The Buried House
By: Stephanie L. Robertson
They buried a house today.
I saw it happen. They took a big, noisy tractor with a long arm and clumsy hand which tore at the roof.
Timbers of the old rafters cracked as they split, broke right in two. The loud machine puttered into the front room where children played and families received guests. Glass, mottled with decades of grime and dirt, shattered into long slivers, breaking up and falling down. Each spindle on the porch broke one by one, cracking like match sticks. The family used to sit out on that porch and watch people walk down that old dirt road. The one that ran from east to west in front of the house.
Children walked that road to the old school, a mile away. Mules and horses left their tracks in the dust. Wagons ambled through on the way to town. Then cars came. Then one day it was paved. And then one day they made it a two-lane with speed limits to slow those fast-moving cars, zipping between the two towns.
The yellow machine puttered and rumbled on. Planks split from the walls and fell to the ground like strips of paper. An entire wall came down with a crash and the sound of tinkling glass.
For years—yes, for decades—the house has been sinking into the ground, all on its own. It sank right into the earth ‘til all one could see was the top third of the house—the top of the front door, the windows, and so forth.
I had sat in that front parlor, waiting for Danny to come for me. Irene was playing our old upright piano. She so looked forward to her own parties and high school banquet days. Days of chiffon and carnations. She was playing some familiar tune such as The Tennessee Waltz. Whatever was popular. Some of the keys stuck down, but she played on.
Mother dried her hands on her apron and pointed to my room—mine and Irene’s. I was to go there to wait for Danny. It was not proper for a young lady to look too anxious, when waiting for her gentleman. Let him wait for you. Never mind that he had met Father three dates ago. Go on, now. Wait in there.
My ears strained for the sound of his daddy’s old Plymouth. A door slammed. Heavy footsteps on the porch and a loud banging on our door. Angry voices from the next room. Not Danny; why was my old beau, Ben, here? I thought my father had thoroughly explained to him to not come around anymore. I rubbed invisible bruises on my arms and shivered at the memory but then ran out of my room when I heard shots fired. He was there. A crazed look in his pale eyes. My father was down. Irene no longer played her waltz. And where was Mother?
“If I can’t have you, no one will!” he screamed at me and fired that final shot which pierced my heart.
I never found out what happened to my family.
And you can’t sell a house that has been stained by blood. They can clean it and scrub it ‘til there’s no trace of the crimson, but they can’t get it out of the house. Really, they can’t. They tried. Oh, yes, they tried. But the house was tainted, and no one would buy it.
The machine’s hand grasped the chimney and let it go. Bricks tumbled over the ground like a child’s toy blocks. The roof gave way. The machine’s giant arm pushed the end wall, and the house was finally in its grave.
Dust filled my nose with filth and decay.
Why did they bury the house? For sixty years, it has set there, not bothering anyone. They could have left it to sink on into the ground on its own. ‘Til no one could see it. ‘Til it sank beneath that red clay all on its own. It would have buried itself, I know.
They buried a house today.
It’s my house.
I have lived here for years.
And I will live here forever.
Copyright 2014 by Stephanie L. Robertson
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