the twenty-seventh

Number Six Armor Street

 

On a road with red and pink houses that welcomed anyone who passed by with heart-shaped windows and the smell of cherry pie, stood one lonely grey house. Number Six Armor street was grand, and grey, and ghostly. Nobody ever saw the old man who walked the corridors of Number Six all by himself.

The neighborhood comity had tried to make him move out of his house or at least tried and failed to convince him to let them paint it in red and pink, but he had denied them every time they had turned up on his porch with a cherry pie and a bouquet of roses.

He was the eldest resident of this street and the one who persisted. All the other couples and families came and went. They moved in together and left Armor Street in separate cars going in the opposite direction.

All these years, and he was the one who had persisted and resisted.

You see, when he had bought the house, it had been pink indeed. A girl with a bouquet of lilies and hair like strawberries had been holding his hand the first time he had crossed the threshold.

But as the years went by, he had been forced to realize that Armor was not only Cupid with wings and golden hair. The god was also armed to the teeth. Bow and arrow, sharp and precise weaponry. Armor was ready for a battlefield.

And so was the man who had stood his ground in Number Six Armor street for sixty years.

He would not give up the house, not when she had sat on that windowsill reading poetry to him, not when she had burnt the kitchen surface trying to make strawberry pie, and not when it had been her who had picked out this house.

She was gone, and so was the pink façade this house had had when she had breathed color into his life. No more warm madeleines served with his tea, and no more warm Madeleine that drank her berry teas with him. Everything was cold, from the tea to the sheets she had slept in.

A dreadful February sunrise awoke him one particular Sunday morning. Armor street always looked like someone had dropped a bucket of red paint and spilled it all over their little corner of the world. Today, it was bathed in crimson sunlight that filled every crevice and crack in the crumbling bricks of his house it could find. For the first time since Madeleine had decided to leave him and this world, Number Six shone brightly. It appeared the light grey color was a perfect mirror, and it reflected the lovely colors proudly.

The old man shut the blinds quickly. This house had withered away for the last fifty-eight years, had rid itself of its color entirely, and today would not change that in any way.

He descended the stairs into darkness to grab today’s paper. The front page was always ripped into pieces and he would always spend his morning cursing the boy out who stuck his precious paper in between the metal slits of his door with such violence.

No paper today. It was yesterday’s pages he saw instead. He recognized the headlines immediately.

That blasted boy be damned.

The paper slipped into his hands easily, so easily that it could only mean that at least half of it was missing. Dirt spilled from the pages and trickled to the ground bringing some color into his house.

He unfolded the paper slowly. Someone had wrapped a vine in grey pages. Six small perfectly pink leaves in the shape of hearts sprung from the stem. He recognized them of course. Those vines almost swallowed the house on the opposite side of the street.

A note on pink paper informed him that his new neighbor had taken the liberty of gifting him a vine to brighten up his day.

The old man had indeed spied the new resident of number five from Madeleine’s favorite windowsill; an elderly woman with round cheeks and dark grey hair, the only person that lived here by themselves. Not even he did that. He had the shape of Madeleine’s memory to accompany him until the day that he would finally pass on.

For a moment, he let the little plant hover over the bin. Just for a single moment, but he knew that she wouldn’t have liked that. No, she would have found a special spot somewhere outside to give this lonely plant a home.

That thought moved his heart by just a fraction of an inch, but it was enough to move his feet. He planted the vine with the heart-shaped petals right where Madeleine had liked to leave her shape in the dirt beds. She would have liked that little weed.

It would grow soon, and perhaps it would wind its way up the pipes and crawl up the walls. Perhaps it would die as all good things did. It was up to that pink vine. It could devour his house with plant armor, and finally allow his neighbors to leave him be. Those vines could grow strong and pink in spring. 

Pink could grow over the grey and heal the cracks in the structure. As he looked up into the sky to straighten his back, he noticed that the sun had decided to shine its light onto the other side of the street. Number Five was gleaming red, and from a window not unlike Madeleine’s, he saw his new neighbor smile softly. Number Six Armor Street had a chance to shed its armor after all those years of ghostly greyness.

 

Ann Doe studies English, History and Civics as a part of her teacher training in Munich with a year-long detour at the University of Birmingham. She used to write short stories for competitions and remembers first writing a book at the age of five. When she is not writing, she can be found travelling and wandering around museums aimlessly.

© 2021 by Elizabeth Bates. Proudly created with Wix.com

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