Day 197 – Under the Dust

Word count: 1040

The house was a mess of papers, ugly broken ornaments, filthy scraps of rubbish; everything blanketed with dust like fresh snow on a cold winter’s morning. For approximately six months the large old house had remained vacant, its owner sadly dying some five months previous. During the time that the owner had lived there, the place was maintained in much the same sad and sorry state that Kerry had found it in when she had unlocked the front door this morning.
Kerry had been here many times before, it being her mother’s home. Though she had been given the house in her mother’s inheritance, she had been putting off coming here ever since her mother’s death. Even parking in the driveway was painful. She had looked up at the grand old house and had to fight the thought that her mad old mum would be eagerly awaiting her arrival inside. There would be tea, no doubt poisoned with a large amount of creamed whisky, and they would descend into the best gossips and recite the most fun tales of the week.
Opening the door had been a lot easier than she had expected for she was not ringing the doorbell for a house that had no one to answer. The mess, however, was more than a little difficult to take in. Though no one had lived there, it appeared as if someone had broken in and thrown everything to floor; stashed things down the tightest corners and dismantled any sense of order.
However, Kerry was very much used to seeing the place in this state; the only thing that worried her particularly was that this was no longer someone else’s mess: it was now hers. Kerry knew that her husband John would simply refuse on principal and would most likely suggest torching the place if he were ever asked to help out. Kerry was partially inclined to this suggestion as well, if it were not for the fact that all these weird and pointless items belonged to her mother. They were little pieces of her; however small and trivial. They had meant so much to her to be kept, they could not be thrown out so insouciantly.
Pretty quickly it soon became apparent, as Kerry rifled through the living room at first, that none of these random pieces of curios had meant anything to her mother. They were simply a collection of mail delivered adverts, scrap pieces of paper with unnamed telephone numbers, shopping lists, chipped ornaments and a whole host of pens that did not work. Kerry had hoped to find something that might have been a link to her mother; some sentimental scribbled words or photographs of her mother she had never seen. But there was nothing; it was all just as meaningless as a big old empty house that no one lived in.
Through the kitchen, dining room and second bedroom she took the bin bags. She had managed to fill four in the living room alone. The kitchen had been surprisingly tidy but she dared not touch the fridge or freezer, even though she remembered emptying them at the time her mother moved into the hospice. The main bedroom, however, was the most curious of them all. It was largely tidy and well maintained. All the clothes in the wardrobe were ironed, folded and neatly piled. They even smelled of the fabric condition her mother used to use. Kerry picked up her mum’s favourite scarf; it smelled delicately of her perfume.
Kerry began to sense her mother now. This house of dust was slowly becoming the place her mother used to live rather than a hell of junk and hoarding. The bed was still made from the last time she had been there. Kerry sat on the bed and fluffed the pillows, an automatic reaction by now. There was more stuff protruding from the bedside table. Kerry opened in and found yet more papers, but this time she came across a photograph of herself and both her parents. Kerry’s father had died when she was sixteen. It felt such a long time ago, but it was only really about twenty years. He had been in the army, a Sergeant. Though he was away a lot, Kerry had fantastic memories of summers spent with him. Being the only child, she had all the love in the world and she had to share it with no one.
Smiling at the photograph, she laid it on the bed and flicked through the rest of the bank statements and letters written from her aunt to her mother, until she came across an odd hard-back folder. It was only the size of an A4 sheet of paper, and only slightly thicker than cardboard, but it was odd nonetheless, considering the rest of the house had never heard of folders or organisation. Putting the rest of the papers on the floor, she opened up the folder and found a laminated certificate inside. Signed by both her parents, she read through the certificate with utter disbelief.
The ground might have been removed from beneath her feet; all the breath in her body had been drawn from her. Several times she had read through what it said, what it meant and still she could not understand. Had her entire life been a lie? Had all those Christmases and Birthdays all just been fake, fraudulent – a complete act? Was the love, was that real? Was any of it real? Who was this person she had cleared up after for two years before she died – whose house was she in right now, whose stuff was she reading? Who had she come to visit twice a week to chat with about irritating husbands, bossy neighbours and to sort out all her problems.
Kerry felt sick. She took the photograph of the three of them together and stared at them. How long had she been lying to herself – now that it was in the open, surely it was obvious? A blue eyed girl born of hazel eyes parents? The answers to all her questions were six feet under. All that she wanted to hear was smothered in dust to dust, ashes to ashes and earth to earth.

~ by S.G. Mark on April 21, 2012.

One Response to “Day 197 – Under the Dust”

  1. Kerry’s perception of the house through the activity of her going into it and going through it has a very natural feel. I like how you’ve written this.

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