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I have been writing about speed-writing, and also about writing a lot of crap.

Last week, I gave myself a writing prompt of 5 words: abandoned, nurture, trimming,  silently, cupboards, and clocked ten minutes on the countdown timer on my cellphone. Now that I go back to it after a few days, I don’t hate it so much, so I thought I will post it here:

Writing about an abandoned house

Writing about an abandoned house

They have grown silently around the abandoned house, those creepers, those creatures of nature and of stealth. They have piled in through the broken basement windows, they have grown over the cracks on the steps, they have climbed the steps to the forgotten bedrooms. They will not leave the house well enough alone because man makes homes, but Nature nurtures graves.

The house has stood here silently on the mound under the dripping rain, the blazing sun, and you have seen it change its face. It has grown old with you, like you: you, whose nails need trimming, whose clothes need mending, whose table needs cleaning, whose utensils need washing. And so is the house with its wild lawns, its rusty banisters, cobwebbed chandeliers, broken gates, and nesting sparrows.

You and the house have grown old together, silently and alone, like old friends. Those who left you in hate, left the house at the same time, but you do not wait for them, and the house does not, either. You await death and the house waits for demolition, and meanwhile it is a rambling old place where a boy or two can find adventure, where a homeless man can find shelter from the rain.

But you do not welcome the boy or the homeless man, you wander like a ghost in the house, and keep out the real ghosts who do not want to step into this wanton seclusion, this morbid togetherness. The shadows of the house cling to you when you take out your aged car, it waits patiently for you to return, because it knows you will.

It is alive, dying, and pulling you in with it  all the time into its corridors of no sunlight and stale air, into its musty cupboards with doors thrown ajar, its old kitchen with the burst oven, its leaky roof, its dark cellars and its noisy chimney on stormy nights. Even the fireplace throws out more shadows than light.

The house has its eyes, it has its nose and teeth, and all work together to keep you in and others out. Don’t you see its arms holding you back, pulling you inexorably in, in, in, in, always in—no light for you, no life, and that is the way the house wants it. I know you want it the same way too, but today I stand here, calling to you. Won’t you listen, just this once? Or will you pick up my call, fold it over and toss into the bin across your bed?

You have to decide, because this will be the only call that will ever come, the call from me to you.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • indigobunting says:

    First, wow. That blows me away. Gorgeous, compelling…

    And this made me laugh: “I don’t hate it so much.” Sometimes it takes a lot for a writer to get there!

    Thanks, Indigo. Your comment means a lot, I am sure it is not easy to blow you away, so I guess it wasn’t thaaat bad:)

    I hated it again the minute I had finished posting it. I almost hit the delete button, and then said, what the heck, I took time to post this, let it remain. At the worst, people will know what a fool I am, but I guess they already know that from reading the rest of the blog lol…

  • Nice images. Like the one about the fire throwing more shadow than light.

    Thanks Annie, I think it is all a series of images that came to my head and I wrote them on paper. I am not sure who the “you” or the “I ” are.

  • DarcKnyt says:

    I like it. I like the feel of it.

    In ten minutes? I might just try this exercise.


    Thanks, Darc, I am glad you like it. Ten minutes, yes.Of course I corrected the spellings and added punctuation and all. You might like to try the exercise like you said, cos you never know what comes out!

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