The Farmhouse

I passed a beaten down farmhouse on the way to Geneseo. It was an an unusually warm late summer day when even a convertible wasn’t cooling.

The house once had life kicking within it, an expectant mother smiling each time she touches her stomach. Freshly painted outside with the comforting smells of bread baking, an apple pie cooling on the kitchen windowsill, a dog lying near the back steps, snoozing in the late afternoon sun. There were fights and parties, a death or two, screaming orgasms with headboards banging, rain pouring off the roof, lulling those inside back to sleep.

Now empty and forgotten, the ivy ate the house board by board greedily engulfing the entire lower floor, stretching its sticky fingers upstairs, past the shattered windows, its black eyes swollen shut, its red trim peeling and dark, dried blood caked into its sides.

As I drove, I felt its sadness reach out to me. If it had arms, it would have lurched across the expanse of highway to grab me as old people do when you walk down the hallway of a nursing home. The house begged, “please burn me down now, let me go, or else the nothingness will eat me alive.”

I ignored it and continued on my way, pretending I had somewhere better to be. Perhaps if I was a different person, I would have pulled over and gone to the house, sung it a lullaby, whispered gently as I lit matches near the front door. If I were different, I’d sit with the house, respecting it enough to hear its final confession, watch it heave its final breath before giving itself over to whomever it is that watches us all.

Instead I continued to drive further and further east, away from all the things in my life that are supposed to matter, wishing I had the chance to become myself all over again. Because then, I would have made sure to become the type of person who would stop and help a friend in need. Instead of being this person, afraid to make eye contact, afraid that if I stopped, all I would to do is climb up its uneven stairs and curl up in the farthest corner until the autumn breeze cooled me down.


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