September 30, 2019

WELCOME HOME, DEAR ONES by Donna J.W. Munro

The others already gather,
outside the pool of light,
watching...
Wasn't so long ago I was young and full of life. I remember the comings and goings of fine ladies in swishing skirts, gentlemen dressed for dinner at the long tables lit by bright candles, servants quietly dishing out the fine dinners from silver platters. How warm the kitchen was then, full of movement and light. Bubbling concoctions filling the back all with the smells of perfectly balanced dishes. Things the lady of the house served with pride.

Wasn't so long ago.

Thick curtains hung in sumptuous cascades from the tall, clean windows then. Art gathered from years of travel and discernment lined the walls, a small museum. High backed furniture arranged in groupings to promote discussion. Interaction. Flirtation. My favorite is the sparking chair. Two seats and a twisted back to keep young lovers from touching. Such an innocent naivete built that lovely piece. The curtains and the dark corners know that young lovers won't be kept from touches and kisses and pressed bodies. The room remembers the passionate embraces of the couples that found warmth in each other under the eaves of this roof.

No more though.

The table is set in the dining room, though the fare is thin and dusty, the room warms from use.

I try to make you as comfortable as I can, though it's been so long since the cooks warmed the stoves and the maids dusted away the thick coat of time on the woodwork. The ladies of the house are not pleased with their efforts.

Welcome, welcome. The door is open but just for you. Your sweetness is noted. How you draw your love close in the chill of the entry. If only there were split wood to light in the fireplace, you'd see how warm this place can be. How merry it is when the lamps are lit and the stairs shine with carefully oiled perfection. How the carpets are swirls of exotic beauty when the leaves are brushed away.

I'd make it perfect for you if only there was more life, like there used to be.

You make your way deeper, leading the way with your lady following close behind. Everyone is following close behind, drawn to you like a moth to a flame, the flicker of your life lighting our path.

You find the dining room, lit with the few candles we have left, long table set only on one end for you. The light that drew you in, a candelabra casting a pool of warmth in one of the grandest rooms. Two tall chairs, upholstered in velvet and gilded cherubs still shining, sit pulled at an angle, inviting you. A bottle of our finest wine and two goblets sit next to plates filled with what we remember, fine offerings once so frequent now flittering shadows remembered only sometimes.

You sit in the light, staring at the food. Muttering things we don't understand yet. You move so much faster than we do, but soon we hope, you'll tell us things. I'm sure you will be the toast of the house. Embraced and loved by all. Yes, I know you will, for the others already gather, outside the pool of light. Sitting in the chairs, watching you sip the wine they offered up. Enjoying the warmth of your fluttering words. Missing how it felt to be like you. How they want to feel it again.

At last, the moment of truth.

You came here together, some kind of test of strength or of your bravery. You laughed as the others pressed in, knocking things to the floor in their need to get close. That pool of light on the table a thin shield, a false blind set by the many who live in these walls. My walls.

They rush in when the light finally sputters, clutching you with all their strength. They know you will love it here. You'll be treasured by them. A new family. And your love for each other? It never has to die.

That is my promise to you.

My promise as the breath freezes in your lungs, crushed out by the many who inhabit my walls, my rooms, my floors. My family. We are a wonder of memories. You will never become bored. You will add your own knowing to ours and we will grow together.

As your spirits rise in the silky dark and your eyes open to the beauty of all that sustains itself in my walls, the lovely existence that waits for you, the others gather you up and lead you about, dressing you in their ideas, feeding you their memories of life, you glance around and smile.

I part my planks, allowing the husks of you, your detris cocoons of unshackled skin, to fall into the underneath of me. You'll never need them again.

Welcome Home, dear ones.  
Donna J. W. Munro has an MA in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill Writing University. Her pieces are in Dark Moon Digest # 34, Syntax and Salt, Sirens Ezine, the Haunted Traveler, Flash Fiction Magazine, Astounding Outpost, Door=Jar, Spectators and Spooks Magazine, Nothing’s Sacred Magazine IV and V, Corvid Queen, Hazard Yet Forward (2012), Enter the Apocalypse (2017), Killing It Softly 2 (2017), Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths II (2018), Terror Politico (2019), and several Thirteen O’Clock Press anthologies. Contact her at https://www.donnajwmunro.com or @DonnaJWMunro on Twitter.   

Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

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