The House

maroon brick surface

A white man looked out his window and saw a black woman in her yard, pulling her house apart. He noticed her doing this every day, sometimes just a single brick took all afternoon. She was using a spoon.

He couldn’t stay away for very long.

“Why are you destroying your house?” the white man asked.

“My daughter is having nightmares,” the black woman answered.

“Seems a little extreme, don’t you think?” He kicked at the pile of bricks, hands in his pockets.

“I’ve tried everything else.”

“Are you sure?” He meant well. He meant to be helpful. “What are you going to do once it’s gone? How are you going to rebuild it? What if it doesn’t stay together?”

The woman, still crouched, put down her spoon and brushed the mortar from the tops of her shoes. She stood up, wiping her brow with her forearm.

She was shorter than he but spoke with a confidence he’d never seen before.

“We’ve tried therapists, spiritualists, interior designers, new wallpaper, we rearranged the furniture, we’ve read books, tried hypnosis, changed our diet, fasted, knocked down walls and put them back up. I’ve brought in experts, stayed up with her, slept beside her, loved her with all the love I have, emptied myself to fill her up. There’s nothing left to do.”

She got back into her crouch, picked up her spoon, and spoke into the wall. “Sometimes you know what’s right because what you’ve seen your whole life is wrong.”

He looked up at the 3-story house. Thousands of bricks, beautiful craftsmanship, such great architecture. He felt bad for her.

“But you’re never going to finish,” he pointed out.

She stopped, looked back over her shoulder. The sun blazed from behind the man making him almost invisible to her. She looked at his concerned face, then to his empty hands, his immaculate shoes.

“I don’t care if I finish,” she said. “The nightmares are already starting to go away.”