Just the House Settling

You lie awake at night, staring up at your dark ceiling making shapes out of the texturing in the paint as if you were staring up at a sky full of clouds, and you hear it.  It’s a faint knock in the wall, probably where one of the support studs are, and you tell yourself “it’s just the house settling.”

You don’t think about where that phrase came from – why would you?  It’s easier to allow yourself to believe the idea that your house is just creaking in its old age under its own weight.  It’s easier to believe that your house, the one which was specifically designed to hold up far more weight than what it does, is just settling under the pressure. 

So, you don’t ask yourself the question.  You don’t think about who told your parents that the house was “just settling,” nor who told them, and so on.  You don’t consider whatsoever the possibility that perhaps that message is no longer what it was meant to say, like a game of telephone, the phrase has been convoluted.

You don’t know, at least not yet, that it’s not the “house settling” but that it’s the “house settlers.”

As you lie there in the dark, you hear it again, but this time it’s in another place of the house.  “Just the house settling” again you tell yourself, instead of thinking “there are now two.”

You’ve woken up from your sleep to find bruises on your legs, but you don’t ask the questions.  It’s easier not to.  You tell yourself you probably ran into a table got hit by something and forgot about it, even though you know you’d remember being struck by anything hard enough to cause a bruise.  You don’t think that “it’s just the house settlers.”

You hear your door creak open.  You hear the padding sounds of feet walk in.  It’s just the dog, you tell yourself.  You don’t even think about it for a second.  You don’t think about seeing your dog, fast asleep in his bed in the corner of the room an hour ago.  You don’t think about how the click of the claws on the hardwood floor seem smaller, thinner than those of your German Shepard.  You don’t think about any of this, until you hear the shallow breathing coming from your nightstand and you turn your head to see the rows of crooked teeth glinting back at you in the moonlight from the window.

It’s only then, in some primal level of your mind that you’ve spent your whole life learning how to suppress, that you know the truth – you’ve always known the truth.  It’s not the house settling.



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