Too hot now, I threw the blankets off and turned over in my sleep. And then I felt a smile touch the corners of my lips and drifting again, I remembered and felt the same warmth in my house; in my cozy kitchen with the round oak table and chairs by the bay windows. The pot of stew simmering on the stove, awaiting my husbands arrival from work for our supper.
I took a deep breath in my sleep and relished the zesty aroma. And oh that house! Even now in my dream I could see it standing proudly atop the hill. I'd met an married a hard working man and the time spread before me in a panaramic flow of our happy years of being together and fixing it up. It was a lovely seventy-five year old mansion standing in a valley surrounded by rolling hills. Later a housing development came in but back then we were gloriously alone in all the beauty.
Our house was a two story colonial with a veranda that ran along three sides of the building with colums set along the edges. It had been in foreclosure for back taxes and had been standing abandoned for years. The minute I saw the place and walked in, I had felt the warmth amongst the faded walls and creaking floors. This was what I wanted, I felt safe there.
Several years went by as we tore down, refinished, painted and gradually made that place into a beauty. Our bodies ached, our hands bled, but finally it was done and our palatial house stood fininshed in all its glory.
I felt a moan escape my lips as I continued to dream. Then I remembered the dreaded words we heard from the doctor when he had said "its cancer"! And then the inevitable silence in that house later when I was alone that never went away. I felt a tremer shake my body and I hugged the pillow now. For some time I had been seeing small piles of sawdust around the house, strange but not anything I took seriously. There would be some on top of a dresser in an upstairs bedroom, or, downstairs on the kitchen counter and this went on mysteriously for several months.
This seems to be falling out of the ceiling, I swore one day as I was cleaning house.
What the hell is it? I muttered. And I painstakenly checked the house over carefully and dam if I didn't find cracks appearing in all the ceilings in most of the rooms.
What the hell was going on up there in the attic? Gathering all my nerve I went into the upstairs hallway and took down the pull-down ladder. I'd never been up there, never wanted to, but now I didn't have a choice! I remembered my knees shaking as I climbed up grasping the steps and then finally I was eye-level with the attic floor.
My God it was scary in the gloomy cavern; spider webs hung like glistening patterns of lace from the rafters, settling into the mounds of gray insulation. And as I stood hanging onto the ladder for dear life something crawled over my hand. I jerked away and as I did I moved some of the insulation on the attic floor, and then I saw them. Huge black carpenter ants embedded in the boards, busily eating away on my house.
Horrified, I didn't remember climbing down, but, I do recall later the exterminator had shook his head and jokingly remarked, "Lady you better burn this joint!"
And then, I awoke and sat up.