Monday, January 12, 2009

this chair confuses me.

imagine a house. a tall brick house with peeling paint. its elegant windows and noble arches speak of former grandeur, but it is now enshrouded with thick ivy and the branches of overgrown pines. dead leaves are heaped on the front stoop. passerbys in the street don't see the gaunt face of the hunched old woman who sits day and night, unmoving, in an ancient chair by the uppermost bedroom window. they don't hear her faint humming, the same broken refrain sung again and again.

children believe it's the home of a witch and they run down the opposite side of the street at breakneck speeds so she can't smell their fear. children are perceptive creatures with big imaginations. the old woman is not a witch and she does not smell fear. she smells nothing now, not even the rotting flesh of her three youngest sons, whose bodies have lain in the bed for a quarter of a century.

back when the tall brick house always had a fresh coat of paint, lights dancing in the windows and yellow tulips lining the front path in spring, the four boys who had hunted for worms in the back garden and played ball in the street left to join the army. their father had died some years before and the old woman, who was not an old woman then but young and known in town for her fierce wit, sent her hopes and dreams off to war with them.

when she received news of her eldest son's death, the woman sank into a deep depression. several months later, a message arrived announcing that another of her sons was missing in action. the woman never left the house after that. concerned neighbours knocked at the door with fresh pies and homemade jams, but there was never a response and they soon abandoned their efforts. faint lights deep within the house appeared from time to time, the only sign that anyone still lived there.

no one saw the young man arrive. no one welcomed him home from the war or told him why the garden, once cheerful and tidy, had become an overgrown tangle of weeds. no one saw his brothers arrive either, and no one warned them that their mother would greet them with dead eyes and hollow words, perhaps too lost within herself to realize that she was poisoning their tea before tucking them into bed one last time and resuming her post by the window, where she would watch for her boys and sing the lullabye that lulled them to sleep every night so many years before.

so. why is this chair, which clearly belongs in a haunted house, located in the second-story office of a train station? many ghastly things have happened at train stations, I'm sure, but few of them involve the positioning of dilapidated armchairs at dejected angles beside windows. I find this troubling.

1 comment:

kt said...

great post, bish! i can only come to the conclusion that this is a result of all those damn scary movies we watched... the orphanage in particular, hehe. how are you sleeping, btw? evil grin.