• Arlene’s House Exercise

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in Uncategorized     Comments 3 comments

    This once boisterous house stands subdued at the corner of Eternity and Time in Hollywood, California.  In its glory days, the sounds from within rocked-and-rolled around all eight rooms.  Words tumbled over the kitchen and dining room tables, reverberated into the living room and the den, then, exhausted, collapsed in the bedrooms until the late-night whispers fell into silent sleep.           

    Today, silence greets the remaining owner of the house at the opening of the front door and hangs around hour after hour.  Gone is the wake-up whir of the bean grinder followed by the enticing aroma in the kitchen from the fresh-brewed coffee. Gone is the smell of the onions, garlic, Italian sausage, and red-ripe skinned tomatoes blended with basil, oregano and thyme cooking into a delicious red sauce for the evening pasta meal.

    The fawn-colored worn leather recliner has enough sweat stains and indentations left on it to reveal the manly shape and broad size of the absent occupant.  It stares at the blank screen of the soundless television.  The empty office chair pushed into the knee hole of the mahogany desk looks for the financier to return to pay the bills, manage the accounts and plan the next vacation.

    The master bedroom closet, void of men’s wear, looks pathetic in its neatness.  Where suits and trousers intermingled with shirts, and where separated pairs of shoes spread comfortably across the floor, now dresses, slacks and blouses hang in patterns of color, and the shoes are uplifted on to a rack.

    In the bathroom shower, the sound of the steady stream of hot water, announced the start of the morning ritual including the clean smell of shaving cream and the lingering fragrance of Pleasures cologne.  It doesn’t make sense anymore; neither does the king size bed without the king to sleep in it.

    The fishing rods hang useless on the garage wall; the car longs for a soothing protective rubdown with Colonite wax.  This house waits for the time when a young family moves in to turn on the music again that sings it back to life.

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    Good job here, Arlene, of evoking both occupancy and absence. One thing I wonder: was this a childless couple, or are the other bedrooms filled with forgotten toys, stuffed animals, and the like?

    I also wonder if the husband died or if he packed his bags and split. I don’t want to know the answer, though. I enjoy the ambiguity.


    Beautiful, Arlene, it evokes profound loss and all the emotions that go along with it.


    I absolutely love the imagery and sounds! Your first paragraph is amazing, I love how it moves forward in time, using sound to describe the actions. I can’t figure out an adjective for the house because it seems like it is empty, but of the man and the family… does the woman still reside there? What sticks out to me most is quiet, absent and changed. Hmmm… Great writing, though!!!

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