Daily Practice, Fiction

Empty House~ #DailyPractice

Back to the keyboard for my daily practice. I took a trip out of town this past weekend and managed to leave without my computer, so that put my writing on a brief hiatus.
I decided to go for a writing prompt generator this evening – this one provided by https://writingexercises.co.uk. I flipped through a couple of the first lines that were offered up and went with this one.

The house wasn’t the same to her any more.

It was more than the absence of rugs and furniture and art and photos. Lynn could remember the buzz of walking through these equally empty rooms a dozen years ago. The house had felt pent and waiting, all held breath and promise and opportunity. Now. Now that magic was gone. At least for her. Now ghosts climbed the stairs and haunted the hall and stuck in the doorways.

It occupied a different liminal space now, Lynn realized. Where once it was that between that pulls one into the future this space is the one that drags at you, tugging at your shadow, leaving afterimages of memory and wishes and dreams smeared in the periphery.

A part of her wanted to rush through this last inspection. Just glance in each room to make sure nothing remained and flee. But she knew she would regret not taking care with this farewell. She had loved making this house her home. Her molars ached at the bittersweet knowledge that someone else was dreaming of where to place the couch, which drawer would hold the silverware and which would be the all encompassing junk drawer.

Lynn paused in the doorway to the bedroom. The late afternoon sun slanted through the blinds and painted stripes across the hardwood floor in a study of perspective. She rested her palm on the molding, rubbed her thumb over the dent left by her headboard so many years ago, made almost invisible by three changes in trim color. Faint shadows showed where the tryptic of her grandfather’s watercolors once hung and a tan line revealed where the rug had laid. There were just so many shadows; real and imaginary, tangible and ephemeral.

“Lynn.” Her name bounced off the empty walls and bare floors, becoming as layered and strange as the shadows around her before catching her attention.

“Here,” she answered, swimming out of the quicksand of memories. She turned her back on the room.

“We should go.” Her best friend waited in the hall, hands in her pockets, shoulders curved. This was not a happy moment and she knew it.

“I know.” Lynn looked around once more, touch the door, the wall, the countertop. “I just…”

“I know.” Bev tugged one hand free and held it out. “I’m here.”

Lynn tucked her hand into Bev’s. “I know,” she said again, her voice barely a whisper this time. “Thank you.”

The light changed as they passed back through the house, shifting as the sun slipped behind clouds and trees outside. Each room went dim, one by one, as they left, until the whole of the house was clasped in twilight when Lynn stepped out the front door. The birds were quiet and in the hush one tree frog then another peeped, ushering in the evening chorus.

Lynn closed the door, trying not to feel as if a great stone monolith now stood between herself and her past. She hated goodbyes, even this sort. The key stuck briefly as she turned the lock and she performed that automatic tug that allowed the deadbolt to snug the heavy door against the weatherstripping. She let her fingers linger a moment on the worn wood and heaved a sigh when Bev’s fingers grazed her shoulder.

“It’s so different now,” she whispered and Bev curled an arm around her shoulder.

“It always is, hon. You can’t go back.”


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