There is a crooked house sitting on the middle shelf of the book case. She sees it and thinks of how it wasn’t always crooked. He bought it on their honeymoon seven years ago when they visited a village in southern France named Carcasonne. A local man had set up a table in the square, selling handcrafted wood trinkets, and she’d looked at it and said, “When I think of our dream house, it looks like that. Nothing extravagant. Just something sweet and built by love.”
So her husband bought it for her and she packed it neatly into her suitcase and it flew with them back over the big, blue ocean, where it made its home in their new home.
Before the crooked house was crooked, it was a silent observer of many things. It acquired several neighbors in the form of Hemingway and Frost and Rumi and Steinbeck. It watched from a close distance when she and he kissed each other on the doorstep before they both left for their respective jobs. It eavesdropped on the sounds of inside jokes and laughter, love-making, and bickering over which of them had forgotten to pay a certain bill. It silently sighed with relief as she rescued it from the jaws of the puppy who’d arrived one Christmas morning, bouncing and fluffy and wearing a big, red bow.
Before the crooked house was crooked, she could simply swish a duster across it a few times to clean it, but now she has to carefully pick it up and gently blow the particles. Some days, she can’t blow the dust off because her breath catches on a tight knot in the back of her throat. On those days, she holds it in her lap and recalls the day the crooked house became crooked.
Over the course of five years, she has forgotten what the fight was about. All she can recall is him shouting, grabbing the tiny wood house, and slamming it on the rug. That and sitting up all night long attempting to glue the pieces back together.
He said he was sorry, but sorry wasn’t going to make the crooked house straight again.