The thing I remember most is the darkness. How light-less and hopeless everything seemed, there in the little house with the sagging roof, and rain pitter-pattering into our many, many buckets.

And it was cold. But thatís hardly surprising. With wind sneaking in through broken, boarded windows.

It wasnít bad in the summer -- it was almost like air conditioning.  But the Winters Ö oh, Winters were bad.

We did have heat, as long as the power was on. But it seeped out.  Even when we tried one very, cold Winter, to cover the windows, and even the walls, with emergency blankets, hoping to bring something like insulation to the party. The emergency blankets were even a bit pretty, all silvery under the few lamps we had.  Kinda Christmasy. Though the sagging roof panels, stained with black and green mildew, and spotted with rotted insulation kinda dampened the appeal.

But it wasnít completely horrible. It was Ö just the way it was. Living like that, you learn not to see the bad side of things, or youíll be crushed by it. You look for the little, tiny spots of light that make it bearable.

Like the family of birds just beyond the broken down front porch. We'd take a bit of the money we had for food and bills and buy birdseed.  So they come again, every day, and we could watch them because that was our TV and radio. That little feather family. And we'd look forward to them every day, and sit, later in the dark, talking and replaying whatever cute thing they did that made us laugh or smile. And thatís what you focus on. Thatís what gets you through.

Finding places to sleep was a problem though.

When we first went there, the only bedroom in the back was mostly unusable.  We tried putting plywood on the floor so we didnít accidentally fall through the soft spots.  And we still eventually opted for the living room for sleeping in, as it was in the best condition.  But it did take the help of several 2by4s to kept most of the ceiling from falling in on us while we slept.

Though finding a place that didnít drip Ö that was hard. It kept changing. I donít know how many times I thought weíd found a good place, then one of us would wake up in a start from a face full of cold, dirty water from a new drippy spot.  Now, that I hated. No question.

The spiders werenít fun either. Wet, rot, holes in windows and walls, and you have more than your fair share of spiders. Some so big I thought maybe we should name them. That one, heís George. And sheís Bertha. I donít know. Kinda silly I guess. But you do things, to keep from screaming sometimes.  And laughter is the best medicine.

Whatís funny? Is sometimes I miss that place. Can you imagine? It was cold. Wet. Miserable. And Ugly as Hell. But it felt safe. I donít know why. We almost froze to death there one Winter, during a prolonged power outage, when the drips finally stopped dripping, and made, instead, icicles in the house. But there is a strange melancholy when I think about it. That sad, bitter-sweet, little house. Where someone, at some time, was probably happy. And we saw it, slowly and quietly to its death. Buried now in blackberry brambles and vines.

Swallowed, once and for all. By the dark.

January 12, 2015 -- Teresa Challender

Contact: terisuewood  at yahoo dot com