Stripped of DignitybyWills©
This is a non-erotic story marking the passage of time. It contains no sex, no people. Please do not read if that is what you seek. If you enjoy this very short passage, please vote.
The vermillion sun clings tenuously to the day slinking slowly behind the distant mountains silhouetted in the gathering gloom. Once shafts of golden sunlight sparkled off the tile-clad façade pot marked with missing tiles like a jigsaw uncompleted, now tiles hold precariously to the wall, their patina of grime relieved by aerosol graffiti and reflect only decay and abandonment.
In the courtyard rats and mice scuttle under the watchful eye of a scrawny flea ridden cat to scavenge amongst the waist high weeds and border plants their roots using the years of neglect to reduce tiled pathways into a chaos of stones levering them from their bedded setting, obliterating the once careful design that brought elegance and clarity.
Pigeons enter through glassless windows and settle into their night-time roosts gently cooing a lullaby to echo in empty rooms long since abandoned to the ravages of wind, rain and hot remorseless sun. Mice, noses twitching, inspect droppings seeking a grain, a morsel, vestiges of human occupation long since consumed, and pursue a relentless course around the skirting boards amongst and over the detritus of ornate plasterwork crumbled on the floorboards that marked the salon, facing the river, as a place of splendour in a bygone age.
The dissipation of the daytime heat brings fractional movement to the building fabric, timber creaking, roof-tiles settling, opening further to the ravages of weather. The rendered wall to the courtyard facing the full glare of the sun bears witness to times' relentless march, a fine dust cascades from the surface swirled in the late evening breeze slowly exposing layers of burgundy red bricks where tunnel bees bore into the mortar and weaken the walls resolve. Above, the crumbling cornice once painted as stone betrays its core of brick, a masquerade, ornamentation to enhance a long past glory.
In the last glimmer of light bats emerge from the attic dormer window flitting toward the plane trees along the waters edge in search of an evening meal their high pitched squeaks barely audible above the murmur of the river that slaps the sloped buttress of the promenade, recent in the life span of the house, controlling the spring floods that annually threatened riverside dwellings, too often in past years flooding the servant rooms on the lower floor, the family content to wallow in the hubris of their routine turning blind eyes to the squalor pooling below.
These homes, small mansions, graced the promenade at the turn of the nineteenth century standing nobly amongst the collection of workshops, boat-builders and hovels spreading away toward the wind and tidal mills west of the town. They were the homes of traders and merchants bringing goods from the hinterland for onward shipment by sailing barge to the capital, their warehouses fronting the narrow streets leading away from the promenade.
The dead silence of the pre-dawn magnifies the funereal air enveloping the house, here families lived, children played and guests were entertained admiring the vista across the river before dining sumptuously in a manner befitting the stature and position of its former residents. No feet have trod here in thirty years, lower floor windows and doorways bricked over to deter illicit occupation by gypsy families who squat in nearby buildings abandoned by successive generations in preference for the modernity and comfort of new apartments.
In the still air that welcomes dawn, stray dogs pad the pavement sniffing at traces laid earlier adding their stain against the soft stone plinth etched from years of abuse and neglect eventually to crumble like the metal sheet of the courtyard door, now a filigree of rust at its extremities ravaged by canine and weather.
A column of ants march through an opening between hastily erected bricks feasting on the dead carcase of a bird or rodent within, extracting sustenance from the sweetness of putrefaction relentless in pursuit of food. Tunnel bees stir in the early morning warmth walls resonating with their buzz as they seek to withdraw from their precisely bored holes in search of pollen to feed the larvae within. The straggled geraniums trailing through the pregnant bulge of the rusted wrought iron balustrade to the salon offer little nourishment; starved of water they hang limply below the stonework of the balcony, a few scarlet flowers bright against the dust, rust and cobwebs where children once called to friends on the pavement below, a stain on the stones now marks the line of the ironwork above, its former blue paint barely discernable on the rust flaked fretwork.
A cat in search of breakfast stealthily prowls inside eyes wide in the gloom waiting to pounce and terrify a careless mouse, for a brief moment a flurry of activity in rooms that ache for movement, before it settles to dine oblivious to the surroundings, a tenant in possession.
Shafts of sunlight through broken and slipped roof tiles cross the dust carpeted upper rooms stirring burrowing, crawling and flying residents in a glare of passage marking the hours of the day, heat raising smells of decay to waft in the heavy humid air that pits itself remorselessly in a one sided battle to subdue and destroy. The winter rains begin the process, pouring through holes, cascading from collapsed gutters to undermine foundations, penetrating behind fractured plaster softening and easing the march of deterioration for the cycle of day and night, heat and cool, and to bring the house ever slowly to its knees whilst it waits patiently for the release of demolition before, stripped of dignity, it crumbles into dust.