Saturday, September 29, 2007
"I had the strangest dream. It was like, real, but all messed up. I'm scared.......I hope you aren't who you were in my dream...are you?"
There was no return text.
Jenny, suddenly awake and confused, grasped the phone tightly. She shook uncontrollably as she pressed the keys of her phone, her body covered in sweat from the dream that had torn her from sleep. She, the only one home in the three story house on North Taylor Road. It was 2:00 AM.
Staying home alone on a Friday night wasn't Jenny's style at all. In Kansas City she would have certainly been in a room full of friends, heaping mounds of clothes scattered throughout her room, laughing, eating, stories, calling boys, hanging up. It was all so different now, after moving to St. Louis. Being alone and in an unfamiliar old house forced Jenny's mind to explore thoughts and images welcomed only at sleepovers, only in a room full of teenagers, never to be dreamt about when alone, not while her parent were out. Not in the strange old home in Kirkwood.
Jenny's bedroom was a second floor suite in the three story on Taylor Rd. A new start in a new town, an old home purchased from the original owner (nobody seemed to know). The Harris' moved due to the fathers job change. He's now knee deep in the process of the rehab. It was Jenny's parents dream to own a home like this, the charm of three story Victorian, the wrap around porch, the huge trees lining the roads in a town with main street values. Kirkwood, nestled on the outskirts of St. Louis, an upscale bedroom community with history and turn of the century architecture, was perfect for the Harris'.
Jenny sat alone gripping the phone, texting again, the only person she knew in town. Her parents away, taking care of Jenny's Grandmother who had fallen. The whole family was there, just after closing. It was a freak accident. A board leading down from the second floor to the back porch snapped and caught her foot beneath the steps. She fell, fracturing her hip, a bad start for the family in their new home. It was hours before they found her because everyone was in the front of the home, nobody could hear her pleads for help. She was shaken, bruised and upset. A short hospital stay in St. Louis was required before Jenny's parents set out to take her home. They were busy moving her in to a temporary rehab unit in Springfield Missouri, a few hours south of St. Louis where she lived. The Harris' would stay the night and return home on Saturday.
Yes, the homes on Taylor Road are grand, most over 150 years old. And most of them purchased and improved long ago, gutted and updated, maintaining the history and charm of the period. The Harris' house sat un-touched and empty for years, in a state of gradual decay. The family nest egg was used to rescue the rotting wood, fallen gutters and overgrown shrubs. The Harris family was it's only hope; a new family with a fresh start, new blood.
It seemed odd that nobody had lived in the house for so long. Records indicated an absentee owner, one that the city found to be quite reclusive. The taxes were paid, and the lawn barely kept up by an old man who would show up once every two weeks in a pickup truck. He only did the minimum, cut the grass, picked up the dissolving newspapers on the front lawn, he checked the doors for break-ins. Once a fire was set by teenagers, in the kitchen. The Kirkwood fire department saved the place, water and smoke damage still permeated the first and second floors, a project in cue by Jenny's father. Besides the fire, there was little activity to be seen through the years. The patiently sat, waiting for new owners to resurrect it original charm and beauty.
The home stood in its familiar way, dark and alone that Friday night, rain soaked and still. Wet October leaves and oak trees framed, bordered that which was once an architecture rich with culture and style. The single light on the second floor blinked, then a gust of wind and a lighting strike blackened the home where Jenny sat in bed texting her new boyfriend Rick.