III. Vacated

Taking the main road through Trinity East as it bends and drops down to the water, you cut up across a hill to where a small rectangular house sits, just above and a stone’s throw from the Atlantic. It is made of weathered old pine, cut lengthwise and stacked, the timber turned grey from relentless season after relentless season. Salt breeze up to high winds, Nor’Easters, lack of cover. The door of the house pushes wide open, and you walk into what is left of what it used to be.

The owners just walked away from it one day and never came back. It happens out here. Space is cheap and there’s lots of it. The door leads directly into the kitchen, the combined efforts of time and lack of maintenance evident immediately. The wind blows through holes in the walls just below the roof. The ceiling is caved in in some places, parts of walls missing, wires stripped. The soaking, blackened carpet that still covers some floorspace squishes under your feet. You shiver. It’s been wet and cold this season, even for around here, even for this province. Hurricane Igor crashed through here last September and likely blew a few extra leaks into the place, took care of some damage that the onslaught of the seasons and the people looting wire hadn’t managed yet. The furniture in what used to be the living room still resides inside, but is all askew and toppled over, long past any hope of being sat on again. On the wall of what once was a bedroom, a picture of Christina Aguilera, at least a decade old, torn out of a magazine and still tacked to the wall next to where a filthy mattress slumps on the floor at a number of odd angles. On another wall, Britney Spears, on another, a photo of somebody you have never heard of named Cheryl Brake. A couple of photos of antiquated cars. A name written on a wall over a doorway.

There is torn-out insulation and pieces of walls and various other garbage of now-uncertain vintage strewn about the place. A fire may possibly have been set in the living room at one point. An uprooted toilet in surprisingly good shape sits across from the door. In the kitchen beside the sink, an empty flask of Golden Wedding. An empty beer bottle next to it, Molson Canadian. An empty tub of Belvedere rolling tobacco, on its side on a table. Legos strewn all over the floor, perhaps incongruously, perhaps not.

Today it’s just a filthy broken-down monument to lives that used to be lived between these walls. Somebody sat on those couches, slept on those mattresses once. They argued over what to watch on TV. There was a child here. But they’re gone, long gone. St. John’s? Alberta? Wherever. Not here anymore. Gone.

They are long gone, and being here, stepping gingerly across the filthy, soaked floors, and taking in what remains feels like a small violation. Violating the long-gone inhabitants, being here visually sifting through what is left, trying to guage their circumstances from nothing but rubble, and leftover pieces with no puzzle? All there is to go on is what is left long after they took what they wanted, and long after others have been through taking anything they might want as well. All that’s left now is the worst of them, I suppose. That which there was no use for. That which was once theirs but wasn’t valuable enough to keep. Leave only what can be forgotten. Forget what you cannot take with you. Go.

Eventually, standing in the once-home becomes eerie, and you step out of the house and back down the hill. You look for walls that still house life inside them.

You still get to choose what to leave behind and what to keep in life, at least until the day where life chooses you to leave behind absolutely everything.

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One thought on “III. Vacated”

  1. this is a lovely description, so stark and raw; i likes the line: what is left of what it used to be.
    this made me think about other places just as empty and blown through, but not as laden with disregard….or loss. funny how two places that seem to have lots in common can carry such different ghosts…
    thanks for this thoughtful piece.

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