The door to your house/flat/apartment/abode has come unstuck in time. The next time you walk through it, you find yourself in the same place, but a different time entirely. Where are you, and what happens next?
(Technically not so much with the “time-travel” but certainly a reference to different times)
It’s just the hallway beyond the front door but at one time, it held more life than I could possibly hold in my heart. I allow the door to close behind me and soak up the gloom. If I breathe gently enough, I think I can still smell the familiar dog scent, or perhaps the twinge of bacon cooking on a Sunday morning. If I close my eyes and prick my ears, I think I can still hear the musical beeping of my daughter’s handheld computer game as she lounges on the couch in the living room. Perhaps I can even hear the crackle of that delicious bacon in the pan while my husband uses the tongs to flip the strips over.
I open my eyes and hear nothing, smell nothing. Nothing but the empty house. Five years have passed since I came here. Five years of coming to terms, of dealing with things, of…moving on. How handy to have those phrases, passed to me by well-meaning family and friends. They utter words of condolence still, with the air of the wounded, as if their sympathies could impart some solace. But they don’t. Instead I open up, let them in, then close like an anguished crevice and the words, the phrases, the affirmations disappear into the depths, offering no help whatsoever.
I’m not even sure why I’m here. I had felt compelled to return this morning after the usual breakfast of tea and toast. My mother had bought Marmite for me yesterday and it was everything I remembered it to be; tangy, salty, savory, however, by the last bite of toast I had begun to cry. I hadn’t eaten Marmite since the crime; it was something only Lindsay and I loved and therefore, a painful reminder. My husband never cared for the stuff, said it looked like tar, even Ramsay turned is nose up at it and that dog ate anything. With each bite, the mild excitement of a renewed love became harder to swallow and I knew I’d never eat it again. There have been many things I simply couldn’t do or see or eat since those early days, the hardest of which was to be here. Here, at the scene. Here, where life stopped so, where all our lives came to a terrible end, in one way or another.
I always imagined that if I returned, I wouldn’t be able to control the frantic pump of my heart, that my bowels would fall away in a dead faint. But here I am and I feel none of that. I am sad, of course. The sadness is with me every day; it sits like an unmoving pond across my chest. No counseling, no alone time, no time spent with cajoling friends or cloying family will ever vanquish that. But I am not brought to my knees by the crushing sorrow that seems to strike at any time and without warning. No. Here, I feel oddly calm. I remain in the hallway though; I know the layout of the house and I don’t see the point of rehashing too many memories. I could go upstairs and with a faithful sweep of fingers across our bedroom windowsill, recall the time that I laughed while desperately hanging on to my husband’s foot while he strived to hang Christmas lights. I could wander into Lindsay’s room, stand in the middle and see it all as it was.
But I can’t do that; all the memories are tainted. Right here in the hallway, by the front door is the safest place to be. Safer than my apartment, safer than my therapist’s office, safer even than my Mother’s house. Because here was untouched, here feels like a pleasant void, where there is no need to get to grips or overcome anything. This space was untouched by the intruder. Sure, he rounded this curve to climb the stairs toward my family while they slept, but he neither entered nor exited through this door and he did not disturb anything because there was nothing to disturb here, with the exception of my family’s shoes which were always in disarray. Yes, he hunted my family throughout the house, murdering them in separate rooms so that even in death, they couldn’t be together but somehow, remarkably, this portal remained spotless.
I am beginning to think that five years is a long time to suffer. It is a long time to struggle with the notion of not being here when I should’ve struggled alongside my family. Maybe it’s time to be at peace, to allow the silent scream a voice, perhaps then I will be able to carry my scars with the proper weight instead of feeling crushed by them. I breathe deeply and exhale and cry a little in the letting go, for these things have been attached to me like loving burdens for so long. I think now that I was meant to come here today, on the anniversary, to put it all down and give it all up to where it began. I turn slightly and open the front door, allowing daylight to flood in and fill up the unused corners, to pick out the dust rays. Stepping back across the threshold, I have the sense of lightness. It is new and slightly refreshing but I am also aware that with it, trailing at the back like a tired child, will always be a profound sense of loss.