I glimpsed into a house, passing by on my evening ride.
Through the open window, I saw a soft and warm light, welcoming and telling. Telling me all the things in that house and all the quiet secrets of the corners. Dark and dreary or level and light, I began to see them all. I could see a wall of pictures, old memories and long, drawn faces. Gathering layers and layers of dust, building colonies and townships and skyscrapers with the volume of dust at their fingertips. If they could dream it, they could create it. So the pictures built an infrastructure, connected by thin spider webs. Delicate causeways that could collapse at the most careful touch. So don’t touch. Just listen.
Listen to the crunching footsteps. I imagined them walking a thousand miles over the same hallway, back and forth. Back and forth. Wearing roads into the carpet, a left and a right lane. I assume the hallway has an end but to my eye it seemed endless. Maybe those two lanes take you to hell and back. See your potential end then come back and try to fix it. And you better fix it or maybe one day you won’t come back.
I see there is a chair and flashing television. And in the chair is a woman – she is old and frail. I can tell by the back of her white hair and gnarled hand. Her hand that probably touched a thousand foreheads and opened just as many cans of tuna. Hovering over the remote control although she will never change the channel.
And that is what I see. For the next day and the next and the next. Until one evening ride, the television is off and the warm light is turned off. The picture frames are asleep; if the faces could close their eyes they would. But they are lost in limbo where they can sleep yet be aware, twitching at the creaks and cracks of the house. Suspended in that moment of the past yet living in the present.
I see a cool illumination of a white face, there for an instant then gone again. I blink and my stomach lurches. It was nothing. But this nothing comes back for the next day and the next and the next. Always in the center of the room, hand on the headrest of the chair. A gnarled hand, white now with a different kind of pallor. I drive by slower and slower until one day our eyes meet and I know there is no going back.
Because I can no longer just drive by – I must go see for myself. I stop in the daylight and look through the open window. The living room is illuminated enough by the sun that I can see all the things that before I had just glimpsed. The mountains of dust and roadways in the carpet. The forlorn pictures stuck to the wall for ages and ages. And I was right about it all, except there is no white face on the other side of the milky glass, looking back at me. Maybe I had imagined it, exaggerating the things I dream are living in the rooms of strangers. I take one last look and see myself in the reflection of the window glass.