On the street there is a house
Updated: Apr 22
I live in a suburb and like all suburbs there is one house where no repair work is done, no improvements are made—and the lawn is always overgrown. In a suburb, there is always one house that the neighbourhood children avoid and the women gossip about because it doesn’t have the latest LED lights and the new type of square glass house number on the front—and it will certainly never have the flat white overlay everyone gets nowadays, nor the putty-coloured windows.
Nobody will stop there on Halloween—the brambles are so tangled that it looks just like a place where a witch would live, or a serial killer (to keep up to date).
I don’t blame the children, because when I walk by and I look at the empty windows (the windows are always, always empty) I feel that they watch me with great intensity—it makes me shudder sometimes. There is something there, something that sees me—but the windows are always empty, empty, empty (I feel them on my body, the invisible watchers press on me). But my dog loves the overgrown front garden and he always wants to nose around it for a long time—so my unease grows, until I pull him away.
As with all such houses, there is a story with it—the story is that there is a man who lives there whose wife died when she was very young, and her death drove him mad. Now he only lives in one room, and never leaves it—sometimes there is an ambulance there to see him. I can imagine that inside the house nothing has changed for thirty years—and everything is very still, the dust very thick.
It will all be stripped out when he dies, stripped out by an eager young couple. In a way, I don’t want it stripped out—I want to protect the house, even though it frightens me.
So there is the house—the house that every suburb has; and there is a man—a man that every suburb has, that the kids joke about (whether they dare ring his bell) and that the women say sad, spiteful things about; and there is a garden—and in that garden, when I stopped there today, I found a single red tulip all alone and still unfurled. It was if it grew where it shouldn’t be, unless it was sown so very many years ago—and yet that tulip, in that overgrown garden, was more beautiful than anything else for miles around.