The Big Blue House
(This story won third place at the local arts festival, I hope you enjoy it!)
I didn't fail to notice the bright yellow line wrapped around my favorite house during that summer, I just didn't know what it meant. At eleven years old, I was too young to be concerned with things like that. I noticed it, it puzzled me, I moved on.
I had first noticed the house because of its color. It was the shade of a spring day sky, baby blue with neat white shutters. It looked fresh between all the other ordinary white homes surrounding it. I always smiled to myself when I passed the Blue House. I would imagine what type of people lived there and what they did. I thought they must be very cheerful and happy to have painted their house such a wonderful color.
The yellow tape stayed up around the Blue House for most of that summer. I wondered if the people who lived there were doing construction on the inside. The yellow tape said "Caution", I thought it meant to watch out for falling boards and nails and stuff. I wondered if the house was empty. The yard was unkempt, and the grass began to grow to an uncomfortable height. The blue had begun to lose its warmth, its cheerfulness. It was if that one yellow stripe across all that blue was sucking the life out of the house.
I wondered about the Blue House and its occupants all that summer. Every time I rode my bike past I would look to see if anything had changed. Nothing ever did. It was a mystery. Fall eventually came, the yellow line disappeared, and my thoughts were on school again. I pushed the mystery of the Blue House out of my mind.
A couple of years later, I became friends with a firefighter. He had the most interesting stories, and my friends and I would always beg him to tell us about the cool things he had seen while performing his duties as a fireman. It was during one of these stories that the mystery of the Blue House was revealed.
My fireman friend asked all of us if we knew the blue house on Factory Street, by the high school. Of course we all knew it, especially me. Thinking of it always brought back the wonderment of that summer. The freedom I felt riding my bike and the new worlds I explored through the books I read. I had discovered the public library that summer, and it was on my journeys to and from the library when I would pass the Blue House. My friend was going to tell us a story about my favorite house and I was very interested.
It seems I was right about the occupants of my Blue House. They were an older couple and had lived happily in the house for many years. They spent much of their time to themselves, and their neighbors only saw them once-in-a-while. When the house became quieter than usual that summer, the neighbors thought the couple had gone on vacation. It was only when the smells began to drift out of the house that they became concerned. They could only ignore them for so long.
When it became too much for them to bear, the neighbors called the police. They were worried, something was terribly wrong. The police arrived and were surprised when the husband answered the door. Everyone thought the old couple was gone. The old man seemed confused by the police. He told them everything was fine, there wasn't any need for alarm. He knew the yard needed work, but his wife was sick and he had been spending all his time taking care of her. The police were very polite but insistent. The old man would have to show them around the house. They wanted to make sure there wasn't any kind of health hazard. As the officers were led through the house, the cause of the smell became evident. The fire department was called in to help. The police didn't know what to do. They had never had a situation like this before.
When the firemen arrived, the smell was so strong, they had to put on their gas masks. It was the middle of July and the smell hung thickly on the air. It was worse inside because the heat had been left on. The firemen made their way up the stairs with their masks and their big rubber coats and boots. They trudged down a hallway to the old couple's bedroom. There they found the old woman laying in the couple's bed. She was covered by an electric blanket turned all the way up. A lone chair stood at the side of the bed and was surrounded by stacks of papers, books, magazines, and beer cans. The husband had sat there
drinking and reading to his wife for days on end. He explained to the fireman that his wife had become so cold he had turned on the heat and covered her with the blanket. He said he endured the heat because he loved her and knew she was sick. He wouldn't leave her side for anything and had to be forcibly escorted out of the house by two of the police.
You see, the man's wife was dead. She had been dead for several weeks. The husband couldn't accept the fact she was gone. He tried to keep her warm, and read to her from that chair all day long, every day. The worst part of the whole story was what they saw on the bed. There was a definite indent on the husband's side. He had continued to sleep with his wife every night.
At the end of this tale everyone in our group let out a disgusted groan, everyone but me. I had learned the story about the Blue House and I could never think of it in the same way again. It wasn't gross or disgusting. Instead, the story touched my heart. I could not imagine the loss that man must have felt. What did he think when all those men came into his blue world interrupting the fantasy he had created for himself? I thought what a strong love he must have held for his wife. I hoped one day I might have someone who would love me with that much intensity.
I never found out what happened to that man. I hope he had friends and family to help him cope with his grief. Sometimes, when my family would drive by the Blue House, I would catch a glimpse of an elderly gentleman working in the yard. I truly hope it was him. I want to believe he came back to his house. That somehow, the happiness of the house was able to work its magic on him again, to bring back that person who had picked out that wonderful shade of blue.