The small hand of the clock is on eleven, I reach over to the night stand for a flashlight–without it a long dark trek to the bathroom would lie before me–a daunting route for a five year old from her childhood bed in her Granny’s home.
Outside the sky is bright for this time of night, but that’s how it always is in the middle of July this far north in Ireland.
Rounding the corner I take caution in my dimly lit path–these stairs are steeper than back home.
I grip the bannister which has both guided and strengthened those who have climbed here. For three hundred years.
And my journey through the dark house tonight feels just as long–at least a decade brushing through these familiar steps has become automatic over consecutive summers.
With feet touching down on the cool stone kitchen floor, I can smell the turf and coals still cooling down from evening tea in the sitting room just a few hours prior.
I whirl into the pantry, outside the window is the green unruly grass covered in dew. The rain barrel surrounded by vibrant healing dockins.
Out in front of me now I can reach the bathroom door, yet as I do I am suddenly aware of my age–mindful that there has been fifteen years passing behind me since I left the warm bed frame and set out on my dark and cool journey.
Turning around in retreat, I drown in the depressing reality of the deterioration. In a reversed journey–the tiles–now braver having endured more hardship–are shattered and leading me to a damp, damaged, and colder old fashioned kitchen stone floor. From there the door wings open returning me to the stairs which remain standing, but not without a heightened risk of broken beams or of softened wood or of rotten rug. The fire for the turf was diminished years ago, in the now vacant home, in a bleak and unlivable sitting room in a door just beyond my touch.
Following the staircase up, my trek to return has ripened into a more burdensome and daunting one on my twenty year old self’s spirit than my childhood routine could have ever known.
A childhood bed in the old house gone
rotting and retching.
Out the window, the rain touches down on the pane.
My childhood journey is irretraceable along with fifteen years of absence.
A legend and history of a home. Abandoned and let down.