I am called Crawford. I remember when I came to being, when my foundation was set, and the Missus first stepped on my base boards. There was joy in her heart, and that joy filled me. Every brick laid, every piece of timber held her excitement and anticipation. Although the Master was technically the one that made me, I was created only with the Missus in mind. I was supposed to be her dream home, the place where she would raise their family, and live out their days. Even the property that it was set on was perfect. There was a lake some distance behind me, and a grove to my eastern fields. Grass grew everywhere, and wildflowers sprung up without provocation. I remember the way the little Miss shrieked with happiness, even before I was completely up and livable. Even now, I can't quite tell you how many days it took, but I knew that with every one, I was getting closer to having my family inside me.
When I was finally complete, and all my furniture was in place, I stood up straight, tall, and proud. I was finally to be everything I was destined to. Missus cried as she looked around, and little Miss ran through my hallways, although her nanny told her not to. I tried to do my best to look strong when the Master came in. As he walked up my stairs, I made sure not to creak; as he touched my wooden walls, I radiated warmth. I wanted to make sure he knew that I would protect his family and keep them safe.
Everything was beautiful inside me. The little one would run around, sneak down into the depths of my cellars and lay on the cold dark earth. I kept her secrets, and kept her fiery young skin cool. The Master and Missus, when they were together in the house, spent many a moment in each others embrace. I tried my best not to giggle as they made love in all of my different rooms. I also did my best to keep my floors steady each time the Missus was pregnant, and make my as easy on her feet as possible. She had many children, beautiful children that filled me with laughter and more joy. I loved sharing their growth, feeling their first pattering steps across my floors, feeling them eat in my kitchen, warm themselves at my fire, play with their pets. They grew inside me, and always called me home.
Until the Missus began to change; as the children grew up, the Missus grew sad. I did my best to keep her happy. Her feet never walked on cold floors unless it was warm outside and her feet needed it, when she cried, I absorbed her tears. Sometimes she wouldn't move, and I thought it was she that was the inanimate object, and I the sentinent being. The Master didn't know how sad she was, but I did. I never thought she was sad enough to hang herself in my drawing room. There was nothing I could do but feel her life force end, her sadness leaving and absorbing into me. The children and the Master felt the imprint of her pain the moment they walked in. The servant woman prayed softly to herself when she entered, and then almost passed out when she found the Missus.
I never recovered from the Missus' sadness, and neither did her two daughters. They slit their wrists in my bathtubs. Once more I was loaded with sadness. It was then that I began to creak, and my cellar began to grow mildew. I didn't mean to mourn, but I did, as did the family; they didn't want to be inside me, now while I cried, or my paint flaked. Master got his main possessions, his clothes, and pictures of the Missus. I never saw him again.
I don't know how time passed without the family inside me. The next time I saw my little ones, they were scowling adults that brought their own little ones. I did my best to straighten up, not to creak, but I didn't have that much control. No one had cared for me in so long that I couldn't help certain things. But the young ones found me fun, they slid down my banisters, and for a few minutes, filled me with laughter again. Even the children… now Master's and Missus' in their own respect, smiled in my rooms, sat near my fireplaces, went into my kitchens. The laughed, talking to their spouses about the good times, until they walked past my parlor, and felt the heaviness of death; their smiles stopped, they refused to enter, they called their children back and left again without a word. I didn't mean to have such dark memories, I didn't want them to feel that heaviness I tried my best to hide away, but they're pain brought it back out. They ushered their kids back out, even though I didn't want them to.
The next time I saw those children, they were adults, and they were looking at me like I was just a commodity. They wanted to sell me, but they didn't know anyone who would want me. I was old, and in shambles. The sad mildew smell that was once in only my basement had snuck into the furniture, and clothes. My windows had been left closed. The adults didn't want me, none of them wanted me be inside me. They say I smelled, and I blushed, they say I was haunted, and I wasn't sure if they were right. Sometimes I would feel the Missus and the daughters in my rooms, but they weren't the same as when they lived. They were sad, and trapped inside me; the little ones searched for the Missus, but they never found each other, which made me even sadder. I didn't know how much time had passed, or how many times I cried. My wood warped, mold was in my corners, but no living creatures would go inside me, not even bugs.
People tried to enter me, go inside me, but I refused to let them. I was rude to them. I'd give them nightmares, and the Missus would never let them stay, she would repeat her final moments, or sit and stare. I absorbed every moment of sadness just as I had the moments of joy, but, as far as I could remember, there had only been sadness. Time had stopped for me the moment that the family left me to rot.
I was resigned to my existence, to be left alone until I finally rotted away to nothingness, until she finally came in. When I saw her, I could tell that she was of the Master and Missus. She looked at me with a softness, and smiled as she touched my walls, just as my Missus had when she had seen me. She walked through the rooms, bringing with her a light I hadn't felt in… I don't know how long. I tried my best to stand straight, but I couldn't, and I tried to keep my floors from creaking, but they still did. She seemed to feel the same sadness everyone else had, but she took it, and kept going. She smiled at some of the left pictures, and looked at the wall where the children had been measured. I thought all hope was lost when she came to the parlor, and she saw the Missus hanging. But the young woman didn't leave; she clasped something around her neck, and closed her eyes until the Mistress dissipated. When she opened them again, she walked into the room and shed some tears. I thought she was going to add to the pain, but she didn't. It stayed the same.
She said something, rubbed one of my tables, and told me she was coming back. She loved she loved me. I didn't want her to leave; I could feel her lifting the darkness inside me. She said that she would return, come back to claim me as her own. I prayed that she was telling me the truth.
I don't know how much time has passed since she was with me, inside me. It's something that I could never judge; she could have left only minutes ago, or weeks ago. But rather than allow myself to stay defeated, I've rose to my full height. I cannot make the mildew and mold recede, but I can force it not to come any further. I believe this woman, my new Missus, will return me to the place of joy I was built to be.