I expect the house to be just over the rise in the road and it is. Odd how we expect things to be where we last saw them; houses and trees, and things like that, and when they aren’t there anymore reality seems more fragile and perception unsure. The house is off the road, just a bit, enough to keep the dust down if someone took a truck back here, but close enough if someone ever decided to live here again, they could use the road to get to the main highway, which is quite a distance away. As rustic as it sounds, it takes a certain type of person to live in the woods. Most people think they want to live in the country but they don’t. This house is still livable, with some work, but mostly it would be inconvenient to live here, for most people.
There’s no way to find out what happened to whoever lived here before, and no way that I can ever really know, but when I stand in front of the house I get the feeling that a couple lived here, no children, and they were planning a family… But that’s as much as I get. There’s a blank space after that and nothing else comes through. No sorrow, no happiness, no tragedy, and no great hopes or fears. It’s as if they moved to a new home and left this one, maybe he got a job, or maybe they moved in with her parents, but I don’t get a feeling for it.
I go inside and there’s an old chair, and someone’s left a turquoise colored jacket on the back of it. It’s an article of clothing a woman would wear, if she looked good in this color, and not all women do, you know. She would have to have blue eyes, perhaps, or dark hair, maybe both, and as I pick the jacket up I see the inside is pale red, but not really pink, and it has paisley patterns inside of it, in black. It’s a pretty thing, and rather small, whoever wore it was not a big woman at all. There is something in one of the pockets but I resist looking for now. It’s a note of some sort and may be personal.
She would be a woman who educated herself, who read a lot, and who listened a lot, too. She would like to write, by hand and with no one else in the same room, and she would write poetry, yet never allow it to be read aloud. There would be poems about the sunset, a series of them, that reflected the colors of the sky yet be tinged with the fleetingness of life. She would be good at it, oh damn good, and she would scribble notes on a small pad during the day and refer to them later, and sometimes, be surprised by the notes, as if she didn’t remember writing them.
She would sit on the steps of the house and write in the early morning light with coffee, and starlight, and nothing else. Maybe even nude except for the jacket, and there would be a secret delight in the sensation of bare flesh on the brick steps, a cool feeling on parts of her body that she would keep covered with clothes except when she was writing poems, or with her partner, and then she would set it free to feel either the extreme hardness of heat or the less potent rigidity of brick. She would compare the two, in a poem, the bricks that are used to build the steps to a house, and the blood used to build the solid passion of a man, and she would grin at the analogy as she wrote it. There would be mischief in this woman, but no malice, and no sense of pettiness.
I put the jacket back, and want to read the note in the pocket. Maybe there’s a poem in there, and one of my life’s deepest regrets is putting a journal I had found back where I found it, on a bridge. I should have kept it, for it had been rained on, and I might have been able to save it from extinction. It would have taken a while, but the rain blurred words and letters might have revealed themselves to me in time. What if she left the jacket and won’t come back for it?
I leave the house, and walk towards my own home, and it is not very far at all, and the thought occurs that one day someone might find something I’ve written and wonder who wrote it and what sort of person I was. Maybe they’ll wonder if the woman and I were related, married, she my daughter or me her brother, and I wonder now, at this point, how she and I are connected, except through the jacket and the note in the pocket.
The sky darkens and I hurry, anxious not to be caught by a storm, and then it strikes me that the note might be for me, and it might have been left there for me to read. I turn around and walk back, as the rain falls, first as drops and then as tiny hammers, and the wind picks up. There’s no way of seeing the road clearly now, it has grown dark and the rain falls like it is being poured out of the sky. The house comes into view and I hurry, trying to get inside before it is too late, but it is too late.
The sky is still dark when I wake up and the house is gone. The jacket is no more, except in my mind, and I will go to my grave wondering if I could have read the note, and what the woman might have said to me if I would have read it. Perhaps, now, I will write a note, and leave it in a pocket for someone else to read, if they dream.