Published: January 25, 2010
A house in mourning is a lonely one. A black flag is flown above the chimney pot: do not enter, death was here. He took away all that was dear, all that held meaning. His own hands pushed her down that flight of stairs and broke that tender neck. He still lurks in the corridors, seeping his black aura into everything. Death is cruel, death is anguish.
It had been nineteen days since the bed had been slept in. Christopher couldn't bring himself to touch it, let alone sleep in it. The covers were still thrown off and crumpled. She had been late for work; she had jumped out of bed, leaving the soft purple duvet half hanging off the side. She had pulled some clothes on, probably splashed cold water on her face in the adjoining bathroom. She would have run out of the room and down the corridor and then
Christopher stopped himself there, closed his eyes and clenched his teeth. To think of Olivia's final steps and then her deadly fall was torment. He had walked himself through it many times already, but even a tormented mind knew when to stop, or at least when to try. He opened his eyes and stared at the boiling kettle. Warming his hands against the heating side he sighed and averted his eyes from the messy sink next to him. Her half finished cup of tea sat there, and although there were no signature lipstick marks on the side he knew that her lips had touched that ceramic cat-mug. His eyes turned slowly to look at it. The milk was decaying in the tea now, and it looked creamy and unpleasant. Christopher picked the mug up and sniffed the tea inside. He wanted to imagine, maybe somehow, that it smelt of Olivia, but it didn't. It just smelt old and nasty.
The kettle began to rumble as it boiled. Christopher sniffed the tea again. It reached a steaming crescendo and clicked off, leaving the kitchen quiet. Christopher set the mug back down amidst the pile of other dirty dishes that had been left for almost three weeks now. He went through the motions of making his own cup of tea, distinctly aware of the horrible silence about himself. It had been creeping about the house since Olivia had died. It had sat in every corner, preying on him in the dark. Christopher set the kettle to boil again.
Against the backdrop of it the doorbell rang. Christopher looked up, unsure of whether he wanted company. He picked the teabag out of his mug and left it on the countertop, uncaring of the stain it would leave. Since Olivia's galling funeral Christopher had only experienced one visitor his mother. He knew that, in her mind, she had been executing her job as mother; she was comforting him by offering to remove Olivia's belongings from the house. But it had stung Christopher. He had felt the need to cling to Olivia's rocking chair, her hairbrush, her newly bought bottle of shampoo and never let go. The two had not parted on good terms.
Christopher's reminiscing stupor was shocked away as the doorbell rang once again. He lifted the mug of tea to his lips and took a sip, before realising that he had not yet stirred in the milk. Frowning, he looked up and out through the kitchen window. It seemed a horrendous day outside and, just as the doorbell tolled for the third time.
He decided that to leave his visitor outside in that beating rain would be cruel. So, he left the kitchen and departed down the corridor, hugging the wall slightly as he passed the foot of the stairs, where Olivia had lain for four hours before discovery. He felt a shiver flow from the base of his spine as he passed. Once at the front door he pressed his eye against the peephole to view his guest. Through the warped bubble he was able to see a cagouled man standing on the porch. This man turned towards the door and Christopher recognised him, vaguely, as Jack. He hesitated only a second before opening the door for him.