The Weight of Time
by Dana Hadleigh
by Dana Hadleigh
The door swung open, groaning on rusted hinges. A shaft of light spilled across the pitted floors as dead leaves scuttled with the breeze. A smell of smoke still lingered in the air as well as a deep musty odor of small animals and droppings.
She stepped inside the house dodging a large cobweb that swelled and sunk like a breath. All was dim and silent. Pocketing the key, she roamed the downstairs rooms, side-stepping fallen plaster, around puddles of rain and mud. The beauty of the rooms was still apparent, like the bone structure of a beautiful woman. Here and there a piece of ceiling had caved in, probably from the fire.
In the deepening gloom she headed for the upper rooms, the bedrooms of her grandparents, of her mother and sisters. Despite the damage and decay, the stairs held her weight, creaking with each step. Somewhere above she heard the sound of wings as something flew past, leaving a trail of shadows across the wall.
Each room remained as she had recalled it, nothing had been changed. Time had stopped. It had been over forty years since she had been in this house, when it had been alive and vibrant with life, with laughter. Now it was a tomb encapsulated in its grief and despair, the detritus of life.
The last room she entered with fear, fear at what she might find. The door slid open at her touch and suddenly she was surrounded by clocks, clocks of every imaginable size and shape. She stood entranced. A massive oak bed stood in the middle of the large room, her grandparents' room. Other than a set of night stands, there was nothing else but the clocks -- clocks on the walls, propped along the base of the walls, some appeared to be hanging from the rotted ceiling where bits of sky were visible, ready to come tumbling down at the slightest touch.
She picked up a tiny pocket watch that lay on the nightstand, fingering the rusted metal. Its face was smudged, some parts totally obliterated. Turning, she spotted the huge clock face that lay on the floor, probably once on the wall which was now caved in. She squatted down to look more closely at this huge timepiece whose face was smashed in on one side, obscuring the engraved black roman numerals. Someone had kicked in the face. She traced the remaining numbers, counting off in her head, wondering how many years her grandfather had sat in this house alone, alone with his frustrations and anger, possibly his love.
It had been only a few years after her last visit, when she was five, that her grandmother had packed a small bag and taken herself out the door and never returned. Neither her own mother nor her aunts had asked why. All seemed to know instinctively why, that no explanations were necessary. It wasn't discussed much over the years, only an odd referral to the incident here and there. She had not seen her grandfather since.
The stench of old clothes and death was overpowering. She walked over to the window and gazed out upon the back gardens almost invisible under weeds and other wild things. The roses she remembered were strangled, but one or two struggled, straining for the final rays of sunlight. Without realizing it, she had raised her hand up to the glass and pricked her finger on the ragged edge of glass. A tiny bead of blood oozed and dripped down her finger. It was time to leave. Now.
One last glance at the gardens. No garden of eden here, she thought. Eve had abandoned it years ago, leaving Adam to bear the weight of endless time.
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