Sunday, July 24, 2011



A row of Jonquils outlined the spot where the house used to stand. They provided a stark contrast of life against the death hovering around the property, a property that seemed nearly like a graveyard with sentimental tokens of bouquets and other trinkets sprinkled over it as a sign of respect to the dead. Behind the bright burst of flowers, in the right hand corner of the property, a chimney stood tall, the sentinel over all that used to be and now was not, a grave marker signaling another dearly departed soul.

The child skipped through the overgrown grass of what used to be a front yard, his mother following closely behind, calling out to him to slow down or he would fall. They looked like an ordinary enough family. Complete with a father in a neatly pressed suit standing apart from his wife and child, surveying the acreage of the lot.

The old man watched the little family from his perch on his front porch. His wife often warned him that if he kept sitting in that rocking chair on that porch day after day that he would grow roots and be stuck forever. The old man didn’t care too much about what his wife said; his last simple joy of watching the traffic pass in front of his house was not something he was willing to give up easily.

He’d watched countless other families look at the property across the highway from his own. He’d watched them swoop in like vultures onto the great deal the land was always offered at. The lot was a prime one. Flat, lots of trees, a little creek running along the back. The perfect spot to build a perfect house with a perfect picket fence, a perfect home for a perfect family. Just like the one that had stood there so many years ago.

The old man remembered that home. Remembered the family that had lived there, and died there, so many years before. The house had caught fire late one summer night. The whole family was inside, unable to escape the smoke and flames, unable to escape that perfect home.  

Maybe this would be the family to bring that home back to life. The old man hoped so. He hoped this family wouldn’t notice the heavy air that hung over where the house used to stand. He hoped that they wouldn’t sense what those countless other families had sensed and refuse to build a house on such evil land.

The old man hoped that this young couple and their little boy would buy this empty lot with its bright jonquils and lonely chimney and build their dream house upon its ground. They would build their family, build a perfect spot to have front yard picnics and backyard barbecues, build a foundation for a lifetime of cherished memories and moments. He hoped they would build that perfect house with its perfect promises, so that he could tear them all down.

From his perch on his front porch, rocking calmly and quietly, he would watch those dreams burn. Because no one ever suspects the little old man across the street, nothing more than a nosy fool. Nothing less than a murderer. 

This was written in response to the Lightning and Lightning Bug prompt: Houses. Or the lack thereof.

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