A Haunted House

Cliff House, San Francisco, 1901.
Courtesy of the Cliff House Project.

The sultry honey aroma of wild apple trees haunts you, while the darkness of a tangy spring fog envelops the world. Fragile pearl threads stretch from the sky, penetrating the warmth of your skin, leaving dusky traces on the defenseless clothes. You run away, seeking shelter, and return to the house, a black shadow looming over your silhouette, over the luscious garden, over the whole Earth.

Inside!

Although the doors seem incredibly heavy, they yield to the lightness of your half-smile. What is there to smile for, escaping the darkness in the gloom’s numbing arms? Lurking in the dim hallway, momentarily turning away from the forces of nature to find protection from a fierce tempest, you are, nevertheless, being pulled deeper into the void, down to the very end of the unlit corridor. Then, obeying not even curiosity, no, rather some kind of silent inevitability, you sneak, filling the lungs with excruciatingly heavy clouds of dust and frantically exhaling moist, murky heat.

Light!

It seems that the sparks in the old fireplace have not died out yet, and the candles on the chandelier still shimmer with amber stars. Nonetheless, this is just an illusion with which you fill the devastation prevailing here. You see the lively children playing hide and seek, you hear their tender voices ringing with joy, you notice the lady who has peacefully fallen asleep in a dilapidated chair, you watch how the landlord himself greets the long-awaited guests. Imagining yourself among them, you can’t help feeling the piercing, forlorn invisibility. Desperately, you look in the dark mirror, twined with copper leaves of wild grapes. You become a ghost, losing your shape, disappearing in the somber glass.

Up!

Fearlessly, in a rush, you run further up the exhausted staircase, bringing rain on your velvet palms, while the golden pollen dozes on your eyelashes. The walls are completely bare, and once again, you fill them, becoming a solitary void. It seems that if (at least mentally) you breathe life into these dead rooms, you will break free from loneliness, fencing it off with a dense wall of poison ivy. However, you are still a ghost about to disappear into the suffocating embrace of the house. Cling to the pieces of life, to the shadowy portraits, to the smooth mahogany handrail, to the grave, faded wrinkles on the drawn curtains. On the solemn, abandoned desk, trace two words with your finger: “I exist.” And go, go away! The jet black arrows do not strike the roof any longer, the darkness does not thicken in the air, like a midnight haze.

“No!” –

You say to yourself. And the house responds with a hoarse, rough echo. After all, this darkness, these jet black arrows are within you, and soon you will be able to grasp why you revive this abandoned world, why you fill your lungs with the weight of decades. You freeze, hardly breathing, as the icy fingers of loneliness squeeze your wrist. Close your eyes and see – see, for the first time! You are not an ethereal ghost, but a house – this house, filled with memories. Your being seems empty, forgotten, saturated with loneliness, but deeper – look deeper, behind the husk of disturbing meaningless thoughts – there is no fear. There is a radiance – soft, muffled, eternal. And it is not afraid of neither loneliness, nor void, nor death. Even when you will be covered with moss, and the walls collapse, and the amber stars fade, this radiance is never going to leave; it will not disappear without a trace. Someone, believe me, surely someone will feel, like a weightless shadow, this radiance, finding in it -long-forgotten – a home, a shelter, and quietly, as you open your eyes clouded by ghostly tears, will whisper the words of gratitude.

Listen…

11 thoughts on “A Haunted House

  1. t shivers down my spine. We should learn from the past (and take what is/was good from it), but we have no alternative other than to live in the present. I sometimes wonder what would happen where I to spend the night, alone in Speke Hall, an old wattle and daube Tudor house in Liverpool, close to where my mum lives. It has a priest’s hole, where Catholic priests would hide and make their escape. I suspect that my imagination would play tricks on me and I would be driven half mad where I to stay, alone for a night in that place (although its a wonderful hall to visit by day and is maintined by the National Trust), a charity which preserves historic buildings and landscapes. Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Kevin, Thank you for telling me about Speke Hall; I found out that it also has a magnificent garden with two ancient yew trees – almost five centuries old! I would love to visit it one day! This story was inspired by English manor houses, and I’m glad it made you think about a familiar place. No doubt, staying at such an old building filled with the memories of a bygone era would be an eerie, yet memorable experience!
      Best Wishes, Veronica.

      Like

      1. My Pleasure! I Thank You for visiting my humble hermit blog and likeing so many of my writings! Your writings are BEAUTIFL. It’s like finding an oasis to the eyes of thirsty wayfarer in a desert. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. What a superfluous metaphor for my meek scribblings! Nevertheless, I happily accept it – the reader’s admiration is always a balm for the creative soul. ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Your writing is a jewel of your heart and a place of your mind! Great to find your awesome blog! I normally follow others, not do I want a follower, who just follows then drifts away because although I am a hobbyist amateru writer, I am serious about my writing. Your blog is worth subscribing! Pleased to meet you 🙂

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