Faded birch deck. Boards bowing with age as if rejecting the life they were given. Nails protruding up, taking the boards attempt of as escape as a catalyst to their own.
The sun beams down, saturating an inescapable heat over weather boards with flaking white paint. Faded joinery only managing to hint at the once bold colour it once wore in youth. That colour today would be anyones guess.
Inside echoed the strange sounds of an empty house, each foot step a violent reminder of the has-beens that memories collected here had become. Michael stood at the window after walking the hallway to the end, past the kitchen and into the sun room which over looked the ocean.
Outside as the weak winter sun beat down, the wind was calm but the ocean was angry. Furious waves crashed in a messy action as if a toddler was throwing a tantrum in a bath. A storm had recently passed and the ocean was always the last to give up the game.
The view was calming for Michael, his fondest memories were of storms, the sound of the rough ocean would forever be linked to those times. They were welcome thoughts at this time, a time when happy thoughts were too few and far between.
This house once represented a home to Michael, a place where he would rest his battered mind, where he would watch the rain on the windows in winter, and where he would lie on the couch by the window in summer, a book in his hand.
These memories were rocks in his mind, a place to cling to when the current was too strong. This was one of those times.
He walked around the house, touching all the spots that triggered memories, the gash on the lounge doorframe, the chip on the benchtop corner and the faded circular patch of carpet in his old bedroom.
Each one he felt connected to, a soothing sensation followed each texture. Closing his eyes his imagination could take him back. The smells, the weight of the air, everything would rush back. Such action was addictive to Michael. He had been down this road before, being lost unto his mind, the real world became depressing in comparison. He was resolute in his mind not to return, but he didn’t really trust himself.
“I need this”, he whispered to himself, justifying his actions just as an alcoholic would.
Michael was all too aware of his actions and the rationale he adhered to them. It didn’t take long for his mind to over think it and he began to pace up and down the hallway.
Michael had a strange walk, his lanky features didn’t help the situation. It was as though he was an old man with worn slippers who had to walk a certain way to keep them from sliding off his feet, so when he walked his arms and legs would go first and his body would follow. As unusual as his gait was, Michael was a simple and gentle man, his world was self fulfilled. Taking his time, with each part of his life, he wasn’t a self described perfectionist but he knew how he wanted things. This was possibly what bothered him the most, as his life had failed to manifest the ideals he held dear in his mind. Although little of it was to do with his own actions, or lack of.
Two years ago he was in a very different place. His wife and his two young daughters were still alive, so were his parents. The pacing of the latter was what brought him to be in their old house again. He wasn’t sure why he had come back but he figured his unconscious mind knew better how to heal itself than his conscious mind did.
He was wearing a long grey overcoat in which his hands rested in the pockets as though both his arms had gone to sleep. He was hunched over as though he didn’t have the energy to stand up properly. The last two years had sucked the life out of Michael, his skin was devoid of colour and his hair had quickly began turning grey as if trying to blend with his complexion. Even with the great toll the accumulated events had taken on him he still remained quite functional, he was stuck in a sort of auto pilot. As though someone else had taken the controls and he was merely witnessing someone else’s life in first person.
It was all rather surreal when he pondered it, but even thinking had a disconnected feeling to it. At times he would pinch his arm with his fingernails so hard he would bleed, as though the act might kick him out of the seeming other dimension he was trapped within.
In the sun room a large cane chair still remained, he studied it for a moment before deciding to sit in it. He was unsure why it remained when every other piece of furniture was gone. Considering this fact he couldn’t but help but look at it as though it was alien to him. Sitting in the chair wasn’t a comfortable experience, the cushions were gone and the cane had broken in places making parts stick out and stab into him as he applied his weight. He didn’t mind this much, in some sense he found pleasure in it as it reminded him of the age of the chair. He pondered if he had become a little masochistic, but the thought disappeared quickly.
Sitting in the chair and looking outside into the haze of sea spray he drifted into the haziness of his own mind. He thought about the expectation of life, of the human expectation of fairness, of what had been, and of what it had become. It didn’t take him long to realise he related to this chair more than any other human being alive. What he valued in life had been washed away, eroded and faded by time. A line of events that had been, and events which had not yet happened. Everything that he had been was gone, the real Michael laid somewhere in the past. What existed now was the chair. Everything with which he had purpose for was now gone. He no longer served the world in the way he once had, he was broken and parts were sticking out. He was now quasi-real, he quasi-existed. He now knew why the chair remained when everything else was gone, he just hadn’t been taken away yet.