Monday, May 23, 2011

The dark side of a vacant house

Photo: This photo by was taken near Houston, Texas, but the atmosphere is similar to that of Knicely's house.

Photo by

In rural Alberta, a vacant house across from our farm had belonged to our parents' neighbours, the Knicelys. I wasn't sure why they left, but thought it was because the place was spooky. The front and one side walls, clad in faded and weather-beaten shingles, were visible from the road.

The far wall, normally hidden from view, was unpainted boards of a very dark brown. For some reason, it had not faded in spite of the bleaching sun, the drifting snow and the powerful prairie winds.

I felt drawn to this dark wall, though I was afraid of it. Every once in a while, we kids would go over together for a quick heart-in-the-mouth peek. Holding our breath, my brother and I followed our older sister through the overgrown grass, took one look and ran.

We kept our distance from that dark face with its single high window, and never went there alone. Perhaps we needed to share our sense of guilt about trespassing.

The mind works in mysterious ways. Rationally, I knew that house was perfectly innocuous. Yet for reasons I still can't explain, I loved being spooked by that dark unfamiliar dark wall.

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