Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Lost Crawlspace

I thought I'd post something a little different today.  I have a ton of stories I'd been working on for a while, so I figure I'd wrap one of them up here and post today, on the last day of the year, a day where so many dreams and promises from a year ago fall and die, but also where new dreams begin again.  While the whole resolution game I don't necessarily by into, there is a spiritual side to resolutions that can be fun to play with. I hope I played with this one in a manner that people find enjoyable.  Anyhow, it is a bit on the longer side, but I do hope you are able to take something out of it.  And, of course, Happy New Years to those who haven't past the midnight hour yet, and a Happy Belated New Year's to those where 2011 is already a thing of the past.

As I sanded off the dust that dwelled peacefully atop this seldom used and left behind chest of hope, I coughed, a penance for awakening the ghosts of past. Digging through the chest, I found a spider-glass I had but seen one time before, at a pawnshop on some trip, to where the location escaped me then and there.  I examined that glass and recalled that I had, up until that exact moment, that it had ever been made, that it ever existed.  I am sure it recalled the same thoughts of me, as I held its future in my hand.  Amongst the cobbled patterns of brick and clay, so many memories were simply left behind, left for me to dust off this-five days prior to-New Year’s Eve.

Since the days of child-time, I have always believed in ghosts—those beings, once so alive and proud, now stranded in the places it once did know.  Like many, I believed the attics to be their throne rooms—the place they roam, back and forth, only hoping the living shall grace their sight, and for their forms and voices to once again, be seen and heard alive.  In the attic of this place, a place I so fondly call home, each box left behind became an adventure in itself, never knowing exactly what will be collected as each flap of cardboard springs to life as I dig right through.

The rational being I am, one who tries to lead a life of logic, sound to every end, realized that the appraisers & realtors both, must have searched these boxes before, and the handprints left in the dust upon, provided the proof to such thoughts I had.   Yet, the hearth that rose from the parlor below, also lived here this high, and it looked as if, perhaps, it’d never been touched by hand or eye—brick and dirty mortar collided, yet not a fingerprint could I spy.

I placed my hand, flesh to brick, and felt the comfort of original construction cold and thick.  I expected to find simple sensations, the kinds one would immediately think upon—the coarseness of the jagged mortared edge, a sense of coolness and of course, the touch of solidified particulates of dust combined.  Yet, my mind flashed back, along and over through, the 150 plus year history of my home, and the collision of ideals, personality, styles and trends, clashed with the truncated backstory the seller had told me, back before, way back when.

And there, but inches, from the heart of this home, behind the structured brick, I noticed a few loosened, perhaps through time, perhaps from age.  Cautiously I examined each, deliberating as whether to remove a block to see, if anything of importance was stashed between/behind.  After several slow pushes, back and forth, my hand removed three of the homes originality—bricks of purpose, bricks of wisdom, and realized that, all of this history is now mine, and whatever comes after this, is but another chapter in the storied past of what I was about to find

Behind the brick and mortared space, a latch did exist, apparently rusted from its ultra-extended dose of sleep.  I pulled upon it, tightly as I could, eventually an opening, in the wall appeared, enough to reveal, a darkness that only it would ever understand.  Realizing the space continued on, I removed more bricks until I could step full within, the lost crawlspace, the one I knew not of, as it was not described by the sellers or listed in the blueprints I received from the town back then, back before all this was mine. 

I crawled the dark space for a length of time I could not tell, for between the cobwebs and adrenaline I cared not how long this passage swelled. But of course, I would find the end, which turned out to be more brick, more brick and more brick again.  I couldn’t wrap my head upon the reason for this hidden corridor.  What purposes did it hold?  What secrets did it once conceal?

So therein, in the darkness, of this dirty, dirty, darkened space, I sat on the floorboards, back to brick, legs & arms crossed in awe.  It was at this point I heard the clicking of gears and the whistling of a wind.  Stunned by the noise, so close, so near, as if I was amidst a clockwork changing hands.  I sat in the darkened dark, stunned, shocked, scared, excited too.  I contemplated all the reasons that could be true?  Was the sound built out of fear, was it a defensive trap built to seal, secrets inside, or perhaps to keep what’s interred from escaping outside.

The noise then stopped, and a crack of light lit my space rather well.  I could now see, where it began, that it grew, beginning from beyond, the wall I just had leant upon.  I walked ever close and birds I now heard, chirping soft, as if the imagination was playing games, yet clear as the sound of birds can be.  Instantly I figured that some of these so-called feathered friends, had discovered some holes, to which a nesting place was built.  How and why could this still be? These and more questions ever-puzzled me.

Pushing brick as well I could, I struggled; I shrugged, as the sweat drifted down from brow, altering the consistency of the cotton that clothed me some.  Then I pushed, just enough, to open the pathway free.  The rest moved easily.  Next, I placed left foot forward, yet felt nothing, nothing at all, except the inexplicable emptiness of an open space.  I twizzled my foot, back and forth, but reach anything, anything at all, I couldn’t reach, not then or there.  I grabbed the remaining brick, the one’s that I didn’t think I’d need to move, and worked them free until all of me could move within. I entered and dropped, into a type of half-lit, yet darkened cell, one with a ceiling, clearly in view.  I lifted myself up back to the space itself, turned around and fully saw, a sight that would cause the deepest drop of jaw.  A world, of colors, a world of light, a world of vegetation impossible to dream, was but seconds alive in front of me.  Had I hit my head?  Was I losing myself in such an annotated catch of sleep?

I did not believe what I saw, a world, zoo, some place steeped in every kind of impossibility. The contrast of this euphoric Shangri-La and its expanse of sound and color to that of my home, was beyond anything I could perceive, stranger than the oddest oddity of dream-like thought I’d ever forged.  This house, my house, was built with, was composed of, concrete, mortar, brick and clay. 

The neighborhood to where I stood was forever loud, filled with traffic booms, overzealous children and the occasional lover’s quarrel late at night.  These familiar sights and sounds reoccurred, or so it seemed, all of the days and nights I could remember, to the point that they just became, part of the framework of where I spent the greatest amount of my time.  This home was nowhere near the rural outskirts of the town.  The buildings don’t even turn into trees for about a good hour’s drive down from here.  That rural existence, while although having spent many hours in my youth, and having acquired much familiarity with, could not have possibly allotted my mind, even my subconscious, to compile enough data, to which a recreation so detailed such as this could be seen through. No, not even in slumber, as there are always inconsistencies between dream and reality.  And even if any of the above could be true, then how does, this place, this vision I here see now, feel nothing like the countryside I knew as a child.  So, tell me how?

I dared not take another step.  There was a path, but I feared it would crumble after my weight-applied pressure to its ancient looking steps.  One misstep, one crumbled stone, could send me to an undesired, downward spiral, to only God knows where. I couldn’t care to think of what species of beast or man-like entities collaborated below, how the atmosphere in that thick vegetation would affect my weakened mortal lungs.  No, I dared not take another step. 

So I sat, for hours and hours more, feet dangling into the garden scene there right seen.  And wondered long, oh so long it felt I did, if a place like this ever did or even could exist, if it would be here tomorrow and/or the next.   But for all the time I spent in that pose, I couldn’t dream of stepping off this ledge. Sure, there were those brief peaks of courage and those minute cries to adventure, heard from the distance that echoed kindly within.  But I could not go a single distance more; it was not logical to think anything good could come of such a quest, a quest to where no one knew where I had gone and disappeared off to.  No, I couldn’t, yes parts of me certainly wanted to, but I knew I shouldn’t, so I didn’t. 

For all the time I spent there on that unbelievable ledge of mine, I thought things like I just described, many more thoughts I couldn’t nor would not exchange.  But, for the most part, I just enjoyed all the sights and scenery, all the sounds new to ear, all the every possibility possible in here, a place I felt would disappear if I dared rest my head or close my eyes.  But the answer came, just then, and there I knew, just gazing, out the hole concealed by wall, that was found at the very end, of a lost crawlspace evading view, so long, behind its brickwork veil, hidden in this attic, of a fixer-up, I had purchased, just months before New Year’s Eve would be through.  It was then, that I knew.


  1. dang fred - awesome story telling...enjoyed the trip you took us on..and esp. the second to last stanza really spoke to me in multiple ways...felt this.. happy new year to you!!

  2. A perch indeed. A wonderful story of epiphany--so interesting that crawl space is also an opening. K.

  3. (I meant interesting in that crawl spaces are usually proverbial dead ends--the gasp before the last! )

  4. Thanks Claudia, glad you enjoyed the piece and that it spoke to you as well. Happy New Year.


    Glad you caught that, I was going with that, hoping that reference was understood, and then, at least what I was going for, that opening that appears would carry more significance. Really glad you enjoyed it, yes epiphany is part of what I was shooting for here. Again, really glad you liked it. Happy New Year.

  5. smiles...i agree on that last paragraph...i think there is much wisdom there and i resonate with it as goal for the year is to capture as many moments as i can...happy new year man

  6. I must agree with Claudia, that second last paragraph was wonderful. I think we all felt like that a time or another. Just get that inclining to go where the grass is supposedly greener and such, but the little voice tells us it's all in our head so we stop. The opening was a nice touch too, found it took me to many places opening thoughts of the past and of views on certain things and dreams and such. Really gripping piece. Happy New Year!

  7. Very cool, Fred! Happy New Year!

  8. Glad I took the time to read this. A magical tale. Right alongside of the teller, wondering if all this is too good to be true, to step off or not.