Once this house was the pride and joy of a newlywed couple. A brand new house in a brand new subdivision. He did home improvement jobs and I think she would have been happy to see what he had made. The landscape started with a few scrawny trees, but over time flourished as they added more and more. She had a little scented rose garden out beside the bedroom door. They raised their two boys to be good kids, diligent students, church-going, Boy Scouts. There are little hand prints in the corner of the cement walkway.
I imagine her life here, friendly with the neighbors, spending her time volunteering at the boys’ school and church. Since he liked to hunt so much, I suppose he brought the boys up to enjoy the sport too, often spending the weekends in the mountains, bringing their prizes back to show her.
But what was it like for her when they were gone? What did she do? Who did she turn to? I like to think that she got a break from the noise and mess of raising sons. Endless laundry, cooking, and cleaning. Probably she didn’t get much help in that department. Was she lonesome? Was the house too quiet? Did she cry alone? Or maybe it wasn’t much different from other times, when they ignored her, expected things done without really thinking about how they got done. Was he mean to her? Did she have an affair?
Outside the door to the garage, there is a little pencil message saying, “I hope Mom comes home soon.” I picture a boy locked out of the house, lonely and scared. It breaks my heart. She left, one day, just walked out the door. None of the neighbors have told us why, maybe they don’t know.
We met him a few times. He seemed sad, evasive, like he just wanted away from here too. There was a portrait of the two of them hanging by the front door. I looked deep into her eyes to see if I could find a melancholy, but they just looked like your typical happy couple. I still get mail addressed to Cheryl, just a magazine subscription card or a church newsletter. Where is she?
Does your house have stories?
I read too much.