The old house.

September 26, 2016


I held the door and paused, absorbing the  memories. The creaking door in the bathroom. The burn on the skirting board from a dropped  iron. Pencil marks on the utility wall marking the growth of  children and grandchildren like  rings on a tree trunk.
The sink where we had washed a thousand dishes and wiped away dirt from a myriad of muddied knees and faces.
The mark on the carpet where the contents of a bottle of wine had spilled it's crimson contents one Christmas unnoticed .  A glorious tangle of forgotten memories cemented into the very fabric of the place.
We left the curtains, deep brick red, faded where they had met the sun on countless mornings. Protection from icy draughts that somehow seeped under the ancient frames on cold dark winter  nights.
A line on the carpet marked the spot where the Welsh dresser had stood proud and imposing against the dining room wall. The  familiar willow pattern dinner set  which had proudly adorned it's  polished oak shelves for over fifty years, now heading  unwanted for an auction room. A ticket from a long forgotten  bus trip lying forlornly in a corner.
The tap drip, dripping, disturbing the stillness. 
The hull remains. The flotsam and jetsam of a life bundled into packing boxes. Precious ornaments wrapped in brown paper and labelled fragile.
Cobwebs where the Victorian wardrobe had been. Too large for us to move, but now carried away by burly removal men, cursing and sweating as they heaved it's dusty carcass down the narrow stairs.
The silence is heavy. No familiar  clock  to mark down the unforgiving seconds of life, whirring and creaking to strike against each passing hour.
The rose that we had bought them for their wedding anniversary brushed against the window. 
Another tear shed, another life gone, another story confined to memory. I take in the creaky third stair, carefully avoided by teenagers returning beyond the curfew. The fireplace with the cracked tile, once carefully concealed by a polished copper kettle, now exposed and ugly.
The door that had seen so many changes, happy arrivals and desperately sad departures, with the old familiar key worn from generations of use. Now set to shut on this past life forever. 
The new owners would strip it back, expose forgotten beams, splash colourful paint over the layers of magnolia.  The rooms once again ready to fill with joy and laughter. The bathroom door would swing fixed and silent, all vestiges of our old family life removed.  The house would surely remember the joy and rejoice with the vibrant new youngsters that were exploring it's secret nooks and crannies. 
But when wind blows from the west when the summer is nearly over, the old red rose, replanted now outside our kitchen may catch the breeze and scatter scarlet petals on our window sill and we will remember.
Jan Millward©


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