Love Don’t Live Here Anymore – Writing Challenge

Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts. Describe the ghosts that live in this house: Image credit: “love Don’t live here anymore…” – © 2009 Robb North – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

 

Love lived here. That was a long time ago, judging by the people that have come and gone since then, but most of the time it feels like just yesterday. To me, it often feels as if time hasn’t passed at all, and he’s still sitting in the chair next to me. The night of our wedding was beautiful. We were married in a little church surrounded by close friends and family. We couldn’t afford much, but we were happy and never needed much. We didn’t have the money for a honeymoon, so we moved into our new little home after leaving the church that night. Our family and friends wished us well, and then it was just us for the rest of our lives. The house was small, but that was part of its charm. We had two old chairs passed down by my grandmother, and we put them next to each other in front of our window in the living room. Actually, that’s all we could fit in the living area, but we enjoy the intimacy of the tiny room. It quickly became our favorite place to be. We would sit effortlessly beside each other for hours every night until we would go to bed together. In the summer, we would spend our weekends outside. Henry would plant vegetables, while I worked on my flowers. I loved this time of year, especially because of how playful Henry was in the warm weather. We would often cool down with a glass of homemade lemonade, and Henry would always swear that it was the best drink he had ever had. I would remind him that it was the exact same drink he had the day before, but he would just smile and say, “No, it’s way better!” Oh, that smile. We didn’t fight often, but when we did, all he had to do was flash a smile at me and I completely forgot what we were fighting over. All anger just disappeared. I suppose that’s why I fell in love with him so quickly – I was so stubborn, and he was so brilliant. I was a dark night, and he was the fireworks in my sky. The memories are beautiful and sad, especially in the winter. I don’t remember why we didn’t have children. I suppose it was my fault. Nevertheless, we looked forward to many years of growing old together – years that were stolen from us. I don’t remember how old I was when I died. I don’t know how I died. I was not in my youth, but I was robbed of many years from beloved husband, this much I know. The last thing I can remember was sitting next to him while he flipped through a magazine. Henry jumped up suddenly, the fear in his eyes still haunts me, as he screamed my name over and over. “Anne! Anne!” And that’s it. That was the last thing I recall. I do not know if I was sick. I do not know if it was sudden. I do not know if I was screaming or slumped over or already dead. I felt no pain, no fear…just pure anguish over my dear husband’s distorted face. For all I know, a mass murderer or a bear or a tornado ripped through our home. But I will never know, because Henry never spoke of it. After I died, I couldn’t leave him. Not yet, anyway. I had to be near him, to bring him comfort, to see how he was doing. If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I knew leaving him alone would be best for him. He needed to move on just as much as I did. But like I said, I was stubborn, and although my intentions were genuine in the beginning, it soon became an addiction to me, and I stayed for selfish reasons. I couldn’t leave him alone, because I couldn’t be without him. It’s a strange thing, to admit that you purposely haunted the man you loved after you died, but that’s exactly what I did. He talked to me, but he rarely looked at me. He couldn’t see me most of the time, but when he drank enough or went days without sleep, I could swear he was looking me right in the eyes. Maybe when he was closest to death, he felt me the most. When Henry was sober, he would tell me about the weather and current events, and when he was drunk, he would tell me how much he missed me. But never gave any kind of hint or indication how I died. He never even said my name. That could have been one of the reasons I stayed. I wanted to hear him whisper my name, just one more time. I craved it more than anything. One day, when he was sober, he got a phone call. He left home for 2 weeks. I’ll never know where he was or what he did, but he came back looking younger and healthier than ever. Perhaps I was slowly killing him. If I had loved him more, I would have left. Right then and there, I would have walked away and never looked back. But I didn’t, and he never moved out of the house, so maybe he still needed me just as much as I still needed him. He eventually slipped into his old ways. The day he took his own life was unspeakable, although I know I’m the one responsible for his death. His last words were, “I love you forever, Anne.” He was looking directly at me, and he flashed a dazzling smile. After he was gone, it was time for me to go. I had no reason to stay, there was no one keeping me here. But I didn’t. I couldn’t leave our home because leaving meant losing the precious memories we shared. Eventually, a child moved in with her parents, but I scared her, so they left. I never intended to scare her away, but I didn’t exactly want a child in my home, either. Not when I was never given the chance to have that. I would have never hurt her, and I loved her bright smile. She reminded me of my Henry. Maybe our daughter would have looked just like her. But it was too painful to watch her grow, and I realized I couldn’t properly mourn my lover and our life together when there was new life in our home, so I would watch her intently until they finally left. When they were gone, I realized how distracted I had been by them. It was quite a while before another family moved in, and I was both lonely and grateful for the silence. A young couple moved in, and they didn’t have children, but they were so in love that it hurt even more than the first family. They were more difficult to get rid of, because it’s much easier for a child to feel or see my presence, but I was relentless. They left abruptly one night, and it seemed like years passed before anyone came by to see the house again. It may have just been days. My concept of time is different now. Nevertheless, an older couple finally moved in. They didn’t like each other very much. I enjoyed them immensely. One day, the husband brought home a parrot. They named him Henry. For obvious reasons, I made sure they were gone the next day. Dozens of families moved in and moved out, but they were all wrong for my home. Eventually, they stopped coming. These days, it’s just me and this old house, but I think if that older couple came back, I would let them stay. I would even let Henry the parrot stay, if it meant someone to talk to. I could call him Hank, I suppose. Or maybe I would leave for good. But no one comes by, not even to visit or look at the house, and I’m not sure if that makes me happy or sad. I can barely remember who I was before I became who I am today. I seem to question a lot of things lately. But all I know for sure is that I see my Henry everywhere, and he haunts me intensely, much more than I ever haunted him. His radiant smile shines vividly, blinding my darkness, and it is pure torture. Love lived here many years ago, but love don’t live here anymore.

Lauralee H.

 

 

— This short story is purely from my imagination. I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t believe people can stay on the earth after they die, and I certainly don’t believe in dark stories like this one. It was a writing challenge from WordPress that I accepted because I have never written anything like this before. Most of my stories have common challenges but they usually have a happy ending. Think Nicholas Sparks. I truly enjoyed writing this because I enjoy challenging myself, but I don’t plan on writing stories like this again. —

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