The November House

In a neighbourhood of tidy houses, perfect lawns and pruned bushes, the November House hunches, slouched on the corner. The bullying wind tosses leaves and plastic bags and sticks at her, and laughs. She does not respond. Her voice has faded to beyond a whisper these many long years.

A pink sign, hung on her doors. Not fit for habitation. By Authority. She hangs her head in shame. They came with boards and blinded her windows. It’s been dark inside her these many years, but now, no hope of a shaft of light. Day and night, all the same.

How long since she’s heard the sound of laughter, the yelling of children in the yard? How long since she’s seen a family gathered around a table, a Christmas tree in the corner, lit with coloured lights? How long since someone cleaned her walls, swept her floors, carried a baby to its crib in one of her rooms? Even in summer, while children laugh in other yards, and the sun lights the grass, it’s always November in this corner.

For many years, only one lived here. A poor soul, who cardboarded the windows and kept all her bags and boxes and garbage, piled it against the walls and in the car that never left the driveway. The hedges grew tall, a Sleeping Beauty fortress of vines and tangled branches.

A rusty clothesline with tattered wires, battered by the winds of years. No sun or wind has tousled freshly laundered sheets or rifled through a row of a child’s clean shirts. Her memory stirs, stumbles, falls silent.

Trees and bushes and perennials, planted in hope, by someone, long ago. Their branches tangle and break, the flowers are choked by weeds. Birds light, and don’t linger long. Leaves fall on layers of other years’ leaves. Wandering into the yard fills the soul with cemetery gloom. The November House is like a forgotten grave, untended, its identity fading away.

Quietly, she dies. Someone will buy her double lot, and the bulldozers will come. She will crumple to the ground. What to salvage? Some twisted metal and a pile of bricks. Something new built over her sad remains. If the trees are left standing, someone may hear something of her memory in the November winds.