Archived: The House by Marian Hesse

She opened the door and walked quietly into the house.  The place was completely still, and the sound of the train on 4th street was barely audible.  Each step created a small puff of dust and left the tread of her sneakers visible behind her.  There was a faint muskiness of wood and plaster in the air, something newer houses never had. A loud creak caused her to turn her head quickly to her left- but there was nothing there, just the fireplace with some remnants of logs and ash.

She gasped as a sudden burst of a car horn from the house next door blared.  The car roared away and the silence descended as the car moved into the distance.

Being in the house was so odd after all of the years away.  The house seemed smaller, and, at the same time, the emptiness was vast.


The car horn had been so unsettling, it was hard to concentrate as she went upstairs to her old bedroom. This was her space, the only time she had had her own room. She slid open the closet door, there were still a few hangars hanging in there.  As she did when she was younger, she sat on the floor of the closet with her back against the wall and shut the door partway. There was a comfort to the old carpet on the floor, the smell of the air, and the sanctity of the silence.  The first tear was unnoticeable, as her head was tilted back against the wall.  As she became aware of the unexpected dampness, she began to cry harder.  The realization that she was crying brought more tears and soon she was trying to stifle the sounds of her crying as it was intruding on the calm silence she had been feeling. She wished her cat was here, but he had been gone for decades.  He used to be the one she could tell her troubles to and never feel judged.

As the house settled back into silence with the end of the tearful interlude, she went back outside.



As I opened the door, I was caught off guard by the utter silence in the house. I could barely hear the 10 am train on the 4th street once I got inside.  Maybe I had never realized what a sturdy place it was.  Walking across the floor I could see my feet sending up puffs of dust and my tracks appearing behind me.  The house had an abandoned dry empty space smell, almost as if no one had ever lived there. Clearly, no one had been in here for a long while. At the sound of a loud creak, I felt my heart race and jerked my head to the left.  Nothing was there, just fireplace, which still had remnants of wood and ash in it.  A sudden blast of a car horn made me jump as the sound filled the house like a burst of adrenaline.  As the house settled back into silence, I went upstairs to my old bedroom.  There was still the blue and purple carpet I had picked out and loved, though it had faded to a muted gray color.  This had been my own space, the only time I had ever had my own privacy. I slid open the door to the closet and sank down into the carpet.  With my back against the wall, I relished the comforting old smell in the air and the sanctity of the silence. Oddly, I soon noticed I was feeling dampness on my face and realized I was crying. It was if a dam had been unleashed and unexpectedly, I was sobbing into the vast emptiness of my old bedroom closet.  It was the sort of crying that you see other people do and you wonder what is wrong with them and I wasn’t that kind of person.  My life was too busy, and I was a professional woman, I didn’t do crying. Until now, apparently.  I remembered my cat used to keep me company here in my private childhood sanctuary.  I could tell him all of my problems and be rewarded with a purr and no judgement. Now all I had was an empty house and buried memories.

As silence descended once again, I decided to return to the lower level.



Walking down the street, she clutched her coat around her and noticed the Open House sign.  The day was bright and sunny, with a chill of winter to come in the light breeze knocking down the first bright leaves of autumn. The house had a pleasant aspect, and the door was unlocked.  There were voices in the basement, probably the agent showing the media room with a large screen television. The great room had an appealing vanilla scent that reminded her of chocolate chip cookies. She wandered into the master bedroom and was impressed with the tidy layout of the furniture.  Open and spacious with high ceilings, it looked perfect, like a place in Modern Home magazine.  The oversized bathroom had a whirlpool tub, and the turquoise towels and mats were appealing.

She checked the tub for water pressure and let it run on high for a while.


After leaving the older home, I continued walking.  After being indoors, I felt a definite chill from the breeze, though the day was sunny.  The leaves falling slowly from the trees were mesmerizing and each landed gently on the ground.  After a few blocks, I saw a pleasant house with an Open House sign and thought I’d stop in, just to warm up a bit.  This looked like the kind of place Alec would like. Unassuming on the outside, yet welcoming.  The door was unlocked, and I could hear the agent downstairs talking, presumably showing off a media room.  The house smelled of chocolate chip cookies and there was a plate with a few cookies on it next to the sign in sheet.  I selected a cookie and signed in Dana and Alec   and went down the hall into the master bedroom.  The cavernous cathedral ceiling gave an echo to the engineered wood floors as I walked through.  My dusty shoes left prints on the floor.  The bathroom had Alec’s favorite peacock color in its towels and bathmats.  Alec was always a fanatic about water pressure, so I turned on the whirlpool to see if it was strong and hot.  The steaming water looked very inviting, and I was still feeling chilly.  As I set my purse down, I saw a small bottled inside and picked it up- Alec McKinney. A few pills were left inside, Alec took these to feel better- they looked a bit like white Skittles, so I thought I’d take a few to see if the chills stopped.  By now the tub was full of hot water.  I decided I would be warmer in the hot water, so I got in and was soon enveloped by the warmth of my coat and clothes in the hot water.  I was feeling sleepy and pleasantly weighted down and just thought I ‘d rest in the water for a while.  I could hear voices from a distance, and I thought I heard Alec calling me.


The sirens of the ambulance were like an unexpected burst of adrenaline in silence of the neighborhood. The leaves continued to fall quietly in the bright light of the sun. The train near 4th street blared a warning signal to traffic in the area.

Biography: I never even thought about writing until reading about a certain wizarding school.  The author had a great idea and brought it to fruition. An addictive reader is a person who is compelled by written language to read anything in front of them. I’ll follow almost any plot to the bitter end.  I’ve never kept a journal and haven’t had a writing class. Languages and words are fun, and I enjoy the sound, feel, and look of words. Reading a lot doesn’t make one a writer.  However, arranging words in ways that stimulate images in the mind, or feelings in the brain is an absorbing process. I am fascinated by the process and stimulated by the results.