Every inch of the cozy 1200 square foot home had been painstakingly preserved to reflect, as much as possible, the original splendor of its 1988 purchase. Aside from the carpets that had been left threadbare and stained by decades of pets and so could not possibly be kept, all flooring, wallpaper, and furnishings were present, displays from a bygone era. Two small bedrooms- one in a cream and navy stripe, the other in decadent white lace and pink florals, though dated, looked crisp and ready to receive visitors. The small kitchen- ringed with pine cabinets filled with obsolete gadgets and endless instruction manuals- ran into the small living/dining area which was made smaller still by the amount of large Victorian furniture crammed into it. An oak dining table with seating for six sat fully bedecked yet empty of partakers. The reflection from the mirrored hutch behind the table amplified the cluttered void. On its ornate, wood-carved shelves sat portraits of a little girl crying on Santa’s lap, blowing out four birthday candles with cake smattered cheeks. A couple, who could not have been more different in aesthetic, sat smiling in front of a pool, holding a lotion-covered baby clad in pink polka dotted swimsuit and oversized glasses. The same unscreened L-shaped pool could be seen through the back glass sliding doors, gathering leaves and detritus, inviting the elements to do what they may.
A weathered once white door led back in to the master bedroom. The floor was a sea of rumpled clothing. No carpet- the same cocker spaniel tan it had always been, though replaced- could be seen. An antique dresser with brass handles heaved beneath a stack of filth- old food encrusted plates, various wrappers, and a dozen or so plastic bottles containing varying amounts of water or soda. The burgundy walls were covered with scribblings of black sharpie, woven so heavily throughout that it almost seemed a part of the wallpaper design. Mountains of papers threatened to swallow the narrow secretary desk that flanked the lone window.
While the rest of the house feigned an air of collectedness, this was the reality. Outside this door was the past, carefully smoothed out and displayed- a museum. This room was the present. The unheard screams, the hopeless weeping, the horrors known only to its lone inhabitant, were relegated to this one room, carefully tucked away from any other eyes or ears that may have otherwise sought to intercede.