Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What the Heart Did

The heart of the house felt cold and began to hate the black thing that crouched in the corner. It couldn't stop thinking about PLAN B and worrying that whatever B was might be painful. The house wasn't afraid of pain: it had seen it and felt it and weathered it for many years, but it would have preferred to avoid it, as most people would.
The man did nothing more to the house for many days and then he left one rainy afternoon, after the house had stood empty and waiting all day for the people to return with their noise and bustle, their games and pages and quietly shrieking children. And the man returned with more boxes and more clamor. He quietly unpacked these boxes and laid out colored squares on the floor. These squares made a clinking noise and were even more cold and heavy on the house's gleaming floor.
And then, the next day, the man did something very painful indeed. He cut the house. He cut its gleaming floor, cut a square right out of it. And the heavy black thing stood in the corner and watched. The house thought it may have voiced an evil chuckle, but this was merely a thought and not a very certain one.
The man took a large white bucket to the sink and filled it with water to make a paste. He laid the paste on the house's shorn exposed floor. It tickled and hurt, like touching a scabless wound. The house shrank from the man's touch despite feeling some interest in the way the man smoothed the paste. The man looked like a painter who had once stood in that very room, looking out the window and making long red strokes on a stretched white canvas. The man seemed to know what he was doing.
Then the man sat back on his heels and pondered the colored squares, touching them one at a time, his cracked hands as gentle as when he touched the woman's cheek. He arranged them and moved them, cocking his head and touching them again. He picked up one square and pressed it into the paste. Then he began to work quickly, fitting the squares together like the baby fit together his puzzles. He pressed each cold square into the gray paste and it became very heavy.
The man worked for hours, not even stopping when the woman and the children sat down at the table and put food in their mouths. They chewed mostly silently, looking up now and then to watch the man work.
Finally, he stood and wiped his hands on his patched pants. He washed them, scrubbing off the paste and then sat down to eat food that had grown cold.
The house shifted under the heavy new floor, shivering under its cold weight and kept a close eye on the dark thing in the corner. It waited for the man to do something else.

1 comment:

Colleen said...

Please tell me you're submitting this somewhere!