You are sitting on the floor. This house is known to you.
You can feel the cool floorboards beneath you. The living room is empty. The light fixture socket in the ceiling has no light fixture.
You breathe in the emptiness of this house. You can hear it, this vastness screaming at your senses as the darkness surrounds you. There is nothing in this house. No furniture. No life.
Cars pass by on the road outside. Light splashes on the walls and then it's gone. You helped her paint that wall. It sparkles, the memory. Now the wall is dull, nearly colourless.
You hear the thermostat kick on.
You know you won't hear the fridge or the freezer. They're both turned off.
The pungent smell of cleaning fluids is clear, but the scent of this home still lingers in the air faintly; a dying aroma.
You sit still. You try to breathe very quietly. This space echoes. The slightest ripple of a sound gets magnified, and magnified, and magnified.
Is your heartbeat audible? Climbing up those stupidly steep steps from the basement always made you huff a little. Now the basement is empty too. No freshly washed towels.
No sheets to fold together, with the radio on.
You can feel the weight of your own body pulling you down. Even though movement seems impossible, you manage to turn your head slowly.
You can see the bedroom window from here. The old spruce tree outside. It sways in the wind. No-one will be here to listen to it creak.
You left the suncatcher outside. It hangs on a hook by the porch. You can faintly hear the soft clinking it makes. You'll say you forgot it. Forgot to take it down.
That way you won't have to remember making it for her. Giving it to her. Hanging it with her. The way sunlight danced on it that day. You should draw the curtains before you leave.
Sunlight has no business here.
You remember the sunlight beating down as you were mowing the lawn out back. She was too weak by then.
She made you lemonade and you sat and chatted about all the plants she wanted to put in the garden that spring.
Lillies. Some beans. Tomatoes in the greenhouse. You wanted to scream but you didn't. More tulips for the designated tulip flowerbed. When she coughed you held her up.
The thermostat turns off. Now it's just your breathing. Light, slow.
She was so light when you lifted her. And still she wouldn't talk about it. And still you wouldn't talk about it. You did what needed doing. You all did what needed doing.
But you didn't talk about it.
You run your fingertips on the floor. You have washed and vacuumed this floor time and time again.
First, it was hard on her. Having to get you to do it. Her baby sister.
Her little baby sister. Oh how those words infuriated you when you were kids. You almost smile. But this fury is so alien.
Fury at nothing. Fury at something. Fury at everything. No, no, you can't have her. Not my sister. I need my sister. And still you didn't talk about it. Seeing it would've hurt her.
Turning it in was protecting her.
You feel a cool draft. The wind must be strong. You made sure all the windows are closed tight. None of this feels right.
This house stands, empty. Empty like your mother's eyes that day. That final day. She'll be waiting for you by now. She raised you strong, the both of you, they say. Strong, or just silent?
How she carried herself through. How you carried her, in her urn, so softly and steadily. Now you can't even carry yourself.
Something on the roof rattles. Can't be the antenna, you had that checked. Wind. Branch. Bird. Two doves live in the old spruce tree.
You want to scream.
She is not here.