Monday, June 17, 2013
Dust That Burns (part 3)
Getting home was a blur. I couldn't tell you if I took the same route home that I had taken to get to Lowes or not. All I know is that when I pulled into the driveway something had changed. The air wasn't thick with the weight of summer humidity. The trees didn't cast such heavy shade.
I had only been gone a few hours, but something was different.
As I walked up the stone slab walk to the house, I could feel a distinct chill. Like the downward draft just in front of a storm. The trees overhead were still and there was no sound from birds or any other critters. The sky overhead was blue and bright, but that chill was everywhere now.
Reaching the doorway, I felt a sense of relief. Turning the knob and hearing the door open smoothly made me smile. Suddenly I was home. As I crossed the threshold into the entryway, I looked up the stairs. Everything that had been covered with boxes and strewn with construction debris was now quite clean.
I expected that we would have ample time over the weekend to get any painting work done that Lowes failed to accomplish. Instead I found the entire house completely refinished. The Roasted Pumpkin paint had definitely been the right choice. Somehow they had also painted one of the adjacent rooms a rich plum. There were wonderful details brought out in the woodwork that had obviously had more done to it than a simple dusting would have fixed. Someone had really pulled out all the stops.
And then I noticed the chill in the air again. The house was cold. Not drafty, but still and darkly cold. The only warmth I could feel came from the windows. Even the new autumnal paint job seemed to recede into the dark coolness that swept around me.
I called out to Nancy in hopes that maybe she had an explanation. No sound came from anywhere in the house. I started walking up the stairs which before had creaked with every step. Now those steps were silent. It was as though the air couldn't hold one single note of sound.
I reached the landing and marveled at how the picture window had been cleaned. Looking around the hall, I realized that the bedroom doors were all shut except one. The bedroom with the door we couldn't get to open previously, was open. Before it hadn't been locked, but the door simply wouldn't budge. I had assumed it was swollen with the summer humidity, or maybe it had been painted shut. Now it was wide open and I could hear movement inside.
I stepped into the room and felt the air change again. This room had not been touched.
At the foot of the bed were two chairs. The chairs faced the window, with the drapes thrown open. The air was less cold. More a feeling of air being stirred. Still too much dust in the air. A bitterness and a bite to it.
It was only then that I realized that the drawers had been opened and that there were clothes on the bed and strewn on the floor. Beautiful clothes. Silks and satins that definitely were not part of any life I had shared with my wife. More importantly, it was obvious that no one had touched these drawers in an awfully long time.
Turning around, I started for the door. I knew that Nancy had to be around here somewhere. As I reached the doorway, she came in. Standing there, wearing clothes that were elegant, timeless and yet totally out of time... I was dumbstruck. I felt like I was staring at Jackie Onassis... in my own bedroom. Nancy looked perfectly content. This wasn't dress-up. This was real. She had found her time.
I walked out into the hallway to catch my breath. I was in shock. How long had I been gone? Where did I really go? What had happened to this house?
I looked out the window and watched the snow falling. Wait! Snow? It was summer. Hot high summer. And now there was snow? I went to the front door, and sure enough there were kids walking down the street, singing carols as they went. There was a good few inches of snow covering our yard. I looked back at our house and the fading cracked paint job had become pristine, and bright. Everything was clean and new. I looked up and down the street for our moving truck but it was nowhere to be found.
I looked up into our tall trees along the side yard and realized that they were shaking. Shaking and laughing.
I stood out there for a while. Not knowing whether or not to go back inside. I was strangely comfortable, albeit a touch chilled. There was even a sense of relief. Snowflakes touched my eyelashes and as I blinked, I reached up to rub my eyes. I could still smell the dust on my skin. The dust that burns.