TWO: Scary House / by Lauren Artiles


The house is at the end of your street. The house is on the side of a road you came upon by accident. The house is nestled like a tumor between the crags of two mountains. The house belongs to the old man that eats kids, that’s what Skyler told you, so you can’t go get your softball from the yard or else. The house belonged to a beautiful young couple, but then they died in a car crash and the next people to move in... well, you heard what happened with the knives. The house has belonged to no one for years, so why does a light turn on in the attic every night? The house belonged to someone else but now it belongs to you; it was so affordable, and you are not superstitious; you inherited it from a twice-removed aunt; you are a –sitter or a –watcher, assigned to take care.

If you are a teenager in the house, you look 35. If you are a child in this house, it will manifest a friend for you to play with. If you are an adult male, your lack of faith in the house and chance of death are positively correlated; doubled if you have an improbably good job and an attachment to gadgets; tripled if you have complex facial hair. If you are a dog, you will be assigned an empty corner to stare at. If you are a baby in the house, you are probably already a ghost, sorry. 

The house comes in two models, IKEA and Rococo.

The house mostly wants to tease you. Sometimes, it really wants to fuck you and that’s terrifying, but doesn’t it also make you feel a little special—to be chosen, wanted? The whole house loves you! Every room’s in accord, every brick and windowpane. For you, pipes burst and walls seep red sap. The house is willing to dismantle itself in part or in whole, for you. Tell me you haven’t always wanted to ask that of a lover. Humans have clumsy hands and a tendency to wander. The house has roots. You can come back tomorrow, and it will be standing, still, in the spot where you left it. The house waits for you. Always patient. The house is tender. It will learn how to speak your name, in the voices of all your most favorite people.

You can destroy the house and it still won’t give up on you. When the wormy ground opens up to suck it back in, it will try as hard as it can to bring you along. The house is generous. In its place, it leaves an empty lot: a wound you can visit again and again. You can come as a pilgrim, with a small and honest tribute, or as a tourist, with a camera whose pictures will kindly warn you ahead of time about future disasters. If you bring it stones or wood, the house will spawn itself back and it swears it’ll be better this time, baby. The house just wants to tell you some stuff, what it knows about stains that never come clean. You act like you don’t want to learn, but only because that’s part of your job. The house is not offended. Your job is to turn the house on. It needs a person to set it in motion and you need a place to live. Perfect reciprocity! The house is at the end of your street. You are already knocking on the door.