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The night was dark and cloudy, very slight illumination radiating from far-away streetlights, seemingly miles from my desolate corner. The stoop below me had frozen several days before, and it remained in that state currently. It chilled the skin that was separated from the frost by thin jeans and a sweater. It was in the aforementioned night that I first observed the snow, meandering through the air to a cool retirement amongst the iced streets.
The crystals fell and fell, and subsequently I discerned the faces against the windows. Behind those faces a light shone, touching each corner of the room behind them, allotting each child a halo of ethereal substance. I saw the lips pressed against the glass, imprinting a perimeter of steam, and thus for a moment the snow would appear closer, much closer than previously thought- perhaps within grasp, a reach of the palm away.
Parents and grandparents behind would first notice the wonder themselves, the spark of youth returning to their eyes, naivety glimmering bright. This would last for a mere moment before the children were ushered away. It would be late in the night, the morning approaching stealthily, sheathed in the barren snow. All too soon the parents and grandparents would feel their foolishness and revert to their maturity. Again, it would be mere snow, a reason to postpone school and the source of traffic-causing accidents. The elders at this point would have thoughts of the maneuvers they would most likely employ in the case of the morning, to remove the material from their windshields and doors.
The children in their rooms would dream of tales they would never think to pen, for they lack both the vocabulary and skill. How sad it is that, as children, our dreams will go unrecorded. I cannot recall the last hopeful dream that had occurred to me.
But the children have no cares to write their adventured down. In years these fables would leave their minds, and sagas of sleds and slush would be replaced with maturity; for what adult would cherish snow? It is far more enlightened to think it a nuisance, bitter material, chilling to the bone and drying to the skin, carrying with it sickness and obstructing plans.
In my delusion I closed my eyes to the visual of the children finding rest’s door, stepping into it slowly, and without a glance backwards stealing into those marvelous dreams. Of course, now the children lack halos, and the only faces behind the glass are of spirits from my own imagination. The street’s howls were piercing and in my delirium, visible. The whistles of factories that had not stood there long ago became visible gusts of cloud-like explosions. I instantly noticed the walls aflutter and shaking violently, caution in their creeks and peril in their moans. A brick would fall here and there, landing ten feet, twelve, fourteen, eight, perhaps six feet from my person. These would shatter the stoop, a large hole gaping behind me. Through that hole a basement would be revealed, with precious books now ruffled and exotic carpet dirtied. Among the damage would be a dark wood table smashed and an antique globe wet from broken pipes.
In this chaos, I was able to keep composed solely by my own words. I repeated continually that this was delirium, fantasy, a hallucination of epic proportions. I was sure of this by the fiftieth round of these words, for as the snow fell and landed over every surface: roofs, roads, stoops, yards, fences, the snow never touched my body. It swirled around my being, light beneath it at certain moments, drawn to me for no explicable reason. I was teasing it: allowing the snow to circle, yet never to land. Oh, how bad, how positively mischievous I did feel. I laughed heartily, my laughter echoing in the commotion surrounding me. That silent, white commotion.
The bricks did not follow suit, coming ever closer with each attack. I longed to fly above the bricks- to the snow that dared not come near me. Nothing came of this request as a brick landed centimeters to the left of one shoe and I shook. The cold seemed harsher now.
But I wouldn’t leave my stoop, observing the snow circling, the bricks falling, the wind sweeping by, the angelic faces behind windows- clear, sad faces (all of which were oblivious to my state of emergency).
In my place I rotated to face the house, or what was left of the beautiful home. As white as the descending snow, with eight gargoyles upon the roof, I remembered how the owners did love the extravagant, the luxurious- plush robes and curtains and expensive cars and animals. The house was large, hovering over me, with an air of arrogance I could not dismiss, demanding my purpose on its premises.
“I don’t have to answer to you, you falling-apart, decrepit house!” I yelled to it. The windows had multiple panes and curtains behind them, for the owners had loved the privacy the house afforded upon evenings when the mood struck them for reading in the reaching heat of the fire, armchairs velvety rouge and books leather-bound in brown and gold. The lord of the house had two dogs which accompanied him as he turned those pages to the crack of each log.
To this day I cannot place how I related to the owners, how I knew so very much about their lives. I must have been fairly important in their household, for otherwise they would not have confided in me their secrets, one being that he had gambled much money to horses and dogs and other such racing animals. The night next, the secret had been warm in my chest, soft and lavishing me in compliments on my admirable ability to remain its sole carrier for such a very long time. I do not remember in the least what became of that secret. I do have a tendency to let out many a private word, and so I would imagine I had told the mistress of the household on some dreadfully cold night, when I was vulnerable and guilty. Or, to my delight, I may have kept it for all of these years, harboring its value in my breast and using it to offset loneliness or anger.
My, I have digressed rather vulgarly. Either way, the roof had fallen in to show the dark wooded stairs, the banister white as an effect of the snow. The chandelier lay in a heap, and the piano supported many shingles. A bookshelf had fallen, literature scattered about. The misses would have screamed at me to lift each one, I suppose, but perhaps I was not the maid. Perhaps I was a traveler come to stay for some time before I set off again. The proposal deserved a giggle, which escaped from my lips, for my life (not that I even slightly remember it) must have been dull. I was never one for adventure, nor independence nor tales of princes and dragons. I must have adored them as a child.
Oh, as a child. Tears collected at the small crevice between my nose and eyes at the thought. That must have been long, long ago.
Some time later, the shaking ceased, and the walls (reduced to mere heaps in several areas) stood stoic. Still, emotion at bay, I stared- transfixed- and remembered oddities about the owners. How the butlers whispered of their financial affairs, each hypothesizing exquisite sums of debt or smuggled credit. There were no children, as they would have broken the china and impeached on the owner’s frequent social outings. For this a sense of melancholy often befell me, for the house would have been merry, perhaps, had there been even a single infant to chase after. In my transfixion I had not noticed my toes numb, my arms and fingers following suit. Yet at this moment I blinked, and felt my eyes close with fatigue. Stumbling through the heavy downfall, I lay myself upon the stoop, head between red wool-covered arms and legs curled into my stomach.
And the walls rebuilt themselves, tall and regal once again, the roof together, shingles glorious, gargoyles watching over again, protecting the home. But in that moment a lengthy period of time elapsed. The roof’s shingles aged and grew green with moss. The chimney lost bricks, and the remaining one’s paint peeled. The walls took on a sickly gray hue and grew discolored. The gargoyles became rusted on their heads and wings after their fingers and claws and toes disappeared, disintegrating into the air. And so I was in the room, gray and lonely, simply a bed with a door. The window was small and met the ceiling. It had dawned upon me that the house I had once loved was the one I was now caged in, and saw writing upon one wall in white. Every so often a man in white would circle the house, taking a look into each room, securing the rooms were occupied, and leaving. Lifting myself, I rose to read the wall, an abominably hideous structure. I believed I had written it. Perhaps it had allowed me hope of escape. However in this moment it simply received a sigh. My eyes interpreted the anger in its prose as perhaps madness. For why else should I reside here? And with that thought, my eyes shut and I returned to the gray of the bed.
And these walls that bind me
Shall no longer
For armed with sense and with
Vision, The gate climbed and
Acres cleared, I shall
Assemble a Home; where
Walls do not live
And Shackles are needless, for
I shall construct a home
Where I am Free.