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Alone It May Stand

and empty it will wither

By Nicole FennPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
Alone It May Stand
Photo by Martin Dalsgaard on Unsplash

What is it about the mossy wet wooden planks that hold the skeleton of a rotting humbling abode and the cob-web, dust-riddled windows that create so much wonder? It’s the feeling that affects me, which I cannot explain. It’s the beauty of the chipped paint and the discolored peeling wallpaper. It’s the disorganization of the strewn furniture that is pleasing to the eye. Yet what one would see is nothing but chaos and a tragic misfortune upon what was once called home. What I see is nothing more than history preserved. The house or estate is a simple reminder of a time that was; but now it sees months, years pass even after the fact. Abandoned it may be, alone it may stand, but never forgotten for memories still pace through its halls.

The crooked signs read Do Not Enter, constantly tempting my desire and my curiosity. I cannot ignore them, the simple blood-red words painted on the picket signs; it’s like a neon pub light flashing in my face. I constantly remember catching myself specifically searching for them upon passing through older towns. I would almost get excited when I would find one, immediately directing my attention to the building or acre behind the sign. The car would almost pass by as if in slow motion, the scene of the building frozen in time. Although time doesn’t stop in abandoned buildings, it just moves differently. Just as it decays, slowly, almost intimately as nature reclaims the very soul the building still holds even after its abandonment. It’s a deliberate and sorrowful death, but a very mystifying and beautiful demise nonetheless.

Even in slow motion, time moves quicker than anticipated. Before my brain has the chance to admire the cracked wood or missing bricks, the car has passed, the only vision of the eyesore now in the past where it originally belongs. As much as I mourn for the building and my lack of time to appreciate the structure of memories disintegrating before my very eyes, I move on, realizing that this world is overflowing with memorable yet forgotten locations.

As I keep telling myself this, I’ve started to joke with and tease this thought. It’s turning into a dream, a desire, a quest to explore as many of these locations as physically and mentally as possible. Armed with nothing but MapQuest, and my Canon Rebel camera, I envision myself visiting Poveglia, Pripyat, Pennhurst Asylum, Jazzland (Six Flags New Orleans)—and for a second visit—Eastern State Penitentiary. The list could go on, the locations not specific but rather random. An abandoned house alongside the road could be as grand as a haunted asylum. It’s the story that I can tell through pictures, and the recordings of events in journals of mental experiences, how the emptiness and eerily quiet atmosphere creates a disturbing loudness.

It’s the understanding I can create for others who observe all these stunning photos. The notion is that I’m standing there with the camera pointed down an empty hallway; the floor is littered with debris from the decomposing walls and ceiling. The walls appear to be closing in as the end of the hall stretches further and further away, the light at the end of it nearly impossible to reach. That, or the light and all visibility fade into the darkness at the end of the hall, waltzing shadows beckoning to the presence at the opposite end to come and explore what’s beyond the unknown. That is just a taste of reality while positioned in an abandoned house but, if one’s mind was allowed to wander and look beyond what is in material form, one would find that there’s a certain movement and shift in the thick grime ridden air.

Another perspective is one that is overlooked, it’s an angle that must be viewed from the eyes of what—or who—was once present. The photograph doesn’t change; the same hallway still haunts the image, debris plaguing the floors. However, the light at the end of the hall grows brighter, as if the mind is caught in the borderline between reality and memory. The dust dances in the air as the wind sweeps it, the particles blurring the focus of the camera. A little girl is seen at the end of the hall through the lens. She grips onto a teddy bear and listens to the conversation on the other side of a closed door. The walls around her are light and radiant, the patterns on the wallpaper glare in the sun shining through the windows. The waxed wooden floors creak under her small feet as she runs from one end of the hall to the other. The atmosphere is hazy while the border is distorted. The camera is lowered to see the little girl is gone; the air is clear and real. The dust settles while the sun disappears behind the blotted and cracked windows, all is quiet again.

All is never still, however, that same little girl still runs through those halls. Her pigtails bouncing with the teddy bear in her small pure hands, but no one sees her. Her memory is indivisible, seen by only those who understand and see beyond the decaying façade. That same building in which people call a blot on the landscape was once a home, a school, a hospital, a place that required shelter; a basic human necessity. So as creepy and haunting as one would assume an abandoned building is, it is only a postulation. They don’t see the beauty of memories, and the way some recollections can be preserved in such dying conditions. Each forgotten building is reclaimed, however, nature restoring the landscape and creating a spectacular death.

Short Story

About the Creator

Nicole Fenn

Young, living - thriving? Writing every emotion, idea, or dream that intrigues me enough to put into a long string of words for others to absorb - in the hopes that someone relates, understands, and appreciates.

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