(I am not sure how this reads but I wrote one, finally)
The house is dark. I sit inside in the loft and look out at the night time street-scape. People pass by, at all hours, and I wonder where they are going. Are they meeting their special someone or a group of friends? Are they off to a movie or to dinner? Why do they let out a laugh, or brush tears away thinking they are unseen?
There are many people in this city. So many. How many I do not know, but probably hundreds and thousands. The house where I am is old, old but strong, with a heritage order that keeps it in place while apartment buildings soar above it. It used to be the largest, grandest house in the street - in a time when things mattered.
People in this city live to work, rushing here and there during the day. They seek entertainment at night, thinking their laughter is genuine, not knowing it rings hollow.
People raise their families, nesting high in their apartments, worrying about their young ones, divorcing their partners, and living day-to-day. Not a thought about tomorrow. Afraid of other people, of the strangeness of others unlike them. Some spending their evenings online while children slept, some more at home working late far away.
They say my house looks lonely, but loneliness can be a state of mind. You can be all alone and happy in solitude, or you could be walking in the peak hour crowd feeling isolated. Hundreds of people not looking at each other, not caring at all for anyone except themselves, living like they are the only person on the planet. People who could just turn away and ignore a murder in broad daylight, and claim to see nothing.
I know this because I have been there. Life gets messy, and staying on top of it can be a never-ending battle. The only one you can rely on in the end is yourself. Those partners that claim to love you, will one day ignore you on the street. Those close-knit family members will move away, calling occasionally, sending Christmas cards, and in the main forget you. You have only yourself.
My house is lonely. I am lonely. It is a pain that lingers longer than any other, like a hunger that is never satisfied. No one comes to the house, no one calls, no one sends any cards. The wind whistles through the alleys made by the towering apartments and reminds me of how lonely I am.
My house used to be full of people. Full of laughter, full of love. That was then, now is different. This house used to mean something to this town. To this city. It has lost most of what it had.
The lights will go on in the morning, and the curator will open it for the public. My house where I was married, bore children, lost children, lost my husband, lost my life. They say there are no such things as ghosts, and yet I am here. Lonely and lost. Longing for connection, and never finding any. People didn’t even visit the museum, not often, and I drift among my old furniture, remembering my lost life, as invisible as air.
“I hate this place!” She said, trying not to wake the baby in the next room. Her husband was tired and as frustrated as she was. She wished she was back in the small town where her parents lived, where she grew up. Where all her friends still lived.
The apartment was cold, plain, and stark. The ornaments were a show for any business people who came to visit, not for her tastes. Black and white was the colour scheme, for practical reasons, Tom said. Not just in the lounge room, but everywhere in the house. She missed the reds and the yellows and the blues and the greens that had mingled themselves warmly in her parent’s house. A bit chaotic and not practical at all, but friendly and inviting all the same.
“We have only been here a week, Meg. Give it a chance.”
“It’s all very well for you. You have a job to go to, meetings to attend, dinners to be invited to,” Meg said. “I am tired of being lonely and forgotten here.”
“You agreed that you wanted to stay home with the baby,” he said.
“I don’t know how to help you.”
“Tom, I miss you. The baby is so young, and the routine we have is boring. All my friends are back home. And you are out all night, at work.”
Tom sighed. “I don’t need this from you, Meg. I work to support you and the baby, and all I get from you in return are complaints. Babies are hard, but we knew it would be hard. You knew it would be hard.”
“I love you, Tom. Shouldn’t I have some time alone with my husband? I’m a wife, not just a mother.”
“Go to bed, you’re tired. I am going back to work for a few hours. I have deadlines to meet,” he said, dismissively. “I work all day, and come home to a disaster zone with a nagging wife berating me over nothing.”
She didn’t say goodbye and went to her room. The door slammed as Tom left the apartment, and the baby startled, beginning to wail. She sat on the bed and watched the baby work herself into a state, before brushing aside her own tears and lifting her into her arms.
Meg blinked back the tears and decided she was crying over nothing. Tom was a great husband and this was a great opportunity for him. She was being selfish and controlling as he had told her in the past. She felt so lonely, and isolated, homesick, and hopeless.
What a pitiful mother she had become, in only two weeks! She’d better pull her socks up or Tom would leave her and her newborn. Lonely and lost was life and she had to come to terms with it. She missed her old life, her old job, her friends, her family.
They say these streets are dangerous, the old lady thought to herself, sheltering on her sheet of cardboard, wrapped in her sleeping bag. Never saw it myself.
Sure she had seen young teens commit murder for a few coins, a few overdoses in her alley, and talked to a few ladies of the night. Didn’t make it any more dangerous than any other street.
She didn’t talk to anyone that didn’t talk to her. She minded her own business and trusted few if any. Food was found at charity doors and life was a struggle. It had always been that way, or so it felt. No one bothered her, not really. She had nothing of value to steal.
She had once had a husband and a family. She’d even had a house before the fire had burnt it down and condemned it. But the husband had moved on, the children had moved out, and she had been left with nothing. She had stopped paying insurance. The fire had taken everything and she had no money to replace anything.
Life had made her hard. Being softer got you nowhere, and people tried but no help was really offered. None that worked in her favour. She used to feel lonely, and she used to feel alone. A little lost in the drama of her misfortunes.
She knew she was better off from most though. Drugs and alcohol had never been a temptation and she had gotten no friends by pointing out the dangers of them to others. Morals and manners were something to insist upon, regardless of her position, but not many would put up with it. Old school thinking was scoffed at, leaving her offended most of the time.
She had been lonely and lost, but that was a luxury she couldn’t afford. It was better to be alone, to rely on yourself and no one else. No one could betray you then, and toughness was the only thing that kept people going on the streets. Emotions were a weakness. Loneliness was an indulgence.