Wednesday, May 26, 2010

she thought the white would like especially nice with the red leaves in the fall

Pillar - 498 words
Kevin Foster

Despite the kids' protests, they bought the house with the help of a substantial loan from the bank and a down payment sneaked out of the fifteen-year-old boy's college fund. The kids did not like the house for several reasons. The youngest, six, believed wholeheartedly that the house was haunted; why, she never said, though the wife secretly believed that the house – the mansion, the massive plantation – had a dirty pallor that made her uncomfortable. The wife had already decided that the first order of business would be to strip what was left of the tortured paint from the three-story facade and restore the house's purity. The nine-year-old girl flatly refused to see the pictures her parents had brought back after their first and only visit. The eldest boy, who did not know about the down payment, had only one experience with a person from the South, a pretty Georgian girl whom he had met at summer camp a year earlier, held hands with one night and realized the next day that her accent grated his ears. Unimpressed with what the state had offered him so far, he also did not want to move to Georgia. All three detested being marshaled into the South, or more truthfully, away from the friends they had known for their short, but entire lives in Minnesota. They did not understand a move for a job, a move for new opportunities, for the money that would send them all to school. As the rest of the family clambered out of their minivan, the father noticed the lone pillar that stood on the right side of the front porch and disappeared two stories up into the third. He had noticed the imbalance before but forgot. As he chased after the wife, who was shepherding the children into the home, he forgot again.

Within six months, the restoration was well under way. Over the summer, they had modernized the house, adding amenities they could now afford; a new air-conditioning unit, modern refrigerator and dish-washer in the kitchen, and the entire house was rewired so that their television could be moved from the bedroom to the living room. In August, the children had gone back to school, affording the wife time to take to the house's face with a scraper, so she toiled away as the atmosphere slowly cooled and the surrounding forest's leaves turned red and fell. She saved the pillar for last, as it would prove the most difficult to fix. Even if she could have seen it, she would not have noticed the pillar's rotting fringes, eroded by moisture, colonies of termites, time. When the pillar bitterly sighed and surrendered to the weight of its load, the rest of the house followed it, carrying the husband and the youngest daughter into its carcass. The other three were in town at a hardware store, waiting impatiently for the clerk checking the back for more gallons of white paint. They would need many.

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