The sunlight burned into my back as I stood at the base of the steep, terracotta brick driveway. The suns rays cast shadows of nearby gumtrees onto the lavish two story house, a respected structure in amongst the carbon copy houses harboured within the city. I walked forward, noticing the obvious love and care that had gone into keeping the garden nurtured. I was greeted with the delicate sight of a rose garden, each flower in full bloom, thriving in beauty. They stood tall and proud with a deep red pigment saturating the petals. An elated feeling washed over me as I continued on over the pristine grass, a concrete staircase revealing itself, inviting me to the front door up on the second story. Halfway up the staircase I paused and was awed by a wooden platform that extended from the second floor into a balcony, a beechwood balustrade keeping anyone from toppling over into the garden below. My eye suddenly caught sight of a piece of white fabric moving in the breeze. I descended back a few steps, curious of what was on the balcony. A woman stood, waving a tea-towel, calling to two children running and giggling behind a large pine tree in the middle of the garden. The woman wore a cream blouse with frills lining the collar. An ankle height skirt that matched the colour of the blouse was embellished with decorations, pleats swaying in time with her movements. Her hair was a dark auburn shade and a top it sat a vast broad-brim hat, with a low crown and adorned with lace and ribbons. I was so captivated with her beauty that I jumped when she disappeared. It was if someone had blown out the flame of a candle, she just flickered out. I made my way up the rest of the stairs and stopped at the foot of the door. Hushed music floated through the cracks in the door, and a warm feeling flooded through me. It was unlocked and it swung open gently as my fingertips pressed against the wood. All at once I was hit with a burst of colour and life. I stood on the wood printed linoleum of a living room. The house seemed to be alive, moving, breathing life into each piece of furniture and fabric. Next to me sat a grand piano, a rich mahogany wood lining the edges. My senses were engulfed by the pungent eucalyptus polish that made the piano shine. On the other side of the piano lay a gramophone, a grand gold horn standing proud, singing a sweet tune. The muted song I had heard out the door was now an inviting melody sung by a female quartet. I walked to the middle of the room, drinking in all the colour and energy the room radiated. Pristine books sat side-by-side on a white bookcase. Upholstered traditional furniture was arranged to form a neat family area. The curtains were an apricot orange and displayed illustrations of fruit, flowers and abstract designs. I turn and turn, taking in every detail. And then I stop. No. The vibrant colour of the walls bleeds down into the floor, turning a dirty grey. I notice the plaster on the far ceiling cracks, it widens, travelling straight towards me, faster and faster. Then it stops and I look up.. and the chandelier drops.
Hanging my head, the music now sounds muted and dull; I let my eyelids close gently. Then the rush of 100 years passes in a blur. Under my feet the floor sags, the air becomes stale, musty. I stand, silent, the sickly warm air unmoving. Opening my aged eyes, an unfamiliar sight greets me. Books lean against each other like a row of pushed over dominos. The floor is littered with debris from the house. Wooden planks from the ceiling lay scattered around me. The house feels foreboding, each broken chair and splintered floorboard threatening me, a silent warning. Dread pools within me. I can’t be here. I need to leave. The once lively house was now dead, and even on its deathbed it still screamed at me to leave. I trip and stumble over the ruined books and shattered ornaments in a feeble attempt to reach the door. Piano keys are littered everywhere and looking at the mahogany piano I realise why. Right above where the piano lay, the wall behind had toppled inwards. Bricks were imbedded into the keyboard and I mourned for the once beautiful instrument. I nearly lost my footing several times but eventually made it to the weather worn door. Pulling it was no use, there was too much debris, and there was no hope in trying to move the smashed bookcase. I shout and scream and pound the door and suddenly I find myself on the other side of it. Sprawled out on the ground I feel vulnerable, a small fish in an ocean. I look towards the balcony. Half had broken off and fallen into the weed ridden garden below and the balustrade had long since been removed. The echo of memories haunts me and I scramble to my feet. Down the stairs I go, running from the misery and torment. Halfway down the staircase I trip down and land face first into the weeds. The house was toying with me, taunting and laughing in my face. I ran past the rose garden, the very garden that I once saw as beautiful. Now in the place of leaves, thorns the colour of a fresh bruise line the branches. Standing before the gum trees outside the house I feel hollow. The trees limbs are twisted and contorted into unnatural shapes. My senses long for the sweet minty smell of the eucalyptus leaves but I’m overcome by the lingering smell of dead, rotting wood. Heartbroken, empty. The bright colours and joyful music was just a facade. The life had long since been sucked out of this place and I couldn’t bear the betrayal. My head pounded and my mind was numb, buzzing like the static on an old television set. My legs screamed one word. Run. And I did run. Through the trees, over the sandbanks. The house ridiculed me for being foolish enough to think that if I ran, I would be safe. I knew that I could never truly leave, that I would forever be connected to this house but it was all I could do to just run. And I kept running.