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Grief Can Do Strange Things

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There were once two houses. Each house had a pair. Time moved swiftly forward and the pairs aged with this time. First, one pair lost their other half. Then, they were gone too. And the house sat empty.

The other pair promised it wouldn’t happen to them.

So one day, one half picked up a gun, with a last promise and a kiss, they blew their lover’s candles out. Then, only momentarily in the horrible state of being alone, it was their time. Now both houses sat empty. The brother and sister arrived at the house with no blood on its walls, but they fought – first verbally, then physically, then legally.

One day the fog cleared as if pushed aside by a stiff breeze. The brother and sister realised how silly they were being, in the house that once belonged to such a loving pair. They called a silent truce and packed up – leaving the house alone once more. All the while, the house of apparent tragedy had sat empty. It only hosted weeds in the garden, and kudzu had worked its way around the outside, invading through the windows.

The house, just as homes and people sometimes become, was broken. So there was surprise when three figures took a chance and moved in. One could be seen wearing gardening gloves, removing wheelbarrows of weeds and kudzu. Another could be seen steadily cleaning the home, even removing the flaky blood from the musky walls. And the third, much smaller than the other two, could be seen making their own secret homes in the overgrown garden, serving tea to a host of cuddly toys.

They were still working when five figures moved into the other house. These people saw how hard they were working. They brought over steaming casserole dishes and occasional clunking glass bottles. More importantly, they brought over friendship. For the first time in a long time, both houses were filled with light and laughter.

The two smallest had the biggest things in common – each owned stuffed toy was promptly named, loved, and shared at will; every fake cup of tea drunk with gusto and a contented sigh. Then, one day, hand in hand, the two smallest left their homes for an adventure. Their bodies weren’t found for six months. Stuck together with black tape – bound by plastic.

Someone had interpreted the little ones’ fun. Who it was, no one but them will know. The larger group left their home first. Full of grief and unable to look at those they had been so close to – each blamed the other for the tragedy, even though they sometimes just happen. Grief can do strange things.

Not long after that, the pair in the other home split in half. Neither wanted to live there, with the memories and the faint smell of blood. So the home became a house again. They stayed empty that way until nature turned against them, a thousand times stronger than only weeds or twisting kudzu.

The tides stopped peacefully coming in and out. A violent wind from somewhere offshore caused them to crash onto the beach, then the boardwalk, then started flooding into the neighbourhoods. Undeterred as they had been in the face of tragedy, the houses had little hope against the storm beating them down. Quickly, each became free from their foundations with a creak and a shudder. For a while they even floated impressively, creating a bizarre optical illusion in the rising water. Then, when these two houses with so much in common came within an arm's reach, they both shuddered at the same time, pushed by the same wave. And then, they went under, as if they’d never been there at all.

As if all the painful and joyous events had never happened. But they had. And no one needed the corpses of empty houses to remind them. So they became as two ships, passing in the night.

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