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A Disappearing World

By Sukie HarperPublished 5 months ago 3 min read
Photo by BASIL ANAS on Unsplash

At the corner of the highway intersection, very out of place, there used to be an old, dilapidated house that stood lost just at the edge of a small forest. The house had been there before the roads, before the scent of asphalt had even graced the air, before the first blades had touched the trees. I'm sure it was once a strong house, constructed of the very trees that surrounded; beautifully painted, with new nails and screws. At one point in time, it had to have been the newest house ever built.

But, by the time I had seen it, it was old. Older than old, really. Its floorboards were rotting, and its walls had been worn down by years of rain and wind. Holes stood in its roof like Swiss cheese, birds had made their nests in between the layers of wood and thatch- surely raising their young in the rafters. The stink of mold and mildew could be smelled from inside the cars that passed by.

My nana had told me, that a family had lived in that house for as long as it had been built, always the same family. Good people, she said. They would raise each new generation within its ever-deteriorating walls, and patch here and there when they could, but something had happened within the last generation that had put a halt to their tradition. A son had been born. A sweet man, she told me, but something not right in his attic. He'd been born with a soft mind. "He could do what he was told, most of the time, but much past that..." she would trail off.

His brother, a good man, had sacrificed the building of his own life to care for him. He'd never taken a wife, nor raised any children. The tending of his brother had taken up too much time for that. In the end, he had grown alongside him with no one to care for the house; their sister wanting nothing to do with its maintenance. I used to see them both sitting on the porch, as my nana and I would drive by on our way to the city store. We would wave, and they would wave in turn. One and then the other shortly after.

Then one day, I only saw one.

The good man had passed on, I was explained. He had left behind only his brother, and the house. I remember my nana telling me this with such heartache, that at the time I couldn't understand. A wistful sense of loss in her eyes that didn't quite fit. The man would be okay in my mind, I was sure his brother had taught him how to take care of himself, and however old his house was, it still stood.

My nana had known something that I did not. She, having grown alongside the disappearing forest, knew what had taken the trees. She knew what children did not- that a house wasn't as important, as the dirt it stood on. Soon, the land that the old house resided upon was purchased. The house was considered condemned, and demolished. And the trees, well, the last of the trees soon disappeared.

I would see the soft man walking around the highway for some time after that. Wandering around and looking for a world that wasn't there anymore. Trees replaced by asphalt and a home lost to nothing. And then, one day, I didn't see him at all. He was gone too, like his brother and the home they had shared. I missed him. This man I never knew, but to wave as I passed.

Shortly after he disappeared, a church was built on the land. A cowboy church. They covered the ground in gravel and rock for the parking lot of their parishioners, and I can't help but feel the ground was better served by trees and that old, condemned house.


About the Creator

Sukie Harper

I like to put pieces of myself into my writing. Sometimes it's a finger, sometimes a toe, but it's always something that gets stuck to the roof of your mouth and leaves a lingering feel in your gut.

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