Blink, Blink, Blink. Always three blinks of the attic light. Always three blinks at 3 a.m. never seen by the sleeping people on Sycamore Street.
If the people on Sycamore Street had seen the light, they would have just thought it was a weird quirk of the old house. The people of Sycamore Street always looked askance at the old house. Even the neighborhood bully, Reggie, who claimed to not be afraid of anything, quickened his steps as he walked past the house.
The old house, with its soulful windows and gaping doorway, had been empty as long as most of the residents could remember. This made the house sad and lonely. The house was so lonely it wished it had a spirit to keep it company. Unfortunately, no one had ever died within his walls, so that was just wishful thinking. At times, the thought of taking the life of one of the drifters that sometimes spent the night curled up in the corner of his basement flitted through his mind, but he could never do that. A live person would bring much more sustenance to his soul. Besides, that would be wrong and having someone curled up next to him to get warm brought warmth to his walls.
One day, a family showed up to look him over. They walked from room to room as the realtor told all his secrets.
“You can see the floors and walls need some attention. Also, there are some windows that have cracked. Of course, the picture window up front is in one piece. I understand if you want to replace it, though. The etchings are a little disturbing,” she shuddered.
She also said good things about him, so he withheld judgment.
“I think we’ve seen enough,” said the man who the realtor called Mr. Stein.
“Are you certain, Winston?” asked his wife, Muriel.
“Certainly. I think that with a little work, this will be a good place to raise Millie and a good place for me to write. I need a quiet place like this to finish my first book. You know I edit by reading aloud,” he winked.
The house was disappointed when they left, but he grew hopeful when the workmen showed up to refurbish his floors and rewire his electricity. They even rehung the antique door next to his picture window with the etched glass. It was wonderful how youthful the old house began to feel.
In a month, all the work was done, and the young family moved in. The house enjoyed so much love and laughter for many years until things slowly began to change.
The first change was Millie. She had grown and gone off to college, only returning for short visits. After a few years, the visits became less often. Winston wrote about Millie going off to college and getting a career in the big city. None of that made sense to the old house. All he knew was he missed the sound of her happy, little feet running on his floors.
As the years passed, the house grew used to Millie visiting only occasionally. Later, she would visit with her new husband. Later still, they would bring their son, and the house once again rang with the sound of a child’s feet. The old house relished those days when the little family visited but was otherwise content with the love that Winston and Muriel used to fill his rooms.
“Winston, I’m so glad you chose this house. It has served us well all these years,” yawned Muriel. “I know you want to write, so I will see you later.”
One day, Winston began to write about Muriel being sick. The house wasn’t certain what that meant, but he could tell by Winston’s tears that it was something bad. The house wished that it had tears to cry with Winston.
“Why, Muriel? Why do you have to leave me?” sobbed Winston. “What will I do without you to love?”
The day came that Millie arrived. There were no happy feet that day. All the feet were somber, even the littlest ones. A week and many tears later and new somber feet came to carry Muriel away.
After Millie and her family left, Winston walked in the study and sighed, “I guess it’s just you and me, old house. What do we do now?”
The house didn’t know how to answer that, but he was glad that Winston seemed to figure it out. The house missed Muriel, but Winston kept the old house company and continued to read his writing to him.
Winston grew quiet as the years passed by. Millie and her family got busy and came around less often. It was just Winston, the house, and the clacking of the keyboard most days. The only interruption was the weekly grocery delivery. Winston didn’t leave the house anymore, and that was fine. The house enjoyed his company.
The one thing the house didn’t care for was that, with no one around to complain, Winston began to smoke more, and he began to smoke in the house. The house didn’t like the smell or the yellowed walls, but what he really didn’t like was when Winston began to cough. They were long, deep coughs that sounded as though they would tear Winston apart. There were days the house thought it would be torn apart by the sound alone.
“Muriel, I miss you so much, and I’m growing sick. I know that I will see you soon. I hope you waited for me, “said Winston into the emptiness of his study.
Winston didn’t have time to finish his last book before he felt the need to reunite with Muriel.
One day the somber feet returned. This time, they carried Winston away.
Millie came to empty the house of the family’s belongings, but the house wasn’t sad. The family’s love had permeated his walls.
Besides, how could he be sad? The spirits of Winston and Muriel assured the old house they would never leave him. He would never have to be alone again.
Through it all, his attic light blinked three times every morning at three o’clock, and it continues until this very day. Blink, Blink, Blink.