by Alexander Conrad
darker hours

empty rooms
silent hallways
that lead to groaning staircases
hardly better lit than
all those rooms
with no one in them
I broke into the house
through one of the rooms
as a matter of fact
it was my childhood bedroom
long since freshly painted and refurnished
foreign to me but for the
trick spring action of the
antique lock on the window
and the feel of that window
sliding effortlessly upward
assisted by a system of ropes
pulleys and weights
within the walls
I climbed
much as I had climbed
many years ago
made my way towards
the door to the hallway
finding the knob as easily
as I had thousands of times before
in the dark
I opened it to a
startling silence
that can be found within
homes that have been
empty for some days and
will remain so for several to come
the family who had come after mine
bought the shabby farmhouse
with lofty goals
grandiose dreams and a
healthy ambition
which was an absolute prerequisite
for purchasing a house that had
seen the Civil War
and had been lived in
for the decade preceding their purchase
without a single repair
having been preformed
the shutters draped
the plaster was cracked and
even falling from the ceiling
in the kitchen
a dark creeping mold had
invaded the nooks and corners
the pipes groaned with effort
when the water was turned on
and the security was
a bit lacking
but the new owners had
come in here
and begun the process of making
long-needed repairs and had even
put their own stamp on some things
I caught wind
that they were out of town
through some bizarre coincidence
of offhand conversation
and although I had not broken in
to a stranger’s home
in ten years or more  
I could not resist the temptation of
the voyeur
I just had to sneak
one last peak
and as I made my survey of the
empty rooms
the silent hallways
I found myself half revolted and
half pleased
that these interlopers
were doing away with what was
and making this place their own
but I couldn’t shake a
certain sorrow
that had fallen over me
I made my way into the kitchen
rooted through the drawers
found a pen and a
scrap of paper
and having now seen all that
I needed to or
all that I could stand
I went back to my old bedroom
turned on the light
closed the door
scribbled a note on a desk
that was clearly placed
where a desk
did not belong
and in the middle of that room
is a loose floorboard
that for years had served to hide
all that I needed to
keep hidden
I put the note there
face up
replaced the board
shut out the light
and snuck back out the window
for the last time
all the note said was
Hello Stranger
and I dated it
for an added
eerie effect

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