[Note: I wrote this for a contest and then forgot to enter it. Duh. Hope you like it anyway.]
As my grandparents grew older, they withdrew, like the chambered nautilus in reverse, into an ever-diminishing part of their farmhouse. This room showed it — neglect oozed from every corner. Cobwebs whirled and spun in drafts and gaps of plaster peered through yellowed wallpaper. A worn and weathered rocking chair rested on shrunken boards and waited for someone who would never return. Three floor-to-ceiling windows, their panes dusty, opened on a vista of pale green distances, places that would only be mysterious and inviting at a remove, but pedestrian when investigated at close range.
Did the room mourn with the house for those who had lived there and then gone away? For the woman who had first come to this room as a new bride, when the distances were not yet cities? Had she been pleased by the home her groom had brought her to? Intimidated by making a home for her new family? Thought of children who would come and how the room might one day be a nursery? The house settled, the creaking boards bemoaning passing time and the aching of its old bones – only it knew the answers, and it did not share them.
There are memories in the smell of old house — of meals and people, of lives lived. Here, they were faint against the odors of abandonment: old wood, old paper, air trapped in forgotten places and then released. A step to a window and a single movement would have raised a sash and brought fresh air, but it seemed an unnecessary cruelty, as if promising the room a new life it would never really have.
It was kinder to leave and close the door on the past.