It was midnight. Everyone was asleep. I was coming back home, walking away from the lights of the main streets. The street I lived in was always dark. The distributor of electric energy never really bothered with fixing the streetlights. Honestly, I did not mind. I enjoyed the darkness, it was soothing. When I reached my house, I started looking for my keys. I was going through my pockets, and when I finally felt them under my fingers, I dropped them on the ground. As I got down to pick my keys up, my eyes stopped at the House on the corner across the street. It was still there, in all its glory. I stood up, leaned on my fence and simply started gazing at it.
The House was of gothic style, nearly a century old. It was a strange construction. The base was made of stone and the upper floor and the attic were made of wood. The roof was high, with sharp edges and a drainpipe that had small tin gargoyles on each corner. The windows were round, built in the shape of a rose motif, with coloured glass. The House was there as long as I can remember. Growing up, my friends and I used to play in front of it, but we never dared to enter the House. There was something haunting about it. Although, one day I decided that I was brave enough to get closer it and write my name on the wall, just below one of the windows. Surprisingly, in ten years, no rain, no snow and no wind managed to wash my name away. It was still present, my sloppy handwriting and two lines that I underlined it with. Personally, it fascinated and frightened me at the same time. And those sentiments remained with me till this day. I did not know who built it, or who lived in it. It was always abandoned, empty House at the street corner. It was shrouded with solemn silence, hiding in the shade of an oak tree, probably as old as the House.
The House had many faces. In the darkness of the night it looked like a monstrosity, ancient and obscure. When it rained, the House was crying. But, when the sun was setting, the dusk would invite all the colours to dance on the walls of the House. The House would appear fresh and new, the way it was once. For me, it was always more than a building. It was a reminder of past times, and it was a friend. There was a time when I was obsessed with it. Often, when I would get back home from school and hurry to my room, because my window had the best view on the House. When I was sad, the House was, too. And when I would jump on my bed, happy and excited for a new comic book, the House was smiling at me, full of supporting warmth.
Yet, as years passed, the time left traces on the House. Every window was broken, with no glass, and walls were crumbling a little bit each day. Tiles were falling off the roof, and the wood was rotting in the attic. During summer storms I would watch as the House battled against the wind, rocking back and forth and producing noise that sounded like screaming. It seemed to me that it could collapse at any moment. And on spring mornings, the breeze would break into the rooms of the House and I woke up to the sound of air howling through the hollow structure.
With memories of the House on my mind, I went to bed. A busy day was waiting for me, and I had to be well rested. I had to finish my seminar paper, work my shift in the restaurant, and then pay all the bills that arrived. And, of course I had my football practice. I enjoyed the game very much, as it helped me keep my mind off of my problems. Before I fell asleep, I remembered that a friend of mine mentioned that the House was going to be demolished soon. An industrialist bought the property and found it perfectly fitting for his new brick factory. The House was unfortunately standing between him and his pursue of enterprise. It was injustice and it felt cheap. There was so much history in and around the House, and all of that was going to be taken down because of someone’s business expansion. It was humiliating. The home of my imagination and my dreams was facing a grim fate.
It came to my mind that I should write a petition for the preservation of the House. The problem was that only I seemed to care about it. My neighbours would say that it was an abomination and that it was about time it got destroyed. I was alone, lonely as the House, and I knew that my fight would be futile. There was nothing I could do.
The next morning I woke up and discovered that the construction workers had already arrived. They brought all of their machines and blueprints, getting ready for the demolition. I could not stay and watch, because I had to go to work. The day was passing slowly. At the restaurant, the older waiters told me that I looked disorganized and absent. They were not wrong. All I could think about was the House. I could not wait until my shift was over, so I could run home and maybe see the House one last time before it was gone forever. To my surprise, when I got back, I realized that the demolition did not start yet. That is when I saw my opportunity.
The House was calling me. I sneaked between the construction machines all the way to the front door. Surprisingly, no one noticed me or stopped me from going inside. The sight that opened in front of my eyes surpassed all of my expectations. Spider web was hanging from the ceiling like drapes, covering a grandiose crystal chandelier. I found it strange that no one in the entire history of the House came in there and took every piece of furniture and possible treasure. People robbed less impressive places. My tour continued, as I left the entrance hall and walked into what I supposed was the living room. It was a wide, rectangular chamber, with a fireplace built into the longest wall, and portraits on the other ones. All of the paintings were covered in dust and mostly ruined. However, I could tell that one of the portraits showed a young woman, dressed in ruby red dress, with a kind face. I had no idea who that was, but I assumed that it must have been one of the past residents. There were iron tables displayed against the walls, and old books and notebooks scattered on the floor. I picked up one notebook and took it with me. I wanted something that belonged to the House to stay with me. It was a personal journal of the architect who designed the building. I went through his writings and drawings, amazed with all the information he included.
Having returned to the entrance hall, I decided to take the stairs. The steps were squeaky and unstable, so I had to be careful not to break them. The cool air of the stone base floor stayed behind as I stepped in front of the attic door. My hand was shaking as I reached for the doorknob. The attic was brighter than I had imagined it. One round window at the front and numerous holes in the roof allowed the light to settle into the room. As I approached the window I noticed lots of boxes placed aside. They were filled with silverware, chromed lamps and porcelain plates. Someone really wealthy was the original owner of the House. I came to the window and stood in awe. The view was incredible. The landscape of the town bordering the fields, the green of the meadows blending with the blue of the sky, I could see it all. I was in the attic of the House. Few experiences in my life could match the feeling I had at that moment.
Unfortunately, as I immersed in the surroundings, I suddenly heard the engines of the machinery. The demolition had started. At first, I panicked, but then I realized I had to act fast. I stormed down the stairs, breaking the handrail, holding the journal close to my chest. The look on the workers’ faces as they watched me jump out of the dirt and debris from falling walls was priceless.
“What is wrong with you?” the worker operating the wrecking ball shouted as I ran by.
“I’m fine, sorry,” I said and jumped over my fence. I was trying to catch my breath as my heart beat rapidly. I fell on the grass in front the house. The adrenaline was still causing my blood to pump and everything around me was spinning. Within fifteen minutes, there was nothing left from the House. Dust was rising from a pile of concrete, glass, wood and stone. The workers were going through it and searched for any valuable items. I saw them discovering the silverware and place it on a truck, along with some surviving lamps. But, I was the one who had the account of the House, the story of how it came to be. Proud of my accomplishment, I opened the journal again. The date when the project was started and the one when it was finished were written down on the first page. On the second page was the drawing of the House in its full form, with the architect’s signature under it. I smiled. The House was now safe with me, and it would stay with me always.