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The little house that lost its legs
The little house sat at the bottom of the road, facing a bump of a hill and all the other houses rising above it, so much higher than the little house would ever be.
Its gutter was broken and it hung at a frowning slant above two dusty windows, the once-twinkling eyes now covered by cataracts of cobwebs.
It sighed with the wind and creaked as it tried to move itself into a more comfortable position for its anticipated decomposition. It watched as the sun’s rays rippled slowly down the hill, lighting up the little house last and without much warmth at the greeting.
The little house watched the world wake up. It counted a dozen new buds on the young Maple tree that stood outside of the slender, eggshell white figure that was house number seven. It spied a cat dozing on the wooden porch of sturdy, rosy number four and the little house heard the thwack of a newspaper hitting the charming door of number one with its stained-glass attic window and blooming creeper-covered face.
In comparison the little house counted nine new weeds and sixteen dead ones in its own dry and cracked front garden. It felt how the colony of termites had expanded their home to include the living room along with the kitchen, and it heard the doleful moaning of the plumbing as it acquired a new layer of rusty skin.
The little house was preparing itself for another day of watching from the bottom of the bump of a hill when a spritely sparrow, clutching three tiny twigs, landed on its ruminative forehead.
‘Hey!’ The little house cried, ‘What do you think you are doing Mr. Sparrow?’
‘Well little house,’ the sparrow chirped, ‘I’m building a nest in your wrinkles!’
“You don’t want to do that Mr. Sparrow, I’m a condemned house. Didn’t your mother ever teach you about condemned houses?’
The sparrow gave a short, light laugh and hopped onto the windowsill, ‘Yes but you weren’t always a condemned house were you?’
The little house went quite still, ‘No, I wasn’t,” it replied.
‘What were you?’ The sparrow asked with a tilt of the head and a clicking of the beak.
‘I was a moving house,’ the little house whispered melancholically.
‘No!’ the sparrow said disbelievingly, ‘My dear little house, I’ve been to many houses and none of them can move!’
‘I did move! I’ll tell you the story of how I came to be at the bottom of this bump of a hill if you would stop tweeting for a minute and listen,’ the little house grumbled. The sparrow opened one wing and bowed his head, inviting the house to begin.
‘I was built on a plot, in a lane not too far from here. They built me from good, strong wood and painted me with care. I was happy on that lane, safe-guarding the family that lived within me. That was, however, before the cat moved it.
The sparrow gave a startled bounce into the air, ‘A cat!’ It exclaimed.
‘You agreed to be quiet sparrow, now settle down!’ The little house said while sending a small sprinkling of dust upon the avian creature’s head.
‘Yes a cat. It was only a kitten when it arrived, but it grew and began to wander from the house. I pondered as to what kinds of adventures the cat was having while out on its daily excursions and my curiosity grew as to what lay beyond the lane I lived in. I decided to grow my own legs so that I too could walk about.’
‘Now that’s just crazy,’ the sparrow tweeted shrilly, ‘how do you expect me to believe such an impossible story?’
‘If you don’t believe me,’ said the little house, ‘fly down and see what address is painted beside my front door.’ With a dubious glance tossed over its shoulder, the sparrow took flight and glided down one storey to read the faded italic writing on the swollen and peeling wall.
‘Oh my!’ the amazed cry was pushed from the sparrow’s fluttering chest involuntarily. “You are number eleven Acorn Lane, but this is Historia Road!’
The sparrow returned to the sill with a downcast gaze and limp feathers, ‘I’m sorry I was so quick to judge you little house. Please continue with your story.’
‘I will, despite your obvious penchant for snap-judgments and narrow-mindedness. As I was saying; I grew four legs of my own, modeling myself after the cat of course, and I waited until my family was away before I tested them out. Those first few steps were the hardest but it felt glorious to rise up from the dirt. To move! Is there any other feeling more wonderful? Well with each stride my legs grew stronger and I traveled a great deal. I had never dreamed of such an intoxicating feeling as the freedom that enveloped me! But I was foolish and I walked too far. I stumbled onto a highway; just one leg touched the tarmac but it was enough. Before I could step back a large truck hit my leg! I heard my cry mix with the sound of splintering wood as my leg was cracked and bent.
Awash with pain and sadness I began to limp back to Acorn Lane but I never made it. I took a wrong turn and ended up at the top of that bump of a hill, although I didn’t know I had until I lost my balance and tumbled down to the end of the road. I crawled to this spot and I haven’t moved since.’
‘That’s terrible,’ said the sparrow, ‘But can’t you heal your leg or grow a new one?’
The breeze whistled through the lonely, empty chambers of the little house, ‘I’ve tried but I fear that my wooden leg is too splintered and rotten to repair. The worse thing, Mr. Sparrow, is not that I am broken but that my being broken means that I can never move again. That taste of the freedom of movement was just as deadly as the fall was, because if I had never felt that feeling I wouldn’t be feeling this heartbreak over the loss of it.’
The sparrow hopped closer to the window and peered deeper into the dark space beyond the pane. ‘Was it not worth it? Wasn’t the experience of moving worth the pain and disappointment? Would you rather live a life where you had never had that special opportunity?’
‘What do you know? You can still fly, you have that freedom!’ Creaked the house loudly, ‘Besides what am I now that I no longer have my legs?’
‘Little house! You didn’t always have legs. You weren’t even always a house! You were once a row of magnificent trees that were once a row of tiny seeds. You have transformed so greatly into what you are at this moment. Who is to say what you shall be next?
‘I don’t know if I’m worthy of being anything else or if anything else is worthy of replacing that which I have lost.’
The sparrow picked up its three tiny twigs from where it had carefully placed them, ‘Well until you figure out a way to mend your leg or what else it is that you want to be, am I worthy of building a home in your wrinkles?’
The little house seemed to straighten slightly and the moaning pipes were silenced, ‘Yes my dear Mr. Sparrow. You are most certainly worthy, and maybe you can help me figure out what a house is to do once it has lost its legs.’