|The Green House
Author: Stephlikeswriting PM
One house can hold many families, and just because a new one moves in doesn't mean the old one is gone completely.Rated: Fiction K - English - Supernatural/Hurt/Comfort - Words: 2,421 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 05-16-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3022954
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Green House
"It's beautiful," the woman said as she smiled at her husband. A new husband who had made her a new wife, and they were about to move into their first new home together. The husband smiled back. They reached for each other's hands and started into the house, ready to start their new life together.
Perhaps it wasn't really a beautiful house; a one story home surrounded by woods and painted a slightly sick and fading shade of green, with tiny windows that made the small place look oddly large. Obviously it wasn't new. Not ancient, but it was easy to see that the loose shingles on the roof hadn't been tended to in a while. Still, it was new to them, and they were new to each other, and that made everything beautiful.
The boy doesn't remember ever living anywhere else except the small green house near the woods. He's always been curious to explore those woods, but he doesn't go outside much. He did, a while ago, when he was well.
He watches as the woman puts her dishes into the kitchen cabinets. She has brown hair that reminds him of his mother's, and the first time he saw her, for one heart-stopping moment he thought she was. Until the man, her husband, who followed her into the house was blonde and too tall and obviously not his father. Then he noticed that the woman's hair was too short anyway, and her clothes too neat and her voice too low. They seemed nice, but the boy was disappointed. They got a dishwasher installed shortly after they arrived. Painted the walls a different color and ripped up the old linoleum floors and replaced them with fancy tile for what he heard the woman describe as a 'modern look.'
The boy slinks back to his room. Maybe if he keeps playing, the wait won't seem so long.
The wife pushed her long brown hair out of her face as she kneaded the bread. She was sweating and uncomfortable but she needed to do something other than lie around all day, listening to the radio and reading old books that made no sense to her. And God, she thought to herself as she glanced at the pile of doughy bowls that sat in the sink. What she wouldn't do for one of those fancy machines that washed your dishes for you.
"Eva, dear, what is all this?"
She turned around to look at her husband. He was holding his brown briefcase in his left hand and must have slipped through the side door without her noticing. He looked back at her inquisitively, setting his briefcase on the floor.
"I'm making bread, William," she told him, pushing a sweaty lock of hair out of her face with a floury hand.
He walked over to her and laid a hand on her round stomach. "Just don't push yourself, okay?"
"I just want to do something productive," she said, almost like a plea.
He kissed her on the forehead. "You are."
When they bring home the baby it has light skin and light hair. The boy doesn't quite know what to make of it. It's loud and it cries and when he watches it and it cries harder. It scares him.
The mother's hair is longer and her clothes aren't as neat, but he thinks it's nicer on her. She sits in the rocking chair in the corner at night and rocks and rocks as the baby screams in her arms. The father does, too, other nights, but the boy likes it better when the mother is there.
The baby grows and he quietly watches and learns. The little boy's hair darkens but it is still blonde; his cheeks are naturally rosy but rosier when he's upset. His name is Davy, short for David, his father's name. He has many toys, but he tires of them and bores quickly.
Maybe, the boy hopes, they'll play together one day. When Davy's a little older.
The wife and her husband loved their baby to pieces. More than anything they had ever loved before, more than each other. He was tiny and perfect and had his father's jet black hair. He cried a lot, but all babies cry, and his mother and father took turns rocking him to sleep at night. His mother always sang and stayed a little longer.
They were a happy family, and instead of baking bread the mother was raising a family and it felt right to her. She told her husband she wanted more.
"Once the baby's old enough," he said, and she supposed he was right. Her baby was perfect and she shouldn't be hasty.
The baby got older, and he learned to crawl and then to walk, and his mother took him into the backyard on sunny days while his father was at work. They planted flowers around their green house and walked along the edge of the woods. His mother cherished this time because she knew her sweet rosy-cheeked little boy would be going to off school soon. But there was always the promise of another.
The wife and husband would smile at each other, or hold hands in bed, or just catch each other's eyes sometimes, and they felt so lucky.
The second baby is on the way now, and the boy feels that maybe he should stop watching. Davy needs a friend for when the baby comes and his parents are busy tending to it instead of him.
One night, when the baby is set to arrive any day now, Davy is busy playing with his toys. The boy knows that now is the perfect chance, before the baby is here and before Davy loses interest. He takes a silent step from the corner.
Davy looks up when he notices that his toy train has moved. The boy meets his eyes and holds the train out in his small hand. He is nervous; he hasn't had a friend in so long. He smiles shyly. "Want to play?" he asks Davy. His voice feels strange and foreign.
Davy only stares. Then his mouth opens and the scream that pierces the air is shrill and so utterly terrified that that boy drops the train and flees.
The new baby is born the next day.
The boy cried. He cried and cried. His cheeks burned red and it terrified his mother. She stopped taking him out to plant flowers in the afternoon and started putting him to bed early. Her husband told her he'd sleep it off. She told herself he'd sleep it off. They didn't look at each other and ate dinner in silence.
Spring turned to summer, which turned to fall, and the years passed and he was okay at times. He went to school. Then one fall he did not go back to school. The crying started again and didn't stop, from the sickness and the pain. His red cheeks were not plump and rosy but burning and gaunt. It pained his parents to look at him but they couldn't and wouldn't look away. They counted every time he blinked his tired eyes and looked back at them.
His mother would run her hand through his hair whenever the fever burned too high and the pain was too much. His hair so much like his father's; the color, the feel of it. She would sing, and his father would take his small body into his arms even though he should have been far too big for that by then.
Near the end, his mother would sleep in his bed with him at night. Keep her arms around him as he shivered, keep him safe from the sickness that raged inside of him. Why would this happen, she asked herself as she listened to his breathing at night. Beautiful rhythms that nothing else, no kind of worldly music, would ever compare to. It was as much his lifeline as hers. Only when it stopped, she kept going. Her perfect boy.
She and her husband didn't have any others.
The new baby is darker, has darker hair and darker eyes that are big and wide. These eyes look right into the little boy's. The baby doesn't cry but blinks, puts her fingers in her mouth and looks at the next thing that catches her attention. Her name is Rebecca.
Davy still cries sometimes, insists on sleeping in his parent's bed at night, but the boy thinks he's starting to forget. Always forgotten, always left alone. He doesn't go near Davy much anymore.
The days grow longer, then shorter, then longer again, and shorter. Not that the boy particularly notices. Rebecca grows and so does Davy. One day the boy watches Davy's mother measuring him. She marks his height with a pencil on his bedroom wall.
"A whole half an inch since last time," she says proudly once they're finished, ruffling Davy's hair. Davy stands up even straighter and puffs his chest out slightly. His mother laughs and tells him there are cookies in the kitchen for such tall boys. Davy grins excitedly and follows her out of the room.
Once the room is quiet, the boy walks over to the mark on the wall. He flattens a hand on the top of his head, over his jet black hair, and steadily brings it to the wall. His hand comes just above the mark. He doesn't really remember his own mother measuring him, but he bets she did. And then she made him cookies, and she was prouder than a mother could be, and so was his father, and so was he.
The boy drops his hand to his side; the same small hand it's always been.
The wife and husband moved out of their little green house three weeks later.
Their lives here were nothing but memories now. The certain way the light fell in the kitchen on a Sunday morning, the whispers of the trees against the roof on a breezy summer evening. There was nothing here but him, their perfect little boy, and he was gone forever.
The wife clutched her bag in her hands. It was heavy and solid but she wouldn't have been able to say what was inside it for the life of her. She averted her eyes from the front door that she used every day, the steps that he was too small to use so she pulled him up by the hands. Her eyes instead fell on the mounds of dirt along the edges of the house that have long been barren of the flowers they once planted there. Dead and brown and cold. She looked away from the empty ground and at her husband who stood beside her.
His hair was still black, but not as dark as it used to be. It was the first thing she noticed the first time she met him; his hair and how shiny and neat and black it was, the blackest hair she'd ever seen on a person, and she thought it was beautiful. Their son inherited his hair and she was thrilled. But now her husband's hair was fading. She never thought that she would be glad to see it go.
Her husband looked back at her and quietly took her hand. It was warm but she felt nothing. She couldn't stand being near this house any longer, where every room, every smell, every creak of every door, was him. He was farther away than he could ever be, yet he walked those halls.
Her husband tugged on her hand and she couldn't help but glance at the house once more, to hang on for one more moment. Her eye caught on one of the tiny windows and her heart nearly stopped.
"Eva?" her husband said when her heard her gasp. She clutched his hand. "William! He- there- in the window- I saw Eli- it was him- " she started. Her husband looked at her. Her eyes were wide and she was pointing at the window of his old room. He looked away.
"Eva, come on," he said, giving her hand a gentle pull. "No- no, William, listen to me," She looked at him. Her eyes were red and wild. "Eli was there!" Her voice was strained and shrill. A spear pierced his ruined heart.
"There's no one there," he said quietly, trying to sound comforting and now hollow. "The house is empty."
The wife looked at the house one more time. She saw nothing in the window. Her husband was right, the house was empty. They walked away hand in hand until they reached their old gray car. They drove away in silence.
The boy stands in the corner of the kitchen. Rebecca sits in the chair across the table from him with a chocolate chip cookie her mother has just given her. Davy is at school, and it is these times that the boy likes best. Rebecca sees him standing there. She smiles and splits the cookie in half.
For the first time since he was well, the boy thinks he might have found a friend. She is not a baby anymore and she is still small, but at least she doesn't scream and cry at the sight of him. Like Davy, like his mother. No, this girl smiles at him. Sometimes he is brave enough to play with her.
Rebecca's mother turns around from where she's preparing an early dinner at the stove and catches her daughter as she places half of her cookie on the other side of the table. She puts her hands on her hips. "Now what are you doing?" she asks, raising a playful eyebrow. Rebecca plops back down in her chair and looks at her mother and says, "Sharing."
The mother walks over and ruffles Rebecca's short dark hair and kisses her on the forehead. "Well, what a good little girl you are," she says. "You're sharing with your friend?" Rebecca nods "Eli's hungry," she replies matter-of factly. Davy and Rebecca's mother knows about him, almost.
The boy smiles back at Rebecca as her mother returns to her cooking. He enjoys moments like these, listening to the content sounds of pots rattling and oil sizzling on the stove, and it reminds him of times from long ago. His own mother with her long hair pulled back as she baked bread at the same oven and his dad coming home carrying his old brown briefcase.
Rebecca finishes her cookie and hops down from her chair. The boy follows her out of the kitchen and into her bedroom. She sits down to play with the toys. The boy is about to pick up a doll when he hears the sound of a car outside.
He looks outside and sees a gray car and for one heart-stopping moment he thinks it's them, but then a blonde boy gets out of the back seat. He realizes it's only Davy being dropped off from school. And the car is too shiny and sleek and foreign. Davy walks to the front door and the car pulls away and disappears down the road. The boy keeps watching, always a little sad. But then Rebecca calls him back.