The car splutters and coughs as I drive over the old stone track. As I round the corner, the wheels spin up dust from the cracked earth. Wild plants have engulfed the old stone walls and all manner of shrubs have infected the yard. I stop in front of the house. I turn the key and let the engine die out. Silence.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath before grabbing my rucksack from the passenger seat and climbing out of the car. I keep my eyes fixed on the gravel crunching beneath my feet as I shunt the bag onto my back, feeling almost afraid to look up at the house. I haven’t seen it in so long. I haven’t even dared to imagine what it might look like now. Though even if I had, it still wouldn’t have prepared me for the sight that met me when I finally lifted my gaze.
There are holes in the roof. I imagine the missing tiles are littered through the front garden, though it’s impossible to tell since the grass is so tangled and overgrown. The guttering that runs along the bottom of the roof is either sagging, cracked or missing. It’s so blocked with moss that water is still seeping out over the rim and dripping down the wall of the house even though it hasn’t rained in days. The walls themselves are beginning to crumble. In some places huge chunks are missing, gaping wounds in the building’s flesh, and for a moment I question whether it’s safe to enter. I feel my jaw tense as I take in the state of disrepair. You loved this house once. So did I.
I wrestle with the garden gate that nature has locked shut and make my way up the garden path, long grass tickling my ankles and brambles tugging at my clothes. You used to spend so much time out here in the garden: weeding the flowers, mowing the lawn, tending to the vegetables. I even saw you repair the stone wall once. You were always busy doing something, and I know you’d hate to see the state your home’s in now. Your raised beds have long since drowned under the weight of the rampant foliage and I feel a shot of grief when I realise that I can no longer pinpoint exactly where they might be. It’s saddening to learn that small pieces of you and your life are simply fading from my mind.
I approach the heavy wooden door and come to a halt on the granite doorstep. To my left, I spot a pop of blue tile poking through the ivy clambering up the wall. I pull back the leaves to reveal your house sign. Chi Lowen. I know you told me what the name meant once upon a time, but its translation escapes me now. I remember when I was young, maybe 6 or 7, I used to love hearing you speak Cornish. I would point to objects around the house with stubby little fingers and bright eyes, asking—demanding even—that you tell me their names in Cornish. I can still hear the sound of you chuckling as I desperately searched around me for the most obscure and unusual items possible, but you’d always have an answer for me. I used to know so many Cornish words, and I was always so eager to rush to school and impress my friends with them. That was over 20 years ago now though, and my memory can’t recall a single one.
Out of habit, I knock on the round brass knocker and wait for a few minutes. You always used to rush out to greet me; there’d be hugs and smiles before you’d beckon me inside with your hands. Now I’m greeted only by silence, save for the rusty old hinges that groan and squeak as I push the door open. My hands search through the darkness for the light switch, and once I feel the cold rigidity of the plastic casing, I turn the light on. It flickers weakly before meagrely attempting to fill the room with a dim light. I barely recognise this room now. The breezy, cheerful space I remember is long gone. The years of neglect and desertion are evident on every surface, no longer a secret kept by the nooks and crannies of the cob walls. I look around and spot a photo frame on the side table. I walk over to it and brush away the layers of dust with my sleeve. The faded photo of your beaming face may be the brightest thing here. I remove the picture from the frame, gently fold it in half and tuck it inside my coat pocket.
(…to be continued…)
Series – Evanescent
January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)
February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)
March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)
April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)
May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)
June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)
July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)
August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)
September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)
October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)
November: A Life Rekindled – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)
December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)
Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)
Background – Context
Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)
Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: Cornwall, England – Abandoned on Bodmin Moor – Helen Hotson (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed