Two Ships, Passing in the Night
rating: +8+x

There were once two identical houses. Each house had a pair within. Time moved swiftly forward and the pairs aged with this time. First, one pair lost their other half. Quickly, they were gone too. And the house sat empty.

The other pair promised it wouldn’t happen to them.

So, one day, one half picked up a gun, with a last promise and a kiss, they blew their lover’s candles out. Then, only momentarily in the horrible state of being alone, it was their time. Now both houses sat empty. The brother and sister arrived at the house with no blood on its walls, but they fought – first verbally, then physically, then legally.

One day the fog cleared as if pushed aside by a stiff breeze, compelled by some higher being that the siblings didn't believe in, but felt influenced by. The brother and sister realised how silly they were being, in the house that once belonged to such a loving pair. They called a silent truce and packed up – leaving the house alone once more.

All the while, the house of apparent tragedy had sat empty. It only hosted weeds in the garden, and kudzu had worked its way around the outside, invading through the windows.

The house, just as homes and people sometimes become, was broken. So, there was surprise when three figures took a chance and moved in. One could be seen wearing gardening gloves, removing wheelbarrows of weeds and kudzu. Another could be seen steadily cleaning the home, even removing the flaky blood from the musky walls. And the third, much smaller than the other two, could be seen making their own secret home in the overgrown garden, serving tea to a host of cuddly toys.

They were still working when five figures moved into the other house. These people saw how hard they were working. They brought over steaming casserole dishes and occasional clunking glass bottles. More importantly, they brought over friendship. For the first time in a long time, both houses were filled with light and laughter.

The two smallest had the biggest things in common – each owned stuffed toy was promptly named, loved, and shared at will; every fake cup of tea drunk with gusto and a contented sigh. Then, one day, hand in hand, the two smallest left their homes for an adventure. A monster with nails as long as claws, black gaps where its eyes should be, and a hunger for something food could not satiate found them instead.

Kept alive, locked away, alone – terrified by this creature that seemed to come from another world, that leered at them with a mouth on its belly, that stared at them despite apparent blindness, that talked in a language neither child knew.

Their bodies weren’t found for six months. Stuck together with black tape – bound by plastic.

Something had interpreted the little ones’ fun. Something still on the loose. Something with skin that felt like a snake and had wrists that held no pulse.

The larger group left their home first. Full of grief and unable to look at those they had been so close to – each blamed the other for the tragedy, even though they sometimes just happen. Grief can do strange things.

Not long after that, the pair in the other home split in half. Neither wanted to live there, with the memories and the faint smell of blood. So, the home became a house again. They stayed empty that way until something stronger than a force of nature turned against them, a thousand times stronger than only weeds or twisting kudzu.

The tides stopped peacefully coming in and out. A violent wind that seemed to come from no-where caused them to crash onto the beach, then the boardwalk, then started flooding into the neighbourhoods.

Undeterred as they had been in the face of tragedy, the houses had little hope against the storm beating them down. Quickly, each became free from their foundations with a creak and a shudder. For a while they even floated impressively, creating a bizarre optical illusion in the rising water.

Then, when these two houses with so much in common came within an arm's reach, they both shuddered at the same time, pushed by the same wave. And then, they went under, as if they’d never been there at all. Maybe they hadn't, and it was all someone else's dream – the suicide, the murder, the monster, the pain of emptiness.

It was as if all the painful and joyous events had never happened. And no one needed the corpses of empty houses to remind them, so something bigger than nature dismissed the buildings as useless. But, before they died, the houses became as two ships, passing in the night.

The End of it All

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