Houses of Dust
My parents mutter of strangers and falling tiles – but I go anyway. With Molly.
The house has eaves like the Gingerbread House and the garden is thick with brambles.
Dog-ends and beer bottles litter the front room. I walk up the creaky stairs. Motes of dust float in the air. There’s a wooden crate under the window. I am afraid to open it. Molly says it contains human bones. I wonder if this is true or another of Molly’s stories.
Molly is still in the garden, attacking the nettles. I open the crate but it is empty like the house.
Yelling, I tumble down the stairs and grab Molly’s hand and together we run towards our futures.
It will be no more than a pin prick, he says.
The house smells of piss and damp. Used hypodermics, crushed beer cans; an empty vodka bottle littering the floor. There are the sounds of distant traffic, a rustle of dry leaves.
The windows are shuttered. My boyfriend’s face is pale like a daisy but outside the day is bright blue and September and already the leaves are falling.
The moment the drug enters my veins I empty out like the house.
I have driven to the tip, the charity shop, the funeral parlour and the church. Now my car is crammed with the things I will take. Only the blue curtains remain and the carpet with its coffee stain that resembles a flower. But I will always remember the house as it was – my mother sitting in the armchair, the mirror that will soon hang in my own house reflecting her face back to me.
Days pass when my heart is as empty as these old houses but on other days it is packed to the rafters with everything I have left behind.
Bronwen Griffiths is the author of two published novels and two collections of flash fiction. Her flash fiction has been widely published both online and in print anthologies, in the UK and USA. Two of her novellas-in-flash have been short-listed/long-listed for the Bath award. She lives in East Sussex, UK. @bronwengwriter