• External Contributor

Empty house

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

I stared at the dining table. An assortment of dirty glasses and empty bottles were proof that there were people in the house; living and breathing, but in my loneliness, the memories felt more like a dream. They came and left again in a flurry of love and sound and movement. The house breathed again as someone entered and the house allowed sunshine to beam in through the windows. They stayed until their part was played. Then the house returned to its natural state. Motionless.

The windows and doors were all open, but even the air was still. I moved through the house in a way that also felt like a dream.

The house was so still and silent, that I felt guilty for breathing and disturbing its peace.

I remembered my friend’s words to me on the night I first gave into the feelings of loneliness that would invite even a stranger into the house that haunted me with its stillness.

“We pursue sex to fill either an emotional need or a physical one. Casual sex fills the emotional need in the moment, but then it’s gone in an instant and you feel worse than before.”

The words echoed through my head, reminding me that inviting a stranger in actually wouldn’t breathe life. It would be an imitation in those few minutes, then it would feel even emptier to me than before.

I knew it, and I ignored it.

He came into the house. He moved the empty bottles and the dirty glasses. He helped in that way to remove the old imitation of life but he added a new one in its place. He didn't alleviate the stillness in the house. He violated it. He moved the empty glasses, but he cut down the plants. He took off his shoes and walked dirty socks through the house that was only frequented by ghosts, and therefore, immaculate. He ate, he spilt, dropped rubbish on the floor.

He touched me. At first it was filling that emotional need. At first, I scoffed at those words echoing through my head and ridiculing my actions. This one was different. He didn't respect the emptiness of the house, but maybe that was a good thing. Maybe it was the life i was begging for to add excitement, movement and chaos. He moved through the belongings I had situated just so. He touched everything, slightly moving it and slightly moving me. It felt good. Then the touches turned from comforting to fearful and his tongue turned to fire on my skin instead of pleasant warmth.

He wasn't bringing life back into the house. He wasn't bringing life back to me.

He was chaotic, and he was mean. One impulse turned to compulsion. A hand on my arm turned to a grip of iron. His touch which started as tender, shattered and revealed aggression that was living inside it.

I smiled at his every word and endured every fiery touch until he left my house once again. As he shut the door, my façade crumbled. The house caught me as I fell. I lay on a rug, staring at a tiny stain. One imperfection in an impeccable home. I had spent hours scrubbing at the stain, but it never moved. I considered the stain and willed it to be pain he had left behind to seep from my body, like water from a rag, infecting the stain instead of me.

When I moved again, the house had changed. It may have been a shift only to me. It no longer felt lifeless. It was controlled. I held my eyes closed, now appreciating the silence which was only broken by a ticking clock on the wall.

I followed in the path he had walked before the silence and calm and emptiness had been violated. I straightened every chair and repotted the plants. Another imitation, but one I needed to get by.