From the first moment she crossed the threshold, Claire had fallen in love with the hallway. Trapped between two rooms, and with the staircase at the far end, it made her feel the whole house had engulfed her and would shield her from the outside world. The hallway was Claire’s security blanket and she wrapped it tightly around herself every time she came home.
For Robert the hallway was nothing more than an entrance to the rest of the house. A functional component designed merely to allow movement between living room, kitchen, and the upper floor. It was a part of the house he walked through blindly, his mind focused on where he was going rather than where he was.
The future children of Claire and Robert viewed the hallway as a dark nightmarish place. A dimly lit, enclosed space, which fuelled the darkest of childhood nightmares. Every nook and cranny filled with monsters and ghosts.
In their earliest days together, as a newly married couple, the living room had been the bustling centre of the house. Friends and family invited round on an almost weekly basis so they could witness the joy Claire and Robert felt at being together.
When the children entered the home the living room became full of energy. It’s skirting boards and walls bore the scares of an active life, and the furniture was chosen for its ability to withstand injury rather than its aesthetic qualities.
Eventually the children outgrew the house and left to make homes of their own. With their leaving the living room was bandaged and repaired to hide traces of its battered and bruised past.
When their family moved on Claire and Richard never felt quite comfortable in the living room again. It became a stale place. A space frozen in time. With only two people to fill the entire lounge, nothing within it had the opportunity to become worn or enjoyed.
Spacious and always filled with the aroma of cooking. Robert thrilled at the opportunity to prepare food. Romantic meals for two, lavish dinner parties, family lunches, even a simple jam on toast served in bed.
Robert always ensured the kitchen contained all the necessary tools to complete whatever culinary performance was required. For him the preparation and cooking of food were pleasures to be savoured, somehow eating the meal seemed almost sacrilegious.
Claire had different feelings for the kitchen. It had been the site of their first married row and till the day she passed away the room held in its walls the memory of that argument. A silly shouting match over where to store eggs (“In a fridge.” said Claire, “In a cupboard.” said Robert). It was an argument that forever more marked the kitchen as Robert’s territory rather than hers.
A schizophrenic room. At times a pristine location, its white and blue theme glittering and reflective, other times a place of odours and grime. Its dysfunctional nature was a mirror. Families spend their days tilting between extremes of perfection and contempt. Like the gradual dirtying of the bathroom the movement towards contempt was only ever spotted when it the extreme had been reached. It then took a conscious effort by all to move the pendulum back towards perfection, just as it took a physical effort to restore the bathroom to its sparkling, fresh, natural state.
Over the years the bedroom saw many changes of style. From modern, to bizarre, back to modern, finally settling on traditional. Through it all the room remained the place that bonded Claire and Robert together. It was the place where they were closest, the one room they knew they would be together at least twice a day. It was the room that gave life to their children and the room that eventually took life away from the elderly couple.
First Robert on a dry spring morning; a lie-in that he never woke from. Then a few years later Claire too passed away. Lying in bed, with her memories providing warmth and comfort, she drifted into the walls and allowed the house to open itself to a new beginning and a new owner.
Posted: 24 November, 2013