Some people swore that the house was haunted. She often wondered about it as she passed it on her early-morning walks. Sometimes it was just an idle, passing thought; at other times she had dreamed up intricate and romantic theories regarding its past occupants and the abandonment that eventually led to its dilapidated state. The house stood empty for as long as she could remember, and she had lived in the neighborhood since she was a little girl. There had always been whispers and rumors, as well as the inevitable outrageous ghost stories told by mischievous Halloween pranksters; but the true story had faded from public memory.
As she rounded the familiar corner, a blustery gust stirred up the leaves she had been crunching through. She had always loved the sound of autumn leaves underfoot, and today was no different. She half-closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and smiled. It was small pleasures like this that kept her going most days. After the tragic accident had claimed both of her parents in her senior year of high school, she began a downward spiral that involved—well, it involved more than she cared to remember, and indeed those years had become hazy to her. They were marked with a searing pain that even years later was unbearable to think about.
The heart of the matter, so to speak, had been a desperate longing to feel loved. She had always been a shy, reserved person; but after the accident she went out of control. It was so easy to get attention when she put her mind to it. She had a natural beauty, and when she accentuated it with sexy clothes, makeup, and hair the boys and men fell all over themselves. She never stayed with one long enough to get very close. After a lengthy series of casual flings, she fell ill. Her 24-hour flu turned into several days, then weeks, and eventually she could no longer find solace in her denial. She was 19 and pregnant. The father wanted nothing to do with either her or the child, and she knew she simply was not ready for this.
After the adoption, she went back to her reticent ways. She realized that she HAD to grow up and stop using men for love, and it had lost its lustre anyway. She began attending a local church, and was very slowly starting to come out of her shell. It was still hard to even look people in the eyes, let alone truly believe in God’s forgiveness. It was creeping its way down from her head into her heart, though.
As she approached the run-down little house, she thoughtfully paused in front of the gate as a glimmer of a crazy idea occurred to her. She shook her head involuntarily, argued with herself for a minute, then threw her hands up in the air. Breathing deeply, she pulled out her cell phone and made an appointment to tour the inside. It just felt right, as she had emotionally connected with the little house for years, feeling just as abandoned & empty. In all her wonderings about its past, she had never before given consideration to its future.
She finally had the epiphany that was 25 years in the making; the past does not define you. Who you are and what you do in the present, and the future that you’re building toward is what is truly meaningful in this life, and she was determined to never lose sight of that.
Nothing was ever the same again after that.
An assignment for writing club at school. I felt the need to flesh the story out a lot more, but had to keep it under 600 words for the assignment. Perhaps someday I’ll come back to it.