The Empty Home

Your dress fluttered in the wind as it hung off the clothesline outside of your house, the afternoon sun glinting off the gold and silver threads finely woven into the fabric. The faded blue and white stripes complemented the loose strings that were barely able to hold the dress together. Next to the clothesline sat the remainder of your favorite chair, the white paint peeling off of the legs that had collapsed over time. When your husband left you, you spent all of your time in that chair: reading, thinking, crying. Above the chair was a tree that you planted when you first moved in with him. It rained colorful leaves over the yard, covering the dilapidated objects with a blanket of scarlet. That tree was supposed to represent the beginning of your life with him, not the rest of your life alone.

A small wooden house sat next to the oak tree, seemingly unkempt and abandoned. The floral designs that you had painted on the outside of the house years earlier were no longer visible as harsh weather destroyed them over time. He had never liked the yellow flowers that had taken days for you to paint. You remembered how he screamed at you when he came home from work, telling you that you had ruined the one good thing that had come out of this marriage. Now the only thing left of your creation was faint yellow markings across the door and window shutters. The stone steps you placed leading up to the house had been covered by moss and grass over many seasons, making them disappear altogether. On either side of the walkway, uncut grass was teeming with insects, crawling toward the covered steps, making homes amongst the risen ground. Your yard was once something you were proud of, but after he left, you no longer had the motivation to make it presentable. You mostly remained inside, staring at your clock as the hours slowly passed. A door stood at the beginning of the walkway, cracked open as the lock had snapped years earlier from rust. Holes riddled the door and light streamed in to produce designs on the old carpeted floor. One of those holes came from his fists when he was angry. You would run and hide as he punched the door until it broke, littering the carpet with wooden shards.

Your Grandfather Clock still remained in the corner of the hallway, its majestic hands stuck at half-past two. At the end of the hallway was a door leading into a kitchen that seemed to belong in a 1920s magazine. He always told you that you belonged in the kitchen. “A wife should be able to make me a meal any damn time of the day,” he would bellow as you scrambled to pull something together. The linoleum floor that he picked out was covered in dust and dirt, dimming the room as if there was a dark cloud inside of it. The special mug that you had painted yourself lay shattered on the ground as if someone had dropped it accidentally. You remembered standing in that kitchen as you watched him walk in with another woman, the mug slipping out of your fingers and breaking into a million pieces. Your bedroom became your sanctuary, your oasis of safety and peace. Inside laid a queen bed whose white blankets were perfectly straight and covered with a thin layer of dust. The blue and white pillows lay disorganized on the bed while the white headboard leaned slightly against the mattress. You remained in that bed for days, unable to eat or do even the simplest of tasks. There was one big window with white threadbare curtains that emitted the afternoon glare into the small, bare room. You would aimlessly stare out the window, wondering how to restart your life. 

Years passed by, and your body had taken up a permanent residence on the floor next to the windowsill. A rope dangled down from the curtain rod, it’s frayed end stoic in the silent house. The other half was knotted loosely around your neck and had become a part of your body over time. Your body was slumped at an inhumane angle that it had remained at for years. You knew he wasn’t coming home and you believed that living alone was the worst future of all. You laid peacefully on the floor, your body splayed out as if on display. You no longer worried about what his mood might be that night, or if he would even come home for dinner. The silence surrounded you, as you laid there in the small, empty home.

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