Our Empty House

mantlepiece_monument

Our Mantlepiece Monument

So, back then (Week 1) I wanted to be so, so far way. Anywhere but here.

I couldn’t bear living in this house. The house they grew up in, the house they came of age in. Pointless, senseless to be here, where their stuff is, where their rooms are; their clothes, their shoes, their smells, Izzy’s rosettes & trophies, Beth’s notebooks & sketchbooks, their laptops. The place they were coming home to.

That was then.

Now (Week 20), the house holds so many triggers and flickers of the o-so recent past. Familiar habits of family life that 4 months ago was normal, un-thought about. Now, I want to stay here, with their things and their favourite spots (Beth’s bed, where she spent so much time, Izzy’s red chair where she sat to do her make-up, their favourite places on the sofas) for as long as I can bear missing them.

And then there are things that still happen in this house that trigger their presence.

The security light flashes on –it’s Izzy, home from a shift at Starbucks and my instinct to hide the chocolate springs into life. The raspy buzz of the broken doorbell – it’s Beth, she can’t find her keys again.

beth_at_the_door

Beth at the door again.

Then there are things that will never, ever happen again in this house.

I’ll never hear the clank of heels on the hallway wooden floor at 5am, when Beth comes home ‘tired and emotional’ after going out for a quick drink. (I’ll spare you the details of her early morning state of being. Ask Miaya, she’ll tell you).

I’ll never play the hiding game with Iz, where I hid behind a door when she comes home and then pretend I was busy doing something (patting the wall a la Basil Fawlty ‘oh yes, all good here’) as she finds me. Laughing, she always laughed.

What’s left, when you’re on your own at home, is a yearning, a longing, a willing, to hear their movement, the creak of a floorboard, the thump of feet above, to sense they’re in the house like it was and that you’re not coming back to home alone, an empty house.

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