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The House

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The sun was about to set, painting the world in full, rich, golden and orange hues. As if an unseen toddler, playing with the colors of the world was finger-painting with his new painting kit, experimenting with his art, splashing the fading day with the most beautiful colors he could find. As if the whole world were his easel. As if he had never seen sorrow before. Yet the beauty of such a beautiful end of the day fell upon blind eyes. They could see, yes, but what happens if they did not want to see? The house that sheltered them knew of the great sadness inside, yet it had no way of telling the sun that. The world had struck them, and had struck them hard, and now, who cared if the end of the day was beautiful? For the end of the day brought night, a dark, time of remembrance or things past and sorrow, crying your self to sleep. And the house heard everything.

The mailman was tired. Walking upon the brown, dirt roads, day after day, was taking a toll on his old and aching body. But it paid the bills. It was worth it, in the end, he tried to tell himself. The worn blue suit was falling off his thin body. One more stop to make, he thought silently, then I can go home. He was not married, though sometimes he wished he were. He wished he had someone to return to at the end of a long day, someone who he could share his life with. But there was no one. He pulled the last envelope out of his satchel. Only this morning it had been bursting with news. Now it was empty, save one. He studied it, and sighed. He knew what kind of envelope it was. He hated the news it contained, though it had nothing to do with him. The last house had arrived. Gently, he pulled open the rusty door of the small metal box and dutifully put up the red flag attached to the box. I’m sorry, he thought silently to the house, and he closed the door. Uh oh, thought the house. Something’s wrong.
Inside that house were two women, one the mother of the other. They were busy, and excited, flitting about, getting in each other’s way, but having a grand time, giggling the whole way. The entire house was being given last minute touches to the already wonderfully decorated abode. The house generally loved getting dressed up, but the envelope bothered the house. It supposed it was just being silly, probably just a letter to the daughter, it thought. Yet despite this reasoning, the mailman’s expression troubled the house. I wonder, thought the house.
The two women smelled like cake and other delicacies, because they had been up since 5:00 a.m. working on his favorite cake and dinner, and after many laughs and adventures, they had finished it all. They sneaked a few samples, which had been baked for that purpose, and thought it tasted good enough for the husband’s homecoming. In hushed tones, the CD played softly, one of his favorites. The mother wore a sensible cardigan and off-white sandals with a beautiful dress that he had bought for her once upon a time. The daughter was more outgoing and wore a daring, gorgeous dress that she would wear to prom later in the year. She had decided that her father’s homecoming was worth breaking out the dress. Satisfied that the home was ready for his arrival, they waited. But the house knew better.
The sharp-eyed daughter spotted the red flag about ten minutes after the mailman delivered it. Running out to get it but careful of her dress on the garden steps, she raced down the path to the box. She pulled out a pristine envelope addressed to her mother, closed the lid, put down the flag, and raced back up the steps. Here it comes, thought the house hopelessly. Though exactly what it was, it did not know.
The mother, her eyes smiling at her energetic daughter, gently took the letter from her daughter. Laughing, she scolded her daughter playfully about her new dress. “Don’t take too many risks with it! It’s brand new!” she laughed as she reached for the envelope knife. With steady fingers, (her left ring finger adorned with a beautiful, yet simple ring of gold and sapphire) she speedily slit the envelope and took out the paper, which was folded into exactly into thirds. It smelled like perfume and another smell she couldn’t figure out just yet. She opened the letter and skimmed the note, her face with each line adopting a look of despair. She figured out what the smell was. Sorrow. The house had figured it out as well. Yet all it could do was stand silently.
“What is it?” cried the daughter worriedly, as she snatched the paper from her mother, hoping to still her mother’s anxiety. To her it just smelled like the last traces of the sticky seal. But she, too, wore a sad look as she finished the last line of the letter, letting it drop from her trembling hands onto the festive table. She sank back into the chair, and neither of them spoke a word for the longest time, just sitting there, trying to comprehend it all. The house could do nothing but sympathize noiselessly with its occupants.

The girl hung her prom-dress up in the back of her closet that night, vowing never to wear it again. Her mother just stared at the wedding ring winking cheerily back at her as the night grew darker. The white envelope lay on the table, looking innocent and accusing, all alone on the kitchen table. He would never come home again. The house felt empty without him, he had brought life to it, a good change from the usual everyday activity. It missed him.
The mailman made his rounds, and came back to the house where he had borne such frightful news. He sighed, for all the signs of festivity around the house where gone. He wished he hadn’t delivered it, but what was worse? To not know what happened or to know what had happened? Either was painful, just like the bunions that had grown on his feet. I’m sorry, house, truly I am, he thought as he gazed for a moment at the home. Slowly he walked down the path, wishing he could change things, but he couldn’t. Walking steadily down the path, he walked away from the forlorn house, to a house of similar gloom. I’m sorry too, thought the house.





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