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Respit

In the house in the woods, the rain is king.


A covered lantern will get you so far, swinging hither and thither and flickering in the storm. A good chunky electric torch will get you further still until the persistent droplets snake their way through that waterproof casing. The halo of fuzzy white glow snuffing out in a flash, or the absence of a flash. A flash of night rushing both towards and away into the trees.

Rainfall cloaks footfalls around you while enabling the mud to make gaping wells of each of your wretched steps. Even the ferns stick together where you pass.


A house is a home as a hole in the ground. A wet, seeping thing which cradles you still, and is somehow better than the dark abyss outside. But in the house, the darkness is truer. There are no stars nor moon nor reflective eyes to break up those dark corners. The eyes in the house do not reflect.

In the house, you can stay a while, have a sit by the empty fireplace or sleep in the musty bed. All is much of a muchness, as the rain lashes against the window. There are leaks, of course. There always are in places like these.


Naturally, there was one above the bed, above the head of the bed, right slap bang in the middle of the pillow. Where else would it be in a house like this? Some poor soul had pulled the bed away from the wall, away from the drip, and had left an old, rusted bucket to catch the drips- even put some rags in the bottom to dull the sound of the water hitting. Even in a horror story, it pays to be sensible. Now we can watch that forgotten bucked dribble and overflow with each drop. The eyes in the house do not reflect.


Aching beams groan above us, as we set down to bed, you and I- you in the bed skewed away from the wall, me on the floor beside you. In these sorts of stories, it is more popular to be alone in the cabin in the woods, so of course there's only a single bed. This isn't a cabin though, this is a house- a full house- with pantry and dining room and a spare room in the attack. And a lone, single bed in the living room with the fire that cannot be, will not be, lit- and the aching beams and the creaks and snaps and crashes and crunches that do not belong here. We do not belong here. The eyes in the house do not reflect.


You said to me once that your spirit was a hard-working, loyal hound that, unless you give it something to do, will tear your house apart. And yet you lie there, with me beside you, looking up at the ceiling. The venomous drops from above aren't hitting you, aren't splashing pinpoint in that gap between your eyebrows and dripping down your face. There is water dripping down your face. And the water isn't hitting you but you lie there as if it is, stuck between stillness and thrashing like loki. And the water isn't hitting you. I look up at you, loved one. I'd reach out, if I could, but it is cold, and my sleeping bag is warm and soft. 12 tog, goose-feather down. Even in a horror story, it pays to be sensible.


The night goes on, inevitable as the rain. branches whip and thrash, and so do you my dear, before you quiet down exhausted. The venom isn't even hitting you. I wish you could remember that day you finally moved the bed. one more night, you said, and we could leave this place. You'd make the move, and I believed you. Yet, as inevitable as the rain, the night goes on. Drags on. Wrenches and gulps and gags on, and the bucket overflows again. And we lay there and watch it. All of us.


In the house, our eyes don't reflect.



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I wrote this at 3am when I was very depressed. I was crying, I couldn't sleep, and then this came out of me fully formed, all at once, and then I could sleep.

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