The house at the end of the street is going through mid-life crisis.
Like a middle-aged human being, the house is experiencing a transformation.
The house needs new windows and doors. Its façade is peeling in spots, falling down to the ground in big chunks that resemble dry cereal, mixed with wet ash.
Three oversized pines ate the front yard years ago. There isn’t a single blade of grass left there, just patches of dirt and cracked cement.
In the back, several fruit trees hope to die this winter. They’ve produced nothing for ages, and their existence is futile.
The house is empty, has been for months. The last owners moved out at the end of the summer, taking their excitable kids to an apartment closer to the action in town.
The couple was young, but their souls were old and they were tired of each other after less than a decade of marriage. They will never divorce, though. They may be tired of one another, but they are also used to living together. Habit beats everything else.
Before them, a single man of undeterminable age lived in the house. He made small repairs inside, fixing doorknobs, painting walls, changing light bulbs. He had an expensive tool set, a gift from his brother living in Germany. He used it sparingly because the tools inside the box were finely made and engraved with the manufacturer’s name. It would be a shame to break or wear them out, he thought. At this rate, the tools will outlive him, and he will have no one to leave them to.
Before the man with the tools, an unmarried young couple lived in the house. They were so young fucking was a novelty. They fucked all over the house. The upstairs rooms, cold, damp, and very dark because the shutters were always closed to keep the peeping neighborhood eyes out, made the fucking so exciting it was almost dangerous. Tetanus from rusty old nails sticking out of rotting planks left by the construction workers who built the house in the early ’80s was a real possibility.
Before the fucking couple, a very large family of multiple generations occupied the downstairs rooms. They had small kids, so they avoided the bare, unfinished rooms upstairs.
The kids played in the backyard while their grandparents sat on the small terrace protruding out and away from the house.
The parents went to work, fought, ate, drank, received visitors, argued with the next-door neighbor, and worried about the leaking roof. They made no repairs, preferring to keep worrying and keep arguing.
Eventually, they brought home a dog.
The small yellow dog had dirty fur and abnormal ears. One pointed straight up, like an antenna picking up signals from outer space. The other hung limply over his snout, preventing his right eye from seeing where he was going. He regularly walked into people and parked cars. He sniffed at the cars and pissed on the tires. Their owners yelled at him and tried to kick him in the ribs.
When the family moved out, they left the dog behind. They had no need for his dirty fur and abnormal ears, because their new residence was a smaller but neater house near the town center.
The dog guarded the empty house for months. He barked at the neighbors, managing to produce only a hoarse noise that sounded more an old man clearing his throat then a dog barking.
The fucking couple found his dead body in the backyard, half decomposed under a rose bush with giant thorns and very small, shy flowers. They thought he was an old shoe, or a dirty rag with dead eyes and blackened teeth.
Before the big family with kids and the dog, the house was empty for years. It crumbled alone, silent, and in silence. Like a human, the house feared old age and counted its scars every day. Like a human, it wanted to feel life inside it.
Like a human, the house wanted a view. But the three big pines in front already took up most of the view, and the house could only look up, at the sky.
The only thing coming from above was rain. Water that found innumerable cracks between the poor-quality roof tiles and soaked the walls of the unfinished, bare rooms upstairs.