I told them it was pointless to renovate. Renovations never take in this house I said. Many have tried and all have failed. The house likes its shadows and its dark corners and its decay.
I told them they were mad to buy the place. ‘A renovator’s delight’ the real estate agent said but I knew this house because I lived in this part of town my whole life. Even as children we talked about this place. We’d play in it. Because, you know, it wasn’t scary or anything. I don’t think it was haunted either. It just liked being the way it was.
When you are a child you don’t question things like that. And it seems when you are an adult bent on becoming a landlord you don’t question much either. But it didn’t matter what we did or didn’t query as children. Whereas adults playing here, expecting to make it better, expecting a good investment return, were doomed to failure. They should have asked more. They should have asked why. And then they should have run away fast, but not from ghosts, just from a bad investment.
But they didn’t ask and they didn’t listen and they poured money into renovations and at first it seemed to work. They painted and they cleaned and they re-modelled. They turned the old staircase into a modern one and hung new art on the walls. They changed the furniture and chose a minimalist design. And it took for about three days, and then…and then….
And then it changed back. Quietly, without fanfare, but resolutely. It changed back. Paint gone, staircase reformed, dust and dishevelment returned.
I remember their faces, and I couldn’t resist saying I told them so. They weren’t listening. Shock does that to you, or so I’ve heard. It certainly seemed so then.
“Why are you surprised?” I asked them. “Would you want to change on the whim of a new owner?”
“It’s a house,” they said, looking to me like I could be blamed somehow for their incredulity now. If I was mad, then perhaps when they turned and looked at the house again it wouldn’t have changed back.
“It’s a house that likes being what it is,” I replied, when they turned back and saw it still clung to its former, dubious glory.
“It’s a house that never changes.”
(c) Helen M Valentina 2017