The House on the Hill

I stopped by today – on a whim.  To see if your banks contained any last remnants of early spring flowers.

And there you were, your old, quiet self, standing proudly on the hill.  I found them – the flowers – pale white sticking up from the untrimmed lawn.  That was all I meant to do, really – run from the car, pick a few flowers, run back to the car.  But something called me to linger.  And that something was you.

If only you could tell me your story.  I like to hear stories – whispered in the wind, radiating from the rotting wood of an old fence post.  Perhaps they are just products of my imagination, but I like to think that people leave behind little pieces of themselves in their handiwork…pieces that have stories to tell – if you let them.

You’re a proud house, and I know that your pride came from somewhere.

Perhaps it was the man with the mile-wide smile and the sweat on his brow who stepped back to look at you after placing the final nail in your walls.  He had eyes that crinkled when he smiled and his trouser legs were dusted with dirt.  And he was proud of you.  The house that he built with his own hands.

Perhaps it was the woman with the curl on her forehead and the laugh that could climb hills.  She laid out the flower beds – the sunshine daffodils and the dainty white flowers (I don’t know their name.  She did).  She was wearing an apron with scalloped edges and no matter how often she pushed that curl away, it would always fall back to her forehead.  And she was proud of those flowerbeds.  And so were you.

Perhaps it was the little girl – the one with the curls (just like her mother’s) that she let run wild.  She popped the tops of those sunshiny daffodils off their stems and laid them on a leaf for a party.  A flower teacup and a leafy saucer.  She had scraped knees from climbing that tree in the backyard and dimples that popped out as she offered her momma some tea.  And she was proud of her makeshift tea party held next to your flowerbeds.  And so were you.

But that was many years ago.

Today you stand empty and alone.  Walls gray, paneless windows gaping at your sides.  There is not much to watch over now.  The neighbor’s dog circling his master’s trailer at the bottom of the hill.  An occasional visitor, coming to pull a piece of farm equipment from your backyard shed.  Me, stepping in your door like a tourist come to see a forgotten relic (Tickets please!  No cameras.).  Me, picking daffodils planted many years ago – the last remnants of those flower beds.

You’ve been forgotten for a long time.  But I can still see your pride.  I would love to think that someday you could be repaired – that your walls could echo with voices once again.  But…I fear…you have been left alone for far too long.

Someday you will probably sag to your knees in the dirt, perhaps naturally; perhaps by the hand of man.  And they will take you and bury what is left of you beneath the ground.  And build a new house atop your hill.

And then your quiet pride will be gone…to the outside world at least.

But there – buried snugly in the ground – you will  sing a lullaby to this new baby house.  And the song will be about a man with sweat on his brow and a smile a mile wide.  About a woman with a curl on her forehead and an eye for sunny yellows and calming whites.  A little girl with scraped knees and an invitation to a tea party.

And the baby house will hear you.  And you won’t be forgotten.