Man of Time

“We stayed too long in that wretched house,” Harold said. “I hated that house.”

“Houses don’t have a life of their own.”

“This one did,” Harold said. “It came alive when you were all alone.”

“How so?”Pieter was puzzled.

“It was a Saturday morning,” Harold said. “I was behind on work, and I was completely absorbed with it that I had forgotten Liz had taken the children to go shopping. I was by myself, alone in that big house, sitting in the living room, looking at paper work when I heard, James crying. I couldn’t remember if Liz had taken him or not, so I went upstairs to check on him. But he wasn’t in his room. He cried again, and so I thought Liz had laid him down to sleep in our room. When I checked, he wasn’t there. I heard the crying in the hallway, then it drifted down the stairwell into the foyer. It gave me a chill because the crying sounded less human. The crying continued through out the house in different rooms, getting louder and louder as it came nearer. When it passed me up, it echoed so loudly in my hear, I felt my head vibrate as if it had been in my head. It frightened me so. The crying stopped and it resumed this time it was Liz I heard crying, or I thought it was her.

“Suddenly, I could hear her voice clearly in my ear as I searched the house, trying to find where it came from. She started lamenting about how miserable I was making her. She cursed at me, damned me, said these horrible things Liz would never say, regretting to tell everybody what a horrible deed I had committed against her, saying she was going to leave me for good. I couldn’t bare to hear them. This went on for a while until I heard Liz’s slamming the car door outside. I rushed down to greet her and I grabbed her and made her to promise me to never leave her. I made her the similar promise. I was never the same after that day. That voice haunted me…but they were not her words. It happened to me a few more times. I finally had enough and took my family out of that house for the last time. I found a smaller house, more crapped and wet, and we staid there until I could decide what to do next.”

“How different it would have been if you had staid?”

“I did what I thought was best,” Harold said firmly. “I–I quit my job, and we left Florida to start again. ”

“You chose a different path,” said Pieter. “Some paths are better than others. You could have decided to go never get back with Liz. You could have dedicated more time to your work, neglected your family, lived a different life and yet choose this one path.”

“But, I didn’t,” Harold sounded dejected.

“No, you wouldn’t have it any other way,” Pieter smiled. “I’d like to know the rest of the story.”

Harold sighed deeply, “I took my family back to my childhood home. My parents lived in a small house so we had to live in the basement of my grandparents house. Liz was a trooper. She had always been the optimistic between us. I went back to school to finish medical school. I don’t know why I took the difficult route… Those were my happiest days. I can’t say why. We lived in a dark, cold basement. It got so cold, the kids had to sleep upstairs. Liz was all excited about the whole thing. She would be out of bed before we all rose. She couldn’t wait to start her day. She had this high energy that was contagious. It was annoying, though I was never an optimistic. She had this way about her. When I was with her, life was wonderful. When I was away, my world was dark and lonely… Where are we going now?”

As before everything went pitch black, so black, Harold could barely tell if he was awake or asleep.

“Here we go,” Pieter could see clearly. “Ah, there she is.”

“She was always humming that funny little song,” Harold said.

“Are you missing her, yet?”

Harold sighed. “Nothing got her down, not even living with my grandparents, the most apathetic people anybody could live with. They found everything humorless. There were times during dinner Liz would promptly me to talk about what ever material I was learning. One time, I got really interested in the function of blood cells that I forgot we were at the dinner table. Grandfather, stopped the conversation because he didn’t want to hear about such things while he ate. Liz found the whole thing amusing, she never faltered to be in a good mood. She was my sunshine.”

“You wouldn’t have it any other way?”

“No,” Harold smile, “I hadn’t realized I was dull until I met her. I was once told that Liz made me look animated, without her I was dull. I was surprised to be told that, and yet, something in me knew I was dry like my grandparents. Liz made me special.”

“One of a kind,” Pieter said. “Do you remember now?”

“Remember what?”

“What you’ve forgotten all along,” Pieter said.

“Where are we going now?” Harold hated how the darkness descended upon them.

Man of Time

“After three months the nanny was quiet about these strange incidents that occurred in the house,” Harold said.

“You mean the noises?”

“I guess you can say that,” Harold shrugged. “i was too busy with work I barely noticed anything, it was one blurry day after another. Liz had finished decorating the house, and by then she was starting to show. I tried being there for her, but my job became demanding. That’s when… This is ridicules, must I go on. Must I go through it again?”

“Mistakes are always repeated because forget they did them.”

“I-I-I’ve had enough,” Harold fumed, “take me back. Wait! Where are you taking me?”

“I believe this was another party you work threw,” Pieter signaled to a large group gathering with music, food, and gaiety all around. Liz was among the group. “Looks like she’s looking for someone. I don’t see you anywhere.”

“I don’t want to be here,” Harold was sullen. “Can we go.”

“I see you now. There you are and there goes Liz,” Pieter said regretting that soon after. “Oh, dear. Why are you holding that other women? Oh, no, Liz doesn’t know.”

“I didn’t-I was-I wanted to-I-” Harold looked down at his hands, disappointed.

“Is that what you were trying to avoid?”

“It wasn’t like that,” Harold said defensively. “It wasn’t like that at all.”

“Oh, dear, there goes Liz crying.”

“I told you I didn’t want to be here,” Harold said, “Nothing happened. It was all out of context.”

“How far did you go?”

Those words echoed in Harold’s head, as if another memory came into view. His father had repeated those same words when he found out what Harold had done to Liz.

“It never went far, it was just an infatuation,” Harold blurted in anger. “I told her to stop. She wouldn’t stop. Liz kicked me out of the house soon after. She wouldn’t listen to me. I rented an apartment on the other side of town. What was I supposed to do? I was angry at Liz, for refusing to listen to me. When I was actually angry at myself for even thinking about it. I was hoping she would come to her senses. I came by the house on the weekends to visit the children, but Liz refuse to see me. A month went by then another month and I didn’t do anything more.”

“What did you think was going to happen?”

“I don’t know,” Harold said. “I didn’t think anything. I was scarred. I loved my children. Then one day out of the blue I received a letter from her lawyer. She wanted a divorce and something came over. I went into a rage. We should be talking about this, but instead she just wanted a divorce. I swore that if she took the kids away from me I would make her life hell. she couldn’t do this to me.”

“What did you do?”

“I refused to giver her the divorce if she didn’t meet with me,” Harold said. “Honestly, I just wanted to see her. I was missing her… She agreed. I didn’t know how she would react to seeing me. I was actually afraid. There I was, sitting with a stranger and Liz. I was worried about Liz hating me. I guess if I was in her shoes I would have done the same. That first day we waited and waited, and Liz didn’t show up. She had simply forgotten. We scheduled for another appointment and she was late to that one. The next session, was the same, always running late.

“When she finally showed up, she simply sat down, avoided looking at me and waited for someone to talk. I don’t really think she was listening half the time she was there. She never looked angry or confused. She was calm, like her mind was somewhere else. She refused to acknowledge me even when I spoke, as if I was invisible. Do you know what feels like. I worried about her, especially being in that big house. I would call and Helga would answer. I knew something was amiss by the way Helga acted.”

“In what way?”

“One day Helga called me, something had frightened her,” Harold tried to dig into his memory. “She was alone by herself. She said things only got worse when you were alone. I didn’t know what she meant by that. I assumed she was letting her imagination lose. I found nothing strange in the home. But it was never about the house, honestly, if it hadn’t been for that house I would have never gotten back together with Liz.”

“How did that happen?”

“Liz and I were separated for a long while,” Harold sighed, “I gave her all the time she needed, also because I got caught up with work, I sort of let life happen. She gave birth to a boy, and I as still living away from home. We were slowly talking again. Soon after our son, James was born, I noticed the children were not their cheery deposition. They seemed cranky and tired, prone to crying. James, was the worst, he was not sleeping well, keeping Liz awake at all hours of the day. When he finally would doze off, minutes later he would disrupt in to a crying fit. It would take hours for Liz to him back to sleep. She was exhausted most days. I was really afraid. Something in that house was causing my family to change… I finally said enough and took them out of there for a few days… We went to a bed and breakfast not far from there. Liz slept for three days straight and James finally quiet down. Those were probably the best days I ever had with my family since we moved into that house.”

“Did everything turn out right?”

“It did,” Harold said. “We got back together. I decided to work from home, so I could help Liz with the children…”

“Then why do you look upset?”

“I should have take my family out of that house sooner,” Harold felt regret, “but I didn’t.”