You have been lost for a long time. Looking. You’re not looking for a way out, but for her. They say love makes you do crazy things, like the adrenaline shot that lets mothers lift cars off their children, that it gives you strength, even overcomes death. So it has. You ran into the house feeling brave once, as the desperate, starving fingers of flames climbed up the house’s walls, higher into a sunless sky. Now, you’re nothing but a caricature stuck on a record with one track: finding her.
You don’t speak. Haven’t dared to for eons it seems. You try to be silent, straining to hear her voice in case she’s calling for you. But you can’t even remember the sound of her voice, the way you used to imagine a sunrise would sound if a sunrise were to sing. Sunrises stopped being important a long time ago. The only sound you’re familiar with is the relentless drum of your own heart. No, not your heart, your footsteps: thick, and heavy. Your heart is irrelevant, doesn’t matter. Finding her matters. You swear to yourself with each step that she must be just around the corner, just up the stairs, just through this next closed door. You open it and step in. There’s someone in the bed. You yank off the blanket. It’s not her. You’re only vaguely aware of a blurry face, and curt, terrified gasps emanating from the bed and relentlessly echoing off the walls, creating a vortex of fear for the small figure huddled in the sheets. Something deep within you whispers that it has been a long time since you’ve gasped. But within half a moment that voice is already melting into the shadows in the corners of the room, softly retreating without echo, and it’s replaced by another. You have to find your… sister? Wife? Friend? A single, rare glimmer of clarity, and suddenly you’re not sure. Confusion comes at you like chloroform. Who is she? How did you get here? For a split second you recall the way ashes fluttered like feathers, the cruel betrayal of the floor as it gave away. Yet within seconds that clarity dissipates like smoke on the wind.
However, your lack of clarity and the absent purpose behind your search isn’t your real enemy. The worst part is the cold- insidious and sharp. Frostbite has nibbled its jagged teeth at the edges of your conscience for years, leaving you with only one thing: the search. You need to find her, to get to her. Just find her and everything will be… everything will be. You trudge out of the room to search another part of the house.
It never occurs to you just how long you have been looking. That if you just stopped and waited, she might find you. It never crosses your mind that all those people that moved in to make a home of the house came to it with bright joy, but always left with quiet, hidden scars. Terrified. You’ve never realized who exactly, had done that scarring, even though you don’t have real nails. The difference between you and them, is that they understand you. They may not understand your search. But they know something you don’t: what you are.
After leaving the terrified person in the bed, you start down the stairs, but don't quite register the man dashing up. You don’t step out of the way for him to pass. Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t, for you’ve forgotten how. Suddenly you’re colliding and gravity’s greedy arms are yanking him down stair by indifferent stair. He hits the bottom with a loud crack. You keep descending till you reach his still body at the base. You lean over him, inspecting. He’s not who you’re looking for. He doesn’t matter. Not when bone quivering exhaustion clings to you like viscous fog. You walk on with a heavy gait, trying to push through, but the fog isn’t even real, it exists inside you. Still, you walk.
You see an entry way- a hall. She may be there, you think, and walk on leaving behind only more silence. If you’re completely honest with yourself, you're not even positive you love her. It’s just one of the many things that has sunk deep into the belly of hungry, frozen forgetfulness. Maybe you even hate her. Maybe you ran into this once-burning house not to get her, but to get her. Love and hate are after all, cruel twins. Perhaps you despise her with a passion that transcends time, and your unending search is driven by hate. Trouble is, you don’t really know. Doesn’t seem to matter. So the same force that got you here, and kept you here, will go on possessing you; pushing you into the net hall, next room, next staircase, even though the house has been been rebuilt and rebuilt and rebuilt, it doesn't make a difference. You never really see it. Love, hate, whether or not you find her, it ultimately doesn’t matter. This is your haunted house.