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The House Of Crooked Windows

SHORT STORY | ILLUMINATION | FICTION

Purpose Can Be Found In Hopeless Places

A cardinal on a tree branch.
Photo by Joel Miller on Unsplash

As I wandered aimlessly through my life, I came upon a house at a convoluted intersection. Its face was clean and elegant with red bricked walls covered with ivies and roses. Among the thorns were misshapen windows, leaning to one side as if the house were sinking. The house had no obvious flaws. It was just a house with crooked windows.

I stepped through the root-devoured door with rusted hinged that screeched as I woke them. Rodent hosts scattered rudely into shadows. I felt the curious specters, the doomed souls forced to dwell in this estate, glaring at me. Nothing barred my entrance. Instead they welcomed me with cobwebs.

I passed from the foyer into a chamber that branched into other rooms — or did before the door frames collapsed. An ornate staircase climbed to the second floor, and in the center was a colossal chandelier. Cobwebs were strung from crystal to crystal and bulbs were hazed with dust. The home kept its elegance, but it marred by time.

I, and the dead, mourned the withered beauty of this home. It fought to preserve its luster it seemed. A tall window, at the throat of the stairs, towered over the room, permitting the sunlight to flow into the room. The dusty crystals caught the light and glistened, regaling me with the memory of its lost glamour. The window was crooked too. It was an unexpected.

I ascended the wooden steps carefully. I heard the creek beneath me, the bones bending at my weight. I came to a series of rooms hidden by aged doors with knobs of different shapes and colors. I attempted to turn one, but it was stuck. I tried another to no avail. I considered breaking the doors, but I pitied the home. Why inflict unnecessary pain?

I traveled passed the rooms with the stored wisdom of the specters. I heard the ancestors called out to me. They urged me to listen to their stories and take their council. I had my own lessons to learn. This was my time, not theirs.

At the end of the hall was a wide room with grey walls and sheer curtains flowing over a slanted window. It billowed into the room. Beyond it, I noticed that the windows was broke and on the sill was a cardinal.

It looked at me through the ripples and chirped. I waited to see if it would fly away, but it never did. It bent its head in curiosity and continued to stare out the window. This room belonged to the bird. It would not surrender such a space to me without a fight.

I approached the window. It’s vibrant, crimson feathers drew me towards it. It still did not flee. I pulled the curtains aside and it only looked up at me to see if I posed any threat. Once it was satisfied, it chirped again. It saw it tried to flap its wings, but it was wounded.

I examined the area and noticed that a shard of glass, like a jagged tooth, was stained with blood. I reached out to care for the bird and it shifted away with an angry chirp. I assured it that I meant no harm, but it continued to hop away until it reached the edge of the frame and had nowhere to run.

I tore the drape into a strip of grey cloth. I shook it hard and watched the flasks of dust float away. I reached for the bird again. This time, it surrendered to me. I used one end of the cloth to blot away its blood and the rest to bandage the wing. I had no training, so I only did what I thought was best.

I sat down and leaned against the wall with the bird resting on my hand, wondering how long it would take to heal. I decided the best thing to do was leave and take him to someone who could help him. Together, we descended the stairs with a newfound purpose.


The House Of Crooked Windows was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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