A snippet of something I wasn’t planning to write, I’m just happy I finally managed to write for a prompt again!
“I’ll bring it back with me.”
The young man patted the dry, peeling siding. It was cool to his touch. A movement in the piled dead leaves covering most of the yard caught his eye, and he turned his head for a better look. A small brown wren was picking among them for something to eat, her still tail flicking up and down as she bounced about, making tiny rustles. Since he was looking, he could see the glimmer of white snowdrop blossoms, under the edge of the overgrown conifer – he wasn’t sure which kind, that would come later when he had the time to explore. There were so many treasures awaiting him, he was certain, in his new home.
“I’ll be right back.” He stepped carefully over the hole in the porch floor. “I should make a list…”
He was as good as his word. He pulled back into the drive, parking well short of the badly-leaning garage with its buckled door. The short day of early spring was coming quickly to a close, the sun’s rays coming in sideways and with a sort of golden haze that made the house look much happier than it had when he’d looked at it a mere month before, the day of the auction. He hadn’t been able to get in. The purchase wasn’t exactly a whim, but it wasn’t based on the solid certainties of inspection and contracts, either.
“For better or worse, you’re mine now,” He said as he walked up to the front door, hammer in hand. “So, let’s see what you’ve got.”
He shoved the claw end of the hammer under the roughly-nailed-on plywood and pried, gently. He was happy the house had its original siding, which seemed to be mostly intact for a miracle, other than the back of the house where the woods had grown up right to the house, and started to wrap around it, like a slowly engulfing mouth. There, the moisture had eaten into it. He’d sneaked back there and done some investigation before he’d put in his bid. The siding was punky, but the studs beneath it were still dry and sound. The roof was sound from what he could see, and with a drone and the satellite map view, he could see a lot. It had been a gamble, but a reasoned one.
Now, he worked his way carefully around the edges of the big piece of wood. The nails were rusty and squealed as he pulled them away from new and old woods. The plywood was a nice solid half-inch thick and would be useful somewhere. Just… not here.
It finally came loose, and he dropped the hammer beside it, holding the cover up with one hand. He hadn’t seen the front door yet. It was, likely, a gaping maw like the left front window, with it’s loose plywood he’d pulled back carefully to shine a flashlight in. They’d put the cover over the window, and to his surprise, taped big pieces of foam where the glass had been. He hadn’t been able to see into the house. This would be his first good look.
The other windows all had the remnants of blinds or curtains, or both. Some were hanging lopsided and tattered, but all had kept him from a good look. Him, and everyone else doing the sale. Which was likely why this house had gone so cheaply.
He pulled the wood towards him, and looked over the top edge.
The door was green.
It was old, likely original to the house, and the paint protected by its covering was almost shockingly bright beside the long-faded wood siding with its paint curling and flaking away. The door had a fan window, and down the center of its twelve panels, stained glass inserts.
The homeowner sucked in his breath.
“I guess I won’t need a door, then.
He carefully got the plywood out of the way. Then he stood for another long moment of silence staring at the brass doorknob, with its art nouveau plate and big skeleton keyhole.
“I don’t really want to lose that.” He put out his hand, wrapping long brown fingers around it. “I mean, I have no key for this. But damn. I wonder if one can be made?”
Then, just because, he turned the knob, and it went with him, and he could hear the mechanism slide back and then the door was opening.
He stepped inside, almost automatically. It was like the house was welcoming him, saying why are you standing out there, come in! Come in!
The interior of the house was incredibly dark, musty, and cold. He sneezed. There was a lot of dust in the air. He pulled a bandana and a little penlight out of his pocket, blew his nose, then switched on the light.
The house seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. Air touched his face, curious fingers of cool sensation, as he shone the light around, trying to get a feel for what it looked like.
He’d been talking to himself, more than the house, he’d told himself. It was like the unconscious conversation with a loving pet. They were people. The house, with its enigmatic windows and gagged doorway, had been personified in his mind. And now he’d undone its mouth and it could begin to speak to him.
My prompt this week came from Becky Jones, with “The house breathed a sigh of relief”
I prompted Becky in return with “Only human, after all”
You can read all of the prompt responses, and play along in the challenge yourself, at More Odds Than Ends.