I gasp for air through fused transparent steel. Darkened windows with black tattered blankets hide the sunlight from my chilled core. Labored breath struggles within cavernous spaces leaving only a frosty mist. Floorboards tremble with growing pains, and my aching frame moans in shattering silence. In the darkest part of time, I weep sticky tears and hold my breath. There is no one around that will hear.
Intermittent and weak, my blood throbs through wooden flesh bringing a flicker of light to those who take asylum in my punctured and stained walls. They leave for me infected needles, smoldering pans, sheets soaked with urine and blood, and feasting rodents that lacerate my being with sharp teeth in search of a quicker path or a better meal.
House for sale or trade, talk to Henry at the General Store
"That house has quite a history," said Henry as he loaded a bag of horse feed on the back of my pickup.
"Old Mr. Step used to live there when he was factory supervisor. About ten years ago. His wife got pneumonia and died. Poor little Cindy, losing her mother like that. He eventually hooked up with Martha...ya know, that seamstress that lived in the little trailer on Main Street with her two devil daughters. Mr. Step and the soon to be Martha Step skipped town. Good riddance, I say. Took the trailer and the three girls. Think they headed out west. Mr. Step sold the place to me, but with this store, I haven’t had much time for it."
I was looking for an investment really. Something to buy and fix up. I was wondering how much Henry was wanting or what he was willing to take as a trade.
"Have you gotten any offers yet," I asked just to feel him out.
"Well, some time ago, a right handsome couple came through town and offered me a glass casket and a hook prosthesis but ain't nobody wanting that sort of grim finery. But I mostly get offers like magic beans, fairy powder, apples, spindles and talking crickets - not enough for a house though. I'm not that hard up yet."
He wiped his dusty hands across his apron and examined my reaction before he justified his statement, "It may be a bit rundown, but it’s still in pretty good shape. It has a small wood shop with puppet parts and some rabbit holes in back, but it’s all fixed up real nice. I ran those squatters out and did quite a bit a cleaning up. She's a good house."
"Well, Henry, " I said, waiting for a look or comment to sway the proposal that was going to spill from my lips in a alternate direction. "Henry, I'll offer you two horses and a top o’ the line, fully loaded, barely used, white carriage." I took a breath and waited for a full belly laugh and a wave goodbye.
sq.ft. 4BR, 1BA,
new tile, paint,
Lake area, $75K,
Alexander Rello opened the Binding Crystal Shoe Factory in 1989 with the inheritance left to him by his grandmother, the heiress to the Binding Shoe fortune. When he bought the factory three years before, he also bought the small gray house less than a block away. Alexander, along with the best carpenters and craftsmen money could buy, remodeled the small house with trees from the lot and the sweat from his brow for the Rello family to live in.
Alexander, with his wife Crystal and their seven children, moved into the little house in 1988. The oldest child, Alexander II, who most often went by Zander, began to emulate his father by putting in the finishing touches after his thirteenth birthday, the day his father gave him his own hammer and chisel. He was the only son and was expected to learn the craft of carpentry - it was a Rello tradition.
Zander was diligent in his effort to make the little house radiant. He spent most of his life building and adding and repairing. He manicured the hedges that lined the path to the front porch. He sanded and carved the oak for the double front doors and commissioned the molded brass handles, hinges and Rello family crests. He planned and whittled intricate swirly designs in the wooden wainscoting that lined the hallways and hand built stairwells. He nailed, punched, puttied and painted the trim throughout. He sanded, scraped, filed, cut, measured and screwed. He sliced his skin here and cut a finger there, and his ancestry flowed from him and pooled in the grain and creases, forever sealing his destiny.
Zander gently carved his name in the mantle. As flames flickered and licked at the lips of the fireplace, the word Zanderello glowed from below. Zander listened to the house whisper in his ear, softly speaking her love for him as he polished her most delicate and fragile adornments.
I often wonder how you are so selfless with me. Just now, I realize how privileged I am to have you. In your shoes, I would not have stepped foot past the weeded gate and deadened twisted arms of oak when the family left. Your love is so absolute and pure, like the beautiful person you are. You always accepted me for what I was, willing to sacrifice everything for me. I don’t deserve a guardian like you.
Your gentle touch has opened my eyes, and I realize that I love you more than I can say. I don’t know how many lifetimes it will take to make up for all the lost time, to repay the kindness and endless love you’ve shown me.
The little gray house on Pumpkin Street rested in the shadow of the long forgotten Binding Crystal shoe factory. Gone were the days of spewing thick black cotton balls of smoke from the surrounding dormant concrete smokestacks and drunken factory workers stumbling from the watering hole to their cars. The chaos of industry thrived on Pumpkin Street a dozen or so years ago and tainted Zander Rello's blood.
After the Rello family moved out and away and after the shoe factory went bankrupt, Zander continued to care for his beloved home. He kept her up and maintained her as the best house in a nonexistent neighborhood.
As he cleaned the chimney one fall day, Zanderello held him close inside her. She collected all her warmth to repay him for his devotion and squeezed him tight. As the ashes in the fireplace glowed and sparked, Zander began to choke on the soot falling from above. His shoes melted away and his flesh began to smolder. Zander's cries were never heard because he loved her too.