The House Of Dreams An Extremely Short Story by Ismael Ascencion Ruiz
The man in the plain brown suit stood in front of the house of dreams and smiled. It was a sad smile but there was joy in it nonetheless. His eyes gazed upon the house, marveling at its faded yellow paint that was peeling in bunches and its dirty windows. It was a plain ranch style house with a garage jutting from its left side like an overgrown limb and a small patio area. Not a patio mind you, just a patio area. Just enough room to sit on a hot day but not enough for a rocking chair or swing. The front door was a dirty white color and covered with stains and flanked on either side with windows. The windows to the left of the door were large and square while the windows to the right were on the smallish side and looked like a rectangle standing up. The man, Robert to his co workers and Bobby to his friends, studied the house and knew that the bigger window was the living room window. Dark curtains blocked his line of sight into it but he had no doubt. The smaller window belonged to the kitchen area. Again Robert was sure of that. All these tract homes were alike. But that didn't matter to Robert. Robert knew there was more to a home than that. Next to the house of dreams stood a number of nearly identical houses. One was blue with white piping, the other blue with dark blue piping and further on down white with red piping. At least ten or so houses just like this, only with small differences, like the paint and the side of the house the garage was on. To Robert though this house was unique. This house was the one. He laid a hand on a wood post planted in the front yard that recently held a for sale sign and gazed at the house. The lights of the living room turned on and the curtains were opened wide. A very pretty dark haired woman stood looking out the window, perhaps admiring the day. She fumbled with the window latch for a second and then opened the window wide letting the air in. At the sight of the very pretty woman Robert's smile became even sadder but still he didn't move. The very pretty woman stood for a second, hands on her slim hips, before turning away from the window and fading from existence like a ghost. In the kitchen lights were being turned on and the curtains to this window were now being
opened up and the very pretty woman was once again opening the window. This time the smell of frying chicken and boiling beans wafted from the opened window and Robert took a few steps closer to savor the scent. The very pretty woman didn't seem to mind. As she cooked over an older white stove she was swarmed by two hyper children. The children were young and only a few years apart. The boy was the younger, appearing to be about six years old and his face was scrunched up in an adorable frown, his cheeks red and his brow furrowed with a childâ€™s fury. The older child was obviously his sister and she wore a look of stubbornness on her face. The very pretty woman, who was also a very pretty mother now, smiled down at the two and spoke in a soft voice that Robert couldn't quite hear. Whatever she said the boy calmed down and smiled and the girl protested loudly before reaching into her pocket and handing over some candy to the boy. The girl stomped away upset while the boy wandered into the dining area of the kitchen. Wanting to get a better look, Robert walked through the yard and right up to the kitchen window. Inside the kitchen was longer than it was wide. On the far end of the kitchen a round mahogany colored table stood surrounded by five chairs the same shade of cheap brown. The little boy sat on one of the chairs eagerly sucking on his newly given candy. Overlooking the table was a framed poster of the Last Supper. The floor was faded linoleum but was spotless and the fridge was a plain white. The very pretty woman was leaning into the fridge at the moment, searching for a pack of tortillas. Robert studied her for a moment longer, marveling at her grace as she set about the kitchen preparing dinner, before walking over to the living room window and peering in there. The living room was on the small side but looking at it made Robert's smile sweeter. Although the family living here was obviously not well to do the living room had a comfortable feel to it. A large television sat on a small table in the center of the wall to the left of Robert while a love seat sat directly across from it. On the wall across from Robert was the couch. A small round coffee table sat in the middle of it all. Lounging on the couch was a teenage girl. In her lap was a notebook which she wrote in
periodically and the remote to the TV. The teenage girl was lovely with the same dark hair as her mother and large brown eyes. She chewed on the end of her pencil and looked down at her notebook. An electronic jingle filled the air and the lovely teenage girl quickly reached into her jeans pocket and withdrew a pink cellphone. â€œHey Mark! What's upâ€? The lovely teenager said and Robert knew immediately that she had a thing going with this Mark fellow. The lovely teenager smile slowly faded as she held the phone to her ear. Frowning, she stood up and walked down a hallway and disappeared from Roberts view. Wondering what had upset the lovely teenager Robert tried the front door and found it unlocked. Without a moments hesitation Robert was opening the door and entering the house of dreams. The smell of ground beef cooking on the stove top filled the house and made Roberts stomach grumble. It occurred to Robert that he hadn't ate before stopping here but he pushed the thought aside. Robert strode into the hallway, not trying to be quiet and saw that the hallway was lined with many photos. A good many of the photos were of the children he had seen but also taking up a lot of space were photos of the very pretty woman and her husband. The husbands face was blurred to Roberts eyes though and he quickly passed over him in favor of the other smiling faces. Christmas photos and birthday parties and smiling faces lit up the hallway and Robert studied the pictures solemnly feeling deep pangs in his soul as he did so. A tear slid down his cheek unnoticed and Robert turned away from the photos. His small sad smile though did not fade away. He shook his head gently as if arguing with himself and forced his smile to be a little bigger, a little less sad. Shrugging his shoulders as if to shake off a great weight Robert surveyed the hallway and counted the doors. Five doors lined the hallway, two on each side and one at the end. The first door to the right was slightly ajar and Robert peered in. The room was painted a bright blue and had toys scattered all over the floor. A television with cartoon characters dancing on its screen sat atop a tall dresser and posters of comic book characters and sports figures adorned the walls. This was obviously
the room of the young children. Robert glanced a second longer wondering where the children were before advancing down the hall. Probably out running a muck Robert thought and his sad smile brightened just a bit. The next door up was to his left and was wide open. It was a brightly painted restroom. It was accessorized with a yellow rubber ducky motif. The shower curtain was blue with bright yellow duckies sprinkled throughout it and the tooth brush holder was shaped like a little yellow duck. A small green step stool was next to the toilet and atop it was a potty training seat. Robert ventured deeper into the hallway and stopped between the last two doors and directly in front of the door at the end of the hall. That door was narrower and Robert guessed it was some kind of closet and decided to ignore it. The door to the right was shut tight but Robert could hear the sounds of muffled arguments coming through it. Robert laid a hand on the door and closed his eyes. Oh the pain of being young and dealing with heartbreak Robert thought and felt his heart reach out for the lovely teenager. For a second Robert felt like opening the door and comforting the lovely teenager but then thought better of it. Better to let her handle it herself. Robert turned from the lovely teenagers door and to the last door of the hallway. This door was slightly ajar also and Robert pushed it open and walked in. This room was larger than the rest, the master bedroom, and had a queen sized bed occupying most of its space. A dark dresser with a large mirror stood opposite the bed and a large window overlooked the back yard. Robert sat on the edge of the bed and studied the top of the dresser. It was littered with photo frames, hair products, makeup and other knick knacks. A nightstand stood next to the bed and had a large frame photo. Robert grabbed the photo frame and studied the picture within it. It was a picture of the very pretty woman on her wedding day. Her dress was a luxurious white and the very pretty woman was glowing with happiness. The husband stood tall next to her but again his features were blurred to Robert. The man's face began to clear but Robert shook his head violently as if to dispel the knowledge that laid within. Setting the picture down gently Robert walked through the house of dreams once more.
His eyes saw the memories of many happy times and his ears were filled with the kids laughter and the melodic sound of the very pretty womanâ€™s voice. Robert saw the children playing in the yard and then growing up into young adults and dealing with bullies, science projects and heartbreak and he felt the sharp pang of love and loss when they moved on to college. Robert saw the very pretty woman age into a very old woman and ached to hold her and love her. Robert saw himself dancing with her in the very early stages of marriage in the living room and falling onto the couch together out of breath and laughing merrily. That last one caused Roberts heart to fill with sadness and Robert squeezed his eyes shut tight for several seconds. When Robert finally opened his eyes he found himself once again standing outside of his house of dreams. The wind gusted around him and a newspaper clipping flew from his hands. Robert did not try to retrieve the clipping. He knew the article word for word and no matter how the wind blew it, the clipping would be with him forever. Rollover on Freeway. Woman and Children Slain, Man in Critical Condition read the headline. The accompanying photo was the same as the one Robert had found on the nightstand in the house of dreams. Robert pushed the thought away. Another tear slid down his cheek unnoticed but the man in the plain brown suit's sad little smile remained.