Prologue

It was in an old part of the city that had fallen out of fashion that I saw the house.

Looming on a bluff above the lake, it stirred in me nostalgia for beauty, a longing for a time when objects and buildings were crafted with respect for the human soul.

I longed to walk its wooden floors, climb its gracefully curving staircase, cross its gallery landing, feel the craftsmanship of its woodwork against my fingertips, and take in its detail, its mystery, its artistry.

I traversed the cracked pathway to the door and gazed through the little window in the arched portico. The glass was frosted with years of accumulated dust and dirt. I peered past the grime and into the front hall, where the stairs ascended from the tiled floor. I glimpsed the parlor to the left of the hall and admired the coffered ceiling, built-in bookcases, and large stone fireplace. I looked up and marveled at the arches and the vaulting. I felt the kind of reverence the pious feel in prayer.

The old oaks in front of the house stood in splendor as well. Their barks were finely textured, their branches bent into magnificent curves. Vines grew up the sides and the front of the house, twisting around each other, some choked by others, brown and dry; some burning yellow or red in the autumn sun.

There was an old sign buried in the overgrown grass. The ink had faded years before, but I discerned the imprints of the words FOR SALE OR RENT. 

There was no indication of where to inquire.

I strolled down the path away from the house and turned to absorb its beauty once more. The sun was setting behind it, transforming the sky to deep violet. I looked up at the bay windows on the second story.

The room that belonged to those windows would make an inspiring writing room. In that room I could watch the sun rise over the lake. I could sit at an old wooden table on an old wooden chair and my pen would scratch across the paper in fluid and relentless motion. I could spend early mornings working on my novel before strolling to the Strata stop to get the train to the news office. Such productive mornings would make it more pleasurable to report on the news of the day.

If I had a haven to come from and return to, I could bear the lifeless work. I would come home and spend the evenings with candles and a warm fire. I would have my books; I would read all the little volumes I cherished again and again until I felt them heal my soul’s wounds like a balm. 

It would be drafty and cold in the large house, but with wool blankets, a hat, a scarf, and warm slippers and clothes, it would be worthwhile. It would save me from the depression of the small room I inhabited now, with its solitary window, its overbearing landlady, its smell of old cabbage, and its lack of pets.

Yes — I would rent the house, and I would get a cat and a dog. The cat would sit in my lap; the dog would nestle at my feet.

The lake breeze stirred the leaves above me. The dark windows gave the house the appearance of being asleep.

And of waiting. 

I felt a strange resonance as I stood before the house. It seemed to call to me as I reluctantly turned the corner. 

Chapter 1 →