Tillie Street

I didn’t always see it. I mean, I’m pretty sure there were days when it just wasn’t there. Of course, it could have been I that I wasn’t looking. I mean, it’s on my way to work, and some mornings I’m pretty distracted by the thoughts of my workload ahead. Yeah, right. What am I saying? I guess some days I didn’t see it cause I was just in a rush. Let’s face it, if I’m not running late I’m not going anywhere.

Anyway I digress. It just seemed, you know, really obvious the days I did see it. Which is what makes me suspect that it wasn’t always there. But that’s crazy talk, right? A building can’t just be there one day and not the next. Can it?

The building in question was a small pink house, severely dilapidated, and completely out of step with the terraced houses on either side of it. The picture of entropy, the thick paintwork on the façade was peeling itself away to reveal, well, kind of nothing. Same was true of the window frames and the front door, which was once perhaps cheery in its coordinating bright blue. The colour scheme looking less classy, more cheap and gaudy now in disrepair. It had the look of a home that had been abandoned for some time, decades even, maybe longer? There were filthy old lace curtains still hanging in the windows.

The detail that most threw me, is also the one that drew me in. I often walked past close enough to see that on the inside window sills there were vases of decrepit fabric flowers, frayed and stained by time. Who knew that even plastic flowers could wilt? I found myself increasingly fascinated by the house. It looked so emaciated and yet so lived in at the same time. Like the owner had just popped out for bread and milk and just kept on walking. Or maybe it was the nearby local they popped out to, drank themselves to oblivion, lost their mind with their keys and never found their way home. Maybe the owner died and no living relative ever came to check on them? I heard of that happening once. A caretaker at a school I once worked in fell down the stairs in his own home. The fall was fatal, but he wasn’t discovered until months later when the bailiffs came to collect his T.V for failure to pay his licence fee. Tragic that, isn’t it?

One day I plucked up enough courage to go and peer in the window. I couldn’t make much out past the fake flowers and the dirty netting. I stared as hard as I could into the gloom until I got the weirdest sensation that something, I mean someone, was looking back at me. I thought I’d just glimpsed a face, small like a school child’s, impossibly still, only inches away from my own through the glass. Framed by hair in a short dark bob, baleful black eyes looked out at me from under a heavy fringe.

If I’m honest, that kind of creeped me out. I stepped back so quickly from the window I almost over shot the pavement and stepped right out on to the road. I’m glad it’s not a busy street, or I’d have been explaining to my boss about my lateness due being run over. I mean at my age, some excuses just aren’t going to wash.

So I really don’t know what I saw. If I really saw anything at all. But the thing I can’t get my head around it is the fact that I never seem to see that house any more. It’s like I’ve remembered to look out for it when I’ve already walked too far up the street. And on mornings when I’m hurrying, which is most mornings really, I find my self watching for it out of the corner of my eye. Like it’s some kind of optical trick, one where you can’t see something when you look directly at it.
Anyway, the house I’m telling you about is on Tillie Street. Let me know if you’ve seen it. I’m just dying to know what you think.

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