Saturday, June 14, 2008

And the Winner is...

I had a contest on my Deviant Art site, challenging my Watchers to create a prose or poem describing this scene:

Kira73 won with this beautiful & sad tale:


As I walked down the quaint main street of my hometown, I wondered to myself if things could possibly get any worse, although I knew the answer already. They couldn’t. I had sunk as low as I could go.

Living with my parents at forty-one wasn’t exactly what I had aspired to do with my life. Who would? After college, I had landed a job at one of the most prestigious emerging software companies on the West Coast. Shortly after moving to California, I met a woman who loved me enough to take her vows with me, and we made three wonderful children together. We had a beautiful house in the suburbs with two fancy BMW's in the driveway. Life couldn’t have been better. But somewhere along the way, I had screwed up and lost everything. A failure at all that I had achieved and held dear to me those many years ago.

Coming home was my only choice. It was either that or surviving on the streets somewhere in Los Angeles. Even my friends had refused to help me out after things got out of hand. So the decision to move back in with the folks wasn’t that difficult. I missed Mom’s southern cooking, anyway, and she missed her only child. 'Her little boy', she still called me. Dad was a little less than enthusiastic about it, but he kept his mouth shut about my problems and agreed to let me stay with them rent free. He understood my issues personally. But there was one condition to our arrangement…I had to go to these ridiculous get-togethers two times a week. And tonight was my first one.

Once I arrived at the one and only Presbyterian church in town, I hesitated, checking my watch. Ten minutes early. Making uncomfortable small talk with a bunch of strangers while we all waited for this thing to start was not exactly what I had in mind for a Friday night. But neither was being here in the first place. So I stalled, using a smoke as my excuse not to go inside. I lit up my cigarette, inhaled its bargain basement flavor and exhaled, a cough soon accompanying it. I am never going to get used to this habit...especially when this is all I can afford. The light breeze blew the smoke back into my eyes, causing them to tear along with the hacking. Embarrassed at being the novice smoker that I was, I turned my back to the wind. And that’s when I noticed it on the opposite side of the street.

Hidden beneath layers of vines and weeds lie a house which had seen better days. Much better days. What a dump! For some reason, the original occupants had decided to abandon the place, leaving it to be taken over by its surroundings. I wondered why. Maybe they decided living in an older home was too much? Maybe they just gave up? Whatever the case was, after they had left the gnarled vines had slowly crept onto and even into the dwelling, strangling the supports which held it up and rendering it uninhabitable. I shook my head at the horrid eyesore. Something seriously needed to be done about the place and its troubles. Not only was it unattractive, but it could be a danger to anyone who went near it. Which, oddly, is exactly what I felt compelled to do. After throwing my cheap half-smoked cigarette to the ground, I crossed the two lane street to take a closer look.

On further inspection of the has-been, I noticed through the glassless windows that the insides were gutted. Empty. Just weary studs and trusses stood where walls once would have been, and I could see further evidence of Nature’s invasion wrapped around the frail timbers. This place seemed to weep in front of me, and for some reason I felt obligated to see more of its unfortunate predicament. I went around the side of the house and soon discovered the kitchen, which I could see clearly through a gaping hole in the disintegrating exterior wall. At least I assumed it was the kitchen, although it bore no resemblance to a cheery area for gatherings. Rusted cast iron pipes throughout the open walls hinted that water once ran to this room. But there was no sink, cabinets, counters or even flooring for that matter. Just oxidation and vines. Vast masses of those smothering vines. Like a deliberate lingering sickness, they had completely taken over and claimed this building as their own.

Looking down, I caught a glimpse of numerous pale bugs as they scurried across the gray cedar boards of the broken outer wall. It took me a few moments to recognize what they were. Termites. Since the vines had ripped the skin of the house apart, it was no problem for the nasty creatures to get within the soft rotting wood, eating away at the house from the inside out. It was the final stage of the disease for this home…there was no hope left. This place might as well be dead.

I was sure at one point in time, this house was beautiful. Friendly. A place where people wanted to be. But years of neglect and abuse had taken their ultimate toll on it, leaving it unsafe, hollow and dilapidated. I couldn’t help but feel pity for the house. It was at the mercy of the elements, helpless to its doomed plight as it stood in eternal and progressive disrepair. It couldn’t do a thing about its problems.

But I could…

Sighing, I accepted this simple truth. I could do something. But did I want to travel that road? It would not be easy and I knew it. But if I could get back a small piece of what I had lost, it would be worth it. Wouldn't it? I made my decision and crossed the street once more.

Many curious eyes focused on me as I entered the church's activity hall, somehow much later than I had intended. Several rows of folding chairs were filled with people, some of whom I recognized from my youth. They all make this look so easy. Seeming to sense my nervousness, the leader smiled warmly and directed me to have a seat. So I did while the rest of the gathering stared on, waiting for an introduction from the newbie. After a few awkward moments of silence, I swallowed the lump in my throat and took my first step.

“Hello. My name is Robert…and I am an alcoholic.”

©2008 *Kira73

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