An almost-house

July 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

The wendy house is half-hidden in the orchard at the back at the garden, so visiting children don’t fully believe that it is there until they happen upon it.

Her mother said that grandpa had built it when mummy was small, and if you look closely, you can see where the white paint is giving way to rotten wood. It’s needed a bit of attention for a while now, but it’s always so far down the list, behind everything that needs doing to the house proper. Her mother says she’ll make new curtains, brighten it up, and that of course you can stay out there one night darling, that will be fun, won’t it? But her daughter knows as well as she does that it’s never going to happen. The girl is growing, and those two little beds are barely big enough to lie down on. The roof seems too low, and she has to crouch now to get through the door. When she reaches into the little cupboard that is the cooker and the sink, she is scared that as her fingers close over the teapot’s handle, she will feel something else in the dark. Something that scuttles, perhaps, or strange fingers brushing against hers.

She sees the spores of mould blooming on the curtains, and the dull tinkle of the rusty bell as a gust of wind sweeps round the orchard. The chipped toy cups and that musty smell that lingers in her clothes.

She knows that if her mother were to suddenly suggest that she could stay in the old wooden house, she would try to smile and be brave about the adventure, but that fear would be overwhelming, because this house holds within its rotten walls every horror of that which is old and damp and too-small already.

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