It’s been more than a year since our initial COVID-19 lockdown and I’m sure we’re all sick of hearing about it. It’s taken over our lives, both for better and for worse, but now it’s time to focus on the positives. This year has been a time of extreme personal growth for a lot of people and, to my delight, a time of creative growth too.
Many people have taken the free time locked up at home to learn new creative hobbies or develop old ones. I personally did more art than I have in years; I even learned to embroider. I also rediscovered my love for creative writing. As a kid I always had a handful of stories going at all times, but school and work made it difficult to keep up with. During our first lockdown I took a creative writing class for Webster and fell in love with it again.
We at the 78 are always looking for new pieces from students. Whether it is an article, a piece of art, a video, or just an idea, we would love to receive new work that showcases what students have accomplished this year. Any work can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s a look at what I personally created.
by C. Fish
If asked where you saw the house, you wouldn’t know, but on every drive, down every road, at least once, it will be there. If you looked for it you might come up empty. It might catch your eye driving past, maybe you’d even point it out. But later, if asked to describe the house that you’d seen, you’d be unable to recall any details, or if you’d even seen it at all. Like a dream from weeks past that you can only remember at the back of your mind; subliminal.
You know it’s there but you can never bring it into focus, the more you try to remember the more your mind wanders, unable to recall details, never seeing it for more than a second.
It would be an eyesore, if you were to notice it. But it blends in. It should’ve been knocked down a long time ago, if anyone cared. But nobody does. It was there but it wasn’t. Right on the side of the interstate. Right on the edge of consciousness. Past the guardrails and surrounded by dense forest.
I asked my mother once if she had seen the house. She said yes, she knew of it, but that was all. My grandmother said the same. So did everybody else that I asked. For them, the house held no intrigue, they didn’t care, but I can’t forget it.
I’ve always been inquisitive. I like puzzles of any kind, and I don’t like leaving them unsolved. The house has always been a puzzle. It bothers me that nobody seems to acknowledge it. In my mind it’s like a thorn, always there, never leaving. When I think I have forgotten about it, the thorn digs deeper, drawing blood until I see red.
I need to know.
The mid-summer sun was beginning to set in the sky when I decided to satisfy my curiosity. I got in my car and headed off, in no direction in particular. It took longer than I expected but the house always shows up eventually. In front of it is a row of police barriers striped with orange and white, acting as a wall. Have they always been here?
I brace myself on one of the barriers to jump over it and gasp. Pins and needles shoot through my hands and up my arms, equally as painful as it is shocking. I leap over and rub my arms, which are still tingling.
I was so preoccupied with getting rid of the feeling that I didn’t notice the shift at first. Nor was I able to pinpoint what it was when I could feel it. Then, I understood.
There are no more passing cars, the crickets have stopped singing, the frogs have stopped croaking, the wind in the leaves grew still. It’s not only quiet, it’s more than that. A silence that is everywhere, that creeps into my bones.
For the first time I can see the house with full clarity, like the edges have solidified and given the house shape that it didn’t have before. It’s a simple structure. Two stories with a porch out front and gardens that bloom with flowers, despite never being tended to. The house is muted, quaint in its own way. Grey-blue paint covers the outside, faded from uncounted years of sun damage. It was probably attractive when it was built, but that was a long time ago. It has faded to nothing, just like the memory of it will.
There are no tire tracks, no footprints, no signs of life.
I take a step. The crunch of gravel underfoot creates a deafening break in the silence. The very earth seems to tell me that I’m doing something wrong. My body grows heavy and a silent wind pushes me back.
I need to know.
From the porch I can see into the windows. On one side a living room and on the other a kitchen. They are the polar opposite of the outside. Bright floral drapes frame the kitchen, showing off vibrant turquoise and yellow inside. The living room is nothing short of lavish, multiple couches with plush blankets sit in front of bookcases that cover an entire wall. It looks like a set. Like a show house that has never been shown.
I know someone lives here. They must.
The door handle resists but, knowing it must act like its worldly counterpart, it complies and turns to the left. The lock clicks, the sound echoes into the trees and sinks into my consciousness. Suddenly ice cold shoots up my hand and as I pull it back and wince, the door flings itself open, revealing an entryway with a steep staircase.
A gust of stale air and expensive perfume, like a sigh from the house itself, reaches me a moment before the sound does.
I can’t tell if it’s human or animal, alive or dead.
I need to know.
I step inside a moment before my gut tells me not to, the door slamming behind me. There is something here. Something trapped. A deep laugh, full of centuries of resentment, hope, and glee comes from the top of the stairs. It fills the space, finding its way into every nook and corner of the house.
Then, I see it beginning to descend from upstairs. Shrouded in darkness and formless to my eyes, I can feel the power it exudes. I want to get closer, to see what shape lies within that darkness, but I know it would be a mistake.
What have I done?
In a voice that is more inhuman than human it speaks, “Welcome.”
My own voice is ripped out of my throat, and I suddenly understand why this house has never once had its door opened.
A moment of absolute fear is overpowered by a feeling that has no place here. One that I should not be feeling. Contentment.
I manage to speak in a voice that is no longer mine and never will be again, “I’m home.”