If These Walls Could Talk —
A Spoon River of Houses #1
The crew who built me and my sisters left here when I was done and went across town. A guy I’d grown fond of comes driving through once in a while, he used to look at me with a certain pride, now, well, now he just shakes his head.
He doesn’t have the big work truck anymore. He still has a truck, a ford, white, not so big, not so new. But the tools are still in the back.
Here is my story. I don’t want to tell it. Can’t one of you go first?
My last family played pop music at full volume. Well, to be fair, only one of the kids played it loud. Then it was limited to after school hours, weekends and vacations.
I had a fairly normal family, they got up in the morning, doled out the instant breakfasts and went about their day.
Very normal for the time I live in, two incomes, the house up the road is far older than I, its seen so much more, but we agreed to talk about me.
The man and woman did not get along all that well and I am talking about more than when the lights went out. They were in over their heads. They knew it going in. But they had to do this.
I remember hearing worker’s radios as I was coming together. A song here, an ad there.
What? Bad credit? No credit? No job? Boy, we have a loan for you.
Home Ownership is not out of reach, you can qualify for a low interest loan.
In debt, refinance, now, fold all of your debt into one monthly payment.
Home ownership is within reach of everyone, buy now. If you are renting, well, you are just throwing your money away.
It went on like that from the moment I became aware.
They put me up fast. Slapped the tyvek all around me and ran wires, pipes, a sound system all around me, then they wired me for security, fire, something called radon.
I have some really good insulation, I am almost a self heating oven. State of the art heating system. Did you know I have some heated floors in the bathrooms and the big room at the front?
My windows are state of the art, too. Some of the blinds are trapped between the panes of glass and rise and lower without human touch.
You imagine it, I probably have it.
I wasn’t built to fit, I was a home built next to an identical home and across from my mirror image. Even the streets and grass are new. The trees are kind of sketchy. Sprinkler systems retracted into the grass.
The head of the construction crew circles past and heads on out.
I see that a lot, people used to come out here and smile.
When my family moved in, there were lots of back yard gatherings.
On weekends the man and woman applied paint, colors, not the flat white the workers gave me. They moved in new furniture with chemical smells almost rivaling the hard smell of the carpeting they put in on the floors that didn’t have heat running through them.
About the time they were all done, a general unrest began to grow within me.
The man left for work before the woman but they both left with agitation. The kids, at first they seemed unaware. With my new decor came new clothes, plasma tvs, game systems, anything they wanted. My family had the deluxe loan package.
The rumblings were low at first. The man, he began to put in more time at work. The woman looked around for suitable work that would allow the shift work that modern parent do. The kids were certainly able to let themselves in and I am equipped to keep them safe, warm and entertained.
One day the woman sulked. The man protested he was doing all he could do. She had not found that extra shift and her company was cutting back.
The music got louder about this time. Everything got louder. The back yard parties continued. It was during this time that the stress lifted a bit as other people joined in the best cheer they could muster in the back yard. But their actions, their smiles, their movements were different. They were all restless and brooding and pretending things were fine.
The woman was home almost all the time, now. For a few hours during the day, she dressed up and went out. Then she was back. Sulking.
For the first time, dishes sat where they were last used. My carpet gathered dust, dirt, stains. The kid’s rooms looked like a wasteland.
Once, all of my power went out for most of a day. The man was home a lot more during this time.
As though reflecting the adults in the house, the kids began to simmer, stew and scorch.
It is hard to believe I was once, almost grand. My neighbors were just like me, filled with hope. Fresh. State of the Art.
When furniture began to disappear I knew something was up. I hoped I would enfold another group of people as I began to realize these people were leaving.
One day a thing beyond my wildest nightmare I houses could have a nightmare, happened.
The man slammed out of the house, into the garage. He came back with a heavy tool and began bashing at my walls!
A day or two later the woman tore at my carpets. The man bashed more of my walls. They dragged my range out and pushed it with great effort onto its side in the kitchen and pulled at the wires.
I was in such despair I didn’t even keep track of the kids. The family I protected had turned on me.
They took a lot of things out in big moving trucks. Strange men stomped through taking things.
When I was hollow, torn up, bashed and deserted, the power stayed off. I went dark.
One day a strange truck came up and two men began to change out my locks. A sign went up in my front yard.
Slowly, signs went up all around me, families left in a state of hatred. Other battered houses went dark. Lawns grew out of control then dried up yellow.
Only the looky loos came in SUVs and Trucks pointing and nodding.
My pipes froze and gave. The water was the last thing cut off to me and my mirror images.
Now, we sit, we shudder.
The other day, the worker pulled into my driveway. He got out, peered into my windows, shook his head. He got back into his Ford truck and I think he was crying.
Everyone needs to own a house.