Mute is the Sound of this Room

South Creek, Nov 21

The storms are coming through South Creek again. A full day of bustling winds has worked its way to tonight’s climax. Outside, the moon waits out the weather by hiding under a heavy quilt of clouds, shutters smash into the sides of the house, vines of ivy shudder along the shrinking brick. The creek, just down ways from the house, sounds more like a river when its flooded with burgeoning, barreling gusts of wind. Even the trees seem irritated as they grown and flail to stop the wind. And yet, the wind chimes continue to sing their optimistic song set by the tempo of the sleet and snow. The whole house moves as if it were one big ship locked in a violent assail of a sea’s surging movement. The cobwebs reverberate the quaking floorboards as the house seems itself to shiver in the cold. The cats have scurrying upstairs to find refuge on my bed and the dog, who I can hear pausing and puttering throughout the house, has settled under the dining room table away from the windows.

Mute is the sound of my room; however, aside from the persistent eerie and deafening ringing of silence that holds the room as if caught motionless on the silk threads of a spider’s web, I feel restless simply sitting in a bed. It’s when we are at rest that we experience the restlessness of the world around us. As the incandescent candles that sit in each window flickered by shorting circuits with every shiver the house made, and the checkered blue wallpaper that stretches the length of the room continued to observe me with the most humble and patient of saintly eyes, I acknowledge that my mind was stirring uncomfortably in such stillness.

The hall that meets the door of the room has a lingering breath of mothballs and moldly wood. It’s stench has lingered long in my bedroom and has left it’s scent subtly on my clothes. Everything smells like the dying—not like the dead, but of the way of life withering, like the depression of an instrument never played or furniture never enjoyed: Life has given itself up, but still lends itself to hang around. In some ways, this house is more of a museum than it is home. Static shelves that have held the same books for decades have only been touched to be dusted. The dolls that were displayed on the dressers longed for company, but as many winters passed without a child-like soul to adore them they surely came to be discouraged like the doorknobs, like the floor boards, like the picture frames and bedframes. “No one is coming,” they exhaled.

Where I sleep is on the second floor of an old farm house where my grandfather still lives. The gray cat still darts up there from time to time to check its investments, but for years, there was no movement, not even the upstairs windows had been opened, and the thus the space was kept stagnant.

Now, as I sleep here in the blue bedroom in the back, there is something or someone arguably present. What is present is left for interpretation.  The room is still, but feels as if wildly stirring. But, what haunts a house sometimes is the mind itself haunted, preoccupied.  A phone call from an estranged cousin just days before disclosed her own sentiments about the upstairs bedrooms. With that information, in addition to my own premonitions and feelings, I’ve kept lights on all night or slept with a crucifix in my hand. I am, I admit, nervous every night to sleep here.

Classic horror stories have instructed readers that, if ever in a similar circumstance, the solution is to get the fuck out. While many may have had steered away, my own curious self stepped in with a stick of sage and well-intended wish for a long journey. For three nights I filled the bedrooms with smoke: the corners, the drawers, and even the cracks; but, the same feeling of being drenched in malaise persisted. It was on the third night that I realized my work was not a very considerate gesture as I had intended it to be. Instead, my actions were more of a rude eviction instigated by disgruntlement and fear. My conscious spoke, ‘do you wish us on with love and care, or do you wish us out because you are merely uncomfortable?”

. . .

In a similar way I have treated my own sadness like I have treated “the ghosts.” I’ve screamed at it and kicked it out my own home, made remedies to move on, and left it out in the cold with wet clothes. By slamming the door on depression I also rejected a large part of my suffering self that is also a part of my whole, and thus myself that can never become full or whole.

A friend one time shared in a circle that he invites his sorrows in, saying, “come in, it’s warm and we have plenty to share. Stay as long as you need.” If influenced by the thought that the house is an extension of the body, then perhaps it can be thought that all who inhabit and interact in its walls and rooms are an extension of the self (perhaps, just the mind expanded beyond its casing). Regardless, a house is always occupied, be it by rodents, tenants, or spirits. And if the house be an extension of the body, then perhaps it can be an extension of time too. For whoever in the future would come to enter this house and call it home, may its room always be prepared and accomodable. Come to accept those things that are present and passing in the home, much like our own minds and memory, present and passing.

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