The medium latte collapsed, spilling over the table spread with roast beef. It had been a late night, and the celebrants were now sprawled over cushions and using stairs as uncomfortable pillows. The house was a year older, and it creaked its walls and flickered its power for those who would notice.
It had been recently appraised, officially considered an antique. But what was value? Was sugar worth more when melted or spun? What of spun sugar as it melted in the mouths of children? The house wanted children again, had been full of them once. And was once more, until the morning when their parents would take them away and the sunlight and dust would again gather in the celebration room.
Maybe if it could keep some food on hand, they would visit. Maybe even stay if the valuation was optimistic. Last night was only a rehearsal, a play that would never see opening night. The dog barked and the lines were read, and the house trembled in appreciation. Its lead pipes shook and water leaked from their joints in desire.
The sound woke those who had collapsed on the floor, and they woke in fright, unable to breathe until they coughed away the dust of neglect. There would never be people enough, or presence enough, to have clear air after a dog had torn through the space, or to polish the scratches from the hardwood.
But the bodies on its floor. Like a hug from a toddler, slow and unsteady limbs trying to grasp a wall. Was there a strategy that could win? Even if the experiments were low yield, was there a steady pace to occupied rooms? Slow, yes. But unsteady. The house could work late into the night while the celebrants slept, and there might be beer in the fridge.
But not for inhabitants, only for guests. The house needed to brace for that, but could not. The party had stirred parts of it, had placed feet on floorboards that had not felt presence for years. It would renovate itself. Turn its doors red. Remove the nests and webs.
And then become one itself, a funnel spider, collecting similes. Like a coyote luring a threat away from its young, it would offer an open door. A freshly painted, wide-open door. And the unknown longing from within would be irresistible. Like a beckon from the bedroom, people would not only long to enter, they would need to. And like the river that ran behind it, the house would wash away all evidence of entry, would cover its openings, and people would remark on the strange house that had been completely sealed in.
Like a week on a calendar from last year.