VISITING

You are now in front of the house. It is huge, and you know it well. You know every corner, all the floors, all the rooms. You can naturally find your way inside it; even in the apparent chaos you can remember the location of everything you need in there. All in all, the house is a familiar and comforting sight to you. The corners of your lips go up just a little as you approach the front door; it opens easily at the slightest touch. For you, this house is never locked, even if sometimes the door does get a little rusty. No one else can enter, and you feel proud of it. If someone ever goes inside, it is because you chose to let that person in.

Immediately after you step in, the things inside the house spring to life, happy to see you there with them. They run towards you, they compete for attention, for a few words, for anything you can give them. You created them, after all, you gave them their shape, their characteristics; and now they want to grow, to develop, and maybe go outside the house for a bit. They are your ideas, your plans, and sometimes your memories as well. Usually, when you visit, it is because one of them is about to get bigger; and knowing it only makes them more excited.

But today you came for something else. You go straight to the stairs; and as you go up, climbing step after step and floor after floor, you are greeted by more energetic bubbles of thoughts. They are not as well developed as the ones on the first living room, though – some were forgotten as time passed and you changed, some are so modified and so obscure you can't quite remember what they stood for – and are nothing more than a blur of colours, a reminder of their past significance. To see them like this is probably a sad thing, but you know it was necessary and, at the end of the day, inevitable.

You are almost there now, just one more set of stairs to go. But you stop before climbing the first step and look back at the tense atmosphere you are about to leave behind. On this floor no one came to greet you, there were no happy little things moving about or blurry shapes passing by. This is the place where your nastiest memories, your ugliest thoughts and your most unforgivable ideas are kept. You want to forget them, so you hide them here, keeping them out of sight as you walk across their floor. You know that someday they will be out again causing mayhem inside and outside the house, but now you don't really care. You just climb up.

You are in the upmost floor now. If you look through the window you can see just how much you have climbed. Your eyes shine with pride at the sight, for you alone built this house, you alone made it this big. The last floor has just one corridor, a vey long and narrow one. At the moment it is all dark, except for the little lights under the many doors on each side of the walls. The reason you came here is to take a look at the people living on the other side of those doors. You also know them well – how could you not? – And most of them make the best company.

The first door to the left is the room of a very interesting child, one with big blue eyes and messy ash-blond hair who is almost always playing outside, discovering new things and more often than not getting into trouble for it. The child's name is Curiosity, but even after all those years knowing each other and sharing experiences you still can't tell whether it is a boy or a girl whom you are talking to. Curiosity has the brightest smile, the happiest face and the sharpest mind you could ever put in a body that appears to be no more than six years old. But of course, being a child, Curiosity doesn't like to play alone; and so there are many friends out there who enjoy Curiosity's company and the child's discovery of the outside world.

One of those friends is Creativity. She looks no older than twelve; her body is thin behind the colourful but simple summer dress. Her skin is slightly tanned, a reminder of the long afternoons running around under the hot sun while giving shape to her many ideas. She likes Curiosity very much; their rooms are next to each other and they spend an awful lot of time together, be it outside or inside the house. Creativity wears glasses, and it is said that whenever she loses them she loses her sense of self.

To the other side of the corridor, in front of Curiosity's room, is the door most feared by everyone: Strict lives there, and she doesn't like it when things get out of control around her. She looks old, easily more than fifty years have stained that ugly face of hers, giving her wrinkles and moles and the nasty smile of the sadistic governess she actually is. No noise, no parties; nothing out of the ordinary is allowed in her presence. She was born not only to follow the rules, but also to make sure everyone does so as well. Luckily the lights are off on her door, meaning she probably went to sleep already.

You keep walking ahead, passing Creativity's door until you reach the door marked "Intelligence", the third on the left side. Intelligence's lights are on; he is probably working on an essay or reading one of his many books. He is a quiet guy, he thinks too much, speaks too little. Like Creativity he wears glasses, a white polo shirt, a blue necktie and blue trousers. His hair is neat, dark-brown in colour, a startling contrast with his pale skin. Upon seeing him you always wonder if it wouldn't be better if he got out more to enjoy the sun – but then you remember that he has been out quite a lot recently, and even then he would rather lock himself in the library than play outside with his friends. Intelligence is the type of guy who can get along with everybody: with Creativity's help he becomes the great writer, the great designer, the useful "know-it-all"; with Strict he produces all types of academic essays, research and even dissertations.

The next door to the left is Humility's door. The lights are off, which is not a surprise for you. Humility is a nine-year-old girl, her looks and personality are not really worth mentioning – there is nothing special about her. She doesn't go out much – you haven't seen her for a while, shouldn't that be troubling you by now? Maybe… or maybe not. You know that Pride is responsible for whatever happens to Humility.

Pride. He lives right across from Humility, on the fourth door to the right. The two of them were supposed to grow up together balancing each other out, but before you knew it Pride had taken control of Humility and forced her to stay in her room while he went off to show his prowess to the world. Pride is no child; he somehow grew up until he was twice Humility's age. You are so used to seeing his messy red hair and taunting smirk that you actually feel lonely on those rare occasions he retreats to his room.

It is at times like this that you get to see Humility. She waits until she is sure Pride is not looking, and runs outside to enjoy the fresh air and the simple things of life outside one's room. Humility has many friends, everyone likes her, but when it is up to them to challenge Pride for her freedom no one really wants to take the risk. Pride can be quite scary; if he gets hurt no one knows what he is truly capable of.

The (green) lights are on in Fun's room. He lives next door to Humility, and his very colourful room is always noisy; be it from the loud music he listens to while jumping on the bed or from his hideous singing, one-sided dialogues and obnoxious laughing. Of course, this is when he is inside his room. Like Pride, Fun is almost always outside. Getting him inside again is always very troublesome… you not only need Strict, but also Responsibility and sometimes even Opportunism to get the job done. Fun has tanned skin, brown eyes and a wide range of haircuts to show off every time he goes outside. His smile is carefree and happy. Although he is already eighteen years old, he is not becoming an adult anytime soon.

The next door is Optimism's. His twin, Pessimism, lives across from him, sixth door to the right. Even though they are identical twins you never see them together, not outside the house. Optimism and Fun are best friends, they are always together. Pessimism, on the other hand, likes to stay away from the world where things can easily go wrong, only going out when forced to, when Depression and Despair drag him. The twins both have shoulder-length brown hair, brown eyes and are not yet nineteen, but where Optimism has a warm smile and positive attitude; Pessimism wears a sullen face and an extremely cynic view of the world.

Depression and Despair are Pessimism's neighbours, respectively living behind the seventh door and the eighth. They also don't go out much, but when they do they make sure that everyone knows it. They lock up Fun and Optimism, shut up Creativity and Curiosity and make Innocence cry. Pessimism follows them around, and sometimes they bring Sadness along too, or Opportunism, if he feels like it. Once they are out, it is impossible to tell when they will be back. What usually ends up happening is that Fun and Optimism find a way to break free, forcefully drag them back, and lock them up so they won't cause any more trouble.

As for Sadness, well, Sadness is Optimism's neighbour. The girl is no older than thirteen and almost never gets out of her room. In fact, her door is locked from the inside and the lights are always off. Whenever possible, she likes to be by herself and avoids troubling people. There are times, however, when not even her strong will is enough to keep her inside; when she feels that sudden urge to get out, and let go… When that happens, she runs like mad to the front of the house, tears streaming down her face like a cascade of salty water. She finally stops under a certain tree in the garden, sits on her knees and cries silently until there are no more tears.

It is Optimism who always comes to her rescue. Being her neighbour, he knows when she is about to get out. He can feel it, even if he is outside. When she cries, he goes to his room and looks at her from his window, waiting. When the time is right he will go to the garden, take Sadness in his arms, and bring her back to her room. Optimism puts her in bed, covering her gently so that she will feel warmer soon. He sits in a chair beside the bed, caressing her hair and holding her hands until she finally falls asleep. Optimism then kisses Sadness' forehead, and silently exits the room.

You pass in front of a few more doors: Shyness, Bravery, Spirituality, Affection, Apathy… their lights are on, but they don't seem to notice you. Responsibility's door is to your left and the one on your right is Opportunism's. Surprisingly, Responsibility's lights are off. You stare at his door trying to understand what is going on; you are not used to seeing these lights off. But after a while you get it. Poor Responsibility must be exhausted after a whole day spent checking the other rooms and making sure no one is breaking the internal agreements. His job is basically to balance everyone out, preventing Fun from spending too much time outside when Intelligence or Strict have to be out as well. He also has to keep Strict's temper in check, preventing her from being too controlling. He tries to guide Creativity, argue with Opportunism, and even calm down Anger. You are grateful he is there; your life would probably be even more chaotic if he wasn't. So, silently, you pass his door, allowing him the rest he so much deserves.

You look at Opportunism's door and raise an eyebrow; his lights are also off. You remember he has a habit of sneaking up upon people. You don't ever see him until he is right behind you, which might be a little odd considering how tall he actually is. He follows you wherever you go, but only reveals his presence when he sees fit. So you turn around, just to see the giant teen standing there and grinning at you. Although you don't speak to each other, you find it quite hard not to smile back at the feigned innocence of the nineteen year-old. He steps forward and opens his door, never really looking away from you or diminishing his grin.

You leave Opportunism behind when he enters his room. You keep walking forward, crossing the last half of the corridor with ease. Rebellion, Obsession, Romance, Drama… you pass countless doors until only three remain: Laziness to the right, Innocence to the left, and one last door in front of you. You smile; at last your journey has ended. First, you step to the right; wondering what Laziness could be doing at a time like this. You know the girl well enough. She takes forever to get out, and takes forever to get back in. She is in her early twenties, but behaves like a child most of the time. You have never seen her wearing anything but her pyjamas, and you can only wonder when was the last time she brushed her long hair. Despite all this she is actually a very nice person who knows how to truly make the best out of Sunday mornings.

And then there is Innocence. Like Curiosity, you still don't know whether the six year-old is male or female. For a moment, you wonder if you should knock on the door. It has been a while since you last saw the child. You miss the little thing and wish (s)he would come out more often. Yet, you know it is not going to happen just because you want it so. In your early days, Innocence and Curiosity were often seen together exploring the world. In fact, in the very beginning there were just the two of them to keep you company. You were best friends and did everything together. Then the others came along. As time passed, the narrow corridor expanded to give them room as you experienced new things. You saw Innocence less and less those days, but you were so excited about the new people you were meeting that you paid little attention. Only now do you feel a twinge of regret. As you notice the faint light shining behind the child's door, the only thing you can do is hope that it is not too late, and that you will be able to see Innocence again soon.

There is only one door left now, centred at the end of the hallway. This door is special, just like the couple living behind it. The first time you saw them – when the corridor was still very short and Curiosity and Innocence were showing you their rooms – they didn't say a word. It took you years to understand who they were and what they stood for. The woman is dark-skinned, but her hair is completely white, and she is always dressed in white as well. She is usually smiling, and her smile makes you feel safe and warm. Her appearance suggests she is no older than twenty, but you know she is in fact much older. The same is true for her partner; they are both much older than the house they live in. The man's skin is pale, but his hair, eyes and clothes are all black. He is usually grinning, and his grin gives you the creeps.

It took you years to realise that this mysterious couple is the foundation the house is built on, the pillars that keep it standing, the real coordinators of the everything in the house. They never leave it, and they are never apart. Good and Evil coordinate everything from the inside by influencing the people and the ideas that live with them. They balance each other out and in the end one might become more influential than the other, but their existence will never end. They were there before the house was built and they will be there long after it is gone.

So this is it: this is what you came here for. Your visit to the house ends after a long talk with the couple, in which they both give you valuable advice. You don't really want to leave, but you can't stay in the house forever. Once outside you take one last look at the imposing building behind you, where your friends are already back to their normal lives: Opportunism is observing you from his window, Pride is admiring his face in front of a mirror and Hyper and Fun are singing completely out of key with Drama and Romance as their back vocals. (Un)Fortunately Strict's orders are not loud enough to make them stop. You then see Curiosity running towards you and you take the child in your arms. You are ready to go now.


A/N: Did you like it? Well, if you did there is more stuff related to "Visiting" on my Deviantart. Check the link on my profile. =D

James Hiwatari