What could bring a man to this decision, this place, this moment, two storeys of memories standing before him as he stared hopelessly at the dilapidated facade, the collection of bricks and mortar looking as unwanted as the memories held within. That photographic window into the past was the cause of this misdeed, as heavy for him as the crumbling archaic stone work that overshadowed the front door, yet it was as slight as the creased photo tight in his grip.
The photo felt like something old and the faces in it older still, two people very much in love is what he wanted to say but the truth was something less ‘emotional’ the meaning of that word ‘love’ always having some comparison to a poison or a drug now a days. He remembered been in that house when it was filled with ‘love’ or whatever his sub-human existence recognised it as, as for her, he couldn’t hazard a guess as to what her own views were on the matter.
The picture had been taken on a webcam, the focus was a little off but the image was clear enough as two people joked around in front of a camera lens, without any idea of just how intently their demons would try to destroy any notion of happiness. He wasn’t a bad person, he was everything life expected him to be, followed the rules, he even managed to appear human on occasion but as the photo reminded him of happier times, the pale semi-shaven face and black bags under his eyes reminded him it amounted to nothing.
From his first step into that cursed building he could smell the acidic reek of emotions burn his senses, throughout the house there were many marks set into the discoloured plaster and the disseminating cracks that radiated from those stress fuelled impacts, a fitting tribute to how these events in his life had spread their ill after affects to every hopeful endeavour since. From having dug it out that fateful Thursday the image had haunted him, even more than her rejection that she had delivered with such poisonous prose.
She was perfect of course, I mean she had her demons which could reduce anybody else to a depressive mess, but that’s why he ‘loved’ her even though it had led to the crushing hell that with every romance since had become the norm. His heart had become like the house that stood empty, abandoned, bare faded walls showing the evidence of neglect and abuse as a spider silently scurried out of a cracked window, unaffected by the cold breeze that the broken glass and the ageing frame with its cracking paint let in. When even the insects abandoned the carcase, it was a sign…
As his grip loosened on the faded paper that reminded him of both the happiness she had given him, the despair her absence had left him in, he felt not the chill of the air but a more vicious chill of something a lot more familiar. When he was younger and full of hope he would have already moved on to some new and fantastic project, something to distract himself from the more depressing aspects of his life, but now it was only when he was sinking into that depressive haze that he could face such a situation, such a choice.
Messing around with his laptop, showing the only lady in his life to whom he could speak honestly (well, more or less anyway) he had without knowing it got the only photo of her that he possessed, a glimpse of a moment in time that now lay in the gathered dirt, on the floor that evidently hadn’t been cleaned for quite some time. The only evidence he had ever been human, left behind as time began to cover his freshly laid footsteps, even more infused with the sense of nothingness he had entered with.
What had drawn him into that place, what ghosts had beckoned him to times best left behind, was it her voice he had heard or just the wind rattling through the broken windows of an empty building. And with her face fresh in his mind at the source of his biggest mistake, that was to trust and open his heart without the scepticism of his advanced years to protect him, where better to bury his demons once and for all.
As he tied the rope around one of the few remaining banister poles, sat upon the creakingly old banister itself as if to give life the chance to do what it had been too much of a coward to do so far, the only words that came to mind were those on the back of the photo. Gravity like a merciful force did its work, the final satisfaction of knowing life would be deprived of one of its greatest jokes.
And the words on the back of the photo…