The house you see is not the house I remember or the one I live in. It's what you see.
Sometimes I think I've imagined it all, that earlier life in the woods, but I didn't.
Before my return, I lived in a small village and the villagers did not want me near them. They just visited me when they were in need. Like a thief in the night, they crept through the forest to ask me for a 'favour'. They didn't care if I was asleep or if I wanted to help them, as long as I made their wishes come true I was tolerated. When things went well for the village and its inhabitants, I was not feared. I never received a compliment, a thank you.
Believe me, I've seen it all. The hypocrisy, the liars, the violence. Humankind is a strange duck and is worse than the devil. He finds it normal to oppress another and to lecture again and again. He does not see the beam in his own eye. What goes wrong is always someone else's fault.
Sighing, I got up, when there was a bang on my door, and turned my shawl around. I had no choice but to open the door if I didn't want to start all over again. My cat's eyes lit up in the dark. He too looked disturbed and as I hurried to the door he slipped away. In the wider area, people knew who I was and they said I was always at home. Only when the doctors, the quacks, and specialists couldn't solve their problems they came to me, and to be honest I had enough of it. Only when someone else messed up, they no longer saw a way out, they hurried over with their list of demands as if they owned me. Shouldn't I leave?
I heard the laments as I put water on for tea, tea I made from the herbs that grew in the forest around me. It's so peaceful there unless there are visitors or hikers, I thought as I poured the water into the cups.
There is no reason to buy something that comes from far away. You never know what's inside and all we need grows around us, I heard my mother's voice say. I smiled she was right. Almost everything I needed grew here, and I didn't need the money that those in need offered me. I accepted it because people only value you if what you do has a price tag. For free makes the motivation needed to change disappear. A person in need is willing to do the craziest things.
As a child, I lacked nothing. I was glowing with health, much to the horror of classmates and the villagers. How could it be that I was never sick and always happy? I think it's because we embraced nature, and spent a lot of time outside. We walked a lot, had no car, no TV, and learned to occupy ourselves and survive on a very low budget.
Our family wasn't counting on others and like back then I still lived independently. I saved up the money I had and carefully recorded in my journal how much I received, from whom, and why. I was not as crazy as my ancestors. History had made me wiser so whoever wanted something from me at this nocturnal hour had to clearly describe it and sign the agreement with his expectations and my solution included. Without a signature, there was no deal.
A promise is easily made, but broken even faster, Grandma always warned. That she spoke from an experience I personally undertook when the next war started. She lived in the large villa that had once been bombed and bought by grandfather. He had renovated it and made something beautiful out of it. Each day of his life he added something to the house.
The envy of the local residents was great and often someone stood at the stately door to complain. Long before the knocker in the shape of a lion's head pounded on the heavy door, the gravel path already warned us of someone's arrival.
Down into the cellar, my grandmother hissed as the footsteps sounded on the gravel path past the house. I've never seen her let anyone in through the main entrance. The basement was my refuge. It was under the hallways of the house. Between the many weck jars, I walked to the only bright spot that came from above. This was where I saw the feet of the crowd standing at the side door. I heard a man's voice shouting, I recognized the voice of a woman who was grandmother's best friend, I heard each word. They didn't know I saw them, they didn't even know I was there. I heard the angry voices, a cry of pain, screaming, the scolding false witch as blood dripped through the grille on me.
I didn't move, couldn't cover my ears, and waited with my eyes closed until it was all over and became silent. It felt like an eternity but at the moment I felt a breeze and the moonlight shone on me I fled. Only once I looked back and saw the pyres on which the people stood surrounded by flames. People who could not help their fellow man. It was not unwillingness, but the impossible questions and wishes that prevented that from happening.
Between his laments, he took sips of the tea I had given him. He stank and breathed heavily. How much alcohol did he drink before he decided to ask for my help? As I took notes, I knew I couldn't help him, but I didn't want to either. I knew who he was, a lost case. It had been his voice years ago that shouted that we were parasites and we all had to be exterminated.
It had been he who had incited the villagers and burned my grandparents at the stake. Since then, their beautiful villa had been destroyed and abandoned. Fortunately, no one had dared to buy or enter it. On the pyres where my grandparents had stood now grew two huge trees that protected the house. No living soul would ever set a foot inside. The house ventured a sense of shame in anyone who had ever walked the gravel path. The misdeeds, born of envy and own shortcomings, the village on the moor would rather ignore and forget.
I observed the monster in front of me. The smelly drunk who wanted me to solve his misery. Silently I pushed the sheet of paper towards him.
He knew what it meant. I wouldn't do anything for him without his blood signature. He picked up the silver pen that gleamed in the moonlight and hesitated for only a second. I picked up the signed agreement and as I read aloud his name written in red he lifted his head with difficulty and looked at me.
Slowly I poured him another cup of the brew. This numbing potion was all I would do for him. I stood up and nodded at him. He sat paralyzed at the table and stared into the fire as I left my cabin with the contract and a bag of my most prized possessions. The old cat walked ahead of me out of the woods. It wasn't the first time in my life that I saw something dear to me go up in flames, but it was just a hut. My self-built cabin where I had lived for years. Once more I looked back and saw that it was all right. This was the exception to the rule of the all-consuming fire. The true monster and all its descendants would do no more damage. I followed my old companion through the path it was time to go home and my cat knew the way. The villa awaited us.
Houses can be interesting and fun to live in.Sometimes due to the environment and the people in it