Years ago a happy young family bought this house to fill with all their dreams; these walls would watch their children grow up, this yard would be littered with toys, these trees kissed under and this gate swung on. They were so full of hope, their dreams so fresh and new, every light fitting and paint swatch an adventure.
Now their remnants cling in spiderwebs to the windows, sit gathering dust on the shelves. The faded sounds of laughter bounce off haphazard piles of photo albums and books, television glaring silently back from it’s corner. Rusted hinges and an overgrown garden, cupboards stacked with glasses and heavy silverware. Silence grows in the corners; pressing down, pressing in - a suffocating emptiness thick with memories of things lost. Victims of time; the bowls on the counter, the coffee table they swore they’d come back for, the shoes in the hallway. A life abandoned and so seldom remembered.
I used to think of this kitchen and picture my mother standing by the window as the sun rose, drinking a hot chocolate and reading the paper. Now the bench is thick with grime, newspapers yellowing in a pile by the stairs. The street had been our playground, air crisp with fire smoke as dusk settled and our parents called us for dinner - now there are too many cars and playing on the road is dangerous. I try to think back to the last time I heard the gate slam shut behind me, and all I see are the thousand times that were not first, nor last, nor anything special. Times before my cat died and the weeds smothered the flowers, when the leaves were swept and the walls were clean. When sunset meant sitting on the veranda and weekends meant takeaway and pancakes, when these rooms were full of life.
If I had only known, I would have savored every breath and laugh that little bit more; pressed them to my face like soft blankets, held them like precious crystal. Life has been too fast.