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Sept 14, 2022

the first night in the new house

Nina Nouwens

They tell me that the new house is small, just the perfect size, really, just for me. But when everyone leaves and I wave the last car from my porch, watching their headlights fade out, the halls stretch wide. There are nooks and crannies that are now my very own nooks and crannies, and the silence bounces back at me off of the too-blue walls that I hate and cannot wait to change. There’s a Taylor Swift song somewhere that captures this silence, that plays softly in the back of my mind like a record player, twirling around and around in another room. Drifting under the door, sneaking through the cracks.

The kitchen counters are cleared, the dishwasher filled—and set to run in the morning. This dishwasher has that ability. My mom had pointed out how convenient that was a dozen times. I scrub at the spotless countertops. I run my hands over the wood. There is no one here to tell me what to do, and suddenly freedom sounds less like a wide open world and more like a wide open pit. There is a strange noise, from somewhere. The house and I are still getting to know each other. Isn’t it funny how they never show houses at night? 

But if I start to let myself be afraid of the house, then I will be forever, so I chase that thought around the kitchen island, leaving it somewhere by the window. Tomorrow, I will hang lace curtains in that window and send the fear out with the morning breeze. The dog wags her tail, because she’s not fussed by a little bit of strange noise—maybe she is already on better terms with the house than I am. The flowers on the dining room table, a gift from my best friends, are lit by the moon. They have brought me a veritable rainbow, pinks and yellows and oranges and dark green leaves crammed into a beer glass. After the lace curtains, I will need to find a vase.

The yellow daisies are my favorites. Or, they are my sister’s favorites; but the spot where her favorites ended and mine started had blended into nothingness years before. I lift one out of the beer glass, press it under my chin. It was the wrong sort of flower, anyway, but I can hear my sister’s voice: see, I told you, you like butter. 

I grab another beer glass. I bring the daisy with me, placing it on my nightstand. 

I wonder if the house would like it if I planted buttercups. 

I swear, the house makes a noise; something in the basement creaks. Agreeing.

Nina Nouwens works in libraries by day and writes by night. She's a sucker for second chances, poetry that hurts, and the abyss blinking back at you. When she’s not writing, you can find Nina in her garden or chasing around her dog.