more than ever, as the silent witness to her love, her life and her hard work.
WITHIN THOSE WALLS
Those two bedrooms were all they needed, as they had not been blessed with children though it was their greatest wish.
The house was not deprived of the noise of joyful children, though. The owner regularly babysat for her neighbours when new people started building houses nearby.
With no children of their own, the couple turned their nurturing talents towards their garden and maintained the house with pride and joy.
A huge orange tree in the backyard produced so much fruit each season that the owner would share it among her neighbours.
A magnificent magnolia tree towers over the other trees in the front garden and still blossoms in all its glory each winter, a testament to the care and nurturing it received as a seedling.
Once the owner had a car accident which resulted in a hospital stay. All she wanted, when asked, was for her azalea plants in the back garden to be watered regularly. These were her children.
The home’s tiny kitchen, fitted out with ancient appliances, was where the owner would make amazing feasts for her family when they came to visit. Feasts they still remember with joy. She hadn’t cooked in years when she had to leave her home.
The lounge room was cosy with overstocked bookcases and happy photographs adorning the walls. By the time she left, the owner could no longer remember who was in those photographs.
Large comfy chairs faced an ancient television, rarely used as books and the radio were her preferred forms of entertainment.
When she moved, her loved ones discovered the ancient gas heater did not work. They wondered how she had survived the bitter winter nights in this mountain town without the benefit of heating. By then, heat and cold, hunger and pain, no longer registered with her.
When it was time for her to leave, the owner fought valiantly for her home and the right to return to it. The decision was out of her hands.
So heartbroken was she, that the new decision makers in her life promised not to sell the house while she still lived, keeping alive a hope – now long forgotten – that she could return one day.
That was a few years ago.
So the house sits there quietly waiting for death. Her death will almost certainly mean its death.
New owners will surely tear it down in favour of a larger, more modern home, unencumbered by the smells of abandonment and loneliness.
IF THE HOUSE COULD THINK
What will happen to her memories? They are imprinted in the walls and the floors and the ceiling.
If the house could think, is it confused by its abandonment and neglect after so many years of loving care?
Is it fearful of being torn down and trashed after so magnificently sheltering its owner from fires and storms? Or will that be a relief from the cold and dark loneliness of no longer being useful?
If the house could think, would it wonder why it was allowed to stand empty when so many humans spend their cold winter’s nights sleeping under the stars with no home to go to?
Is this what its owner, when in her right mind, would want?
I do not know. What do you think?
Have a gleeful week, Tamuria