Henry White resides at number 4 Hope Street.
He’s been living here for quite some time – more out of necessity than of choice.
But of choice, none the less.
He has become at home at this address.
It isn’t very fancy. No opulent furnishings. No large rooms. ‘The basics’, would describe it adequately.
The basics without which no one can truly live.
Henry White arrived at number 4 Hope Street, after being forcefully displaced from his previous home.
54 Comfort Towers.
He was happy there.
He had everything he desired.
So he thought.
He was comfortable.
There were no uncertainties.
He knew where the breakfast would be laid out in the morning & where lunch would be served & where dinner would be taken.
He knew his clothes would appear neatly pressed in his cupboards, long sleeve shirts tidily together with the sleeves folded just so.
He knew on retiring for the evening that he would find his bed turned down, a cosy fire’s warmth filling the room, a hot cup of tea on the bed stand.
Today was like yesterday and tomorrow would certainly be like today.
Until one tomorrow.
Henry woke from his usual deep dreamless sleep. The luxurious blankets held him just a moment longer. He lazily stretched. Yawned. Lay back on soft pillows. Not too eager to get up. After all, he knew what this day held.
Eventually Henry rolled out of bed.
Then without haste he ambled to the usual spot where breakfast would be served, as it was the day before & the day before & every other day for as long as Henry could remember.
Henry took his seat.
It was minutes before he realized something was amiss.
The table was empty.
It was not even laid out with fine china & polished silver.
The customary flowers did not adorn as centre piece.
Still, every previous day the breakfast was there. Henry was confident, despite the break in routine, it would be here today as well.
Lunch time came and still no breakfast.
One day the men arrived.
Six of them.
Neatly dressed in yellow overalls.
They started with the lounge & study.
Packed everything in bubble wrap & carried it off to the green van outside.
Then followed the dining room.
Henry White observed dumbstruck.
As the six strong men in yellow overalls loaded the bedroom furniture, Henry realised his time at Comfort Towers had indeed abruptly come to an end.
He walked the empty rooms remembering each exquisite piece of furniture.
The set of wingback chairs with their finely carved feet acquired from the store on the corner of University Drive & Profession Street.
The large mahogany roll top desk with its large drawers and comfortable height his father gave him.
The windows were curtainless.
The rich wooden floors naked, each hand-woven carpet rolled up & carried away.
Henry White lingered in room after room.
As he lingered he reached for smells and sounds.
There was nothing.
Nothing he could grab hold of to take with him.
He pulled the heavy front door closed behind him and aimlessly walked down the deserted street.
He was hungry.
He had not had breakfast in days.
Had he known that morning it would be his last breakfast, he might have had some extra.
But you don’t know.
He was tired.
The past days his bed was not turned down & no fire crackled in his room.
Sleep had been illusive, his mind racing to make sense of what was happening to him.
Hungry & tired Henry White had no idea whereto from here.
He walked for days.
He ended at number 6 Despondency Cressent for a while.
A sad place.
Even emptier than 54 Comfort Towers after the six men in yellow overalls loaded everything in their green van.
There Henry White found a corner where he could lie down.
Cold and weary he curled into the smallest huddle he could muster and wept himself to sleep.
For as long as he remained at number 6 Despondency Cressent Henry White did not get up from his little corner, nor did he unfold from his bundle.
He screamed in anguish.
He shed silent tears.
Stuttering meaningless words of hopelessness between great heaves of sadness.
It was good for Henry White to visit this place.
He had suffered a loss.
To him an immeasurable loss.
One far greater than he knew existed.
He did not know that he was merely a visitor at number 6 Despondency Cressent.
He thought this was it.
His new residence.
How long he stayed at this sad and lonely place he cannot recall.
At this place days are not articulated.
They blur into an indescernable blob, the only desire at all alive, the silent cry that death may come to fetch you without too much a do.
One morning Henry White awoke at number 6 Despondency Cressent, the tears on his face only damp. The cry from his gut ever so slightly quieted.
He noticed the sun playing through the window, its rays touching Henry’s shoulder as if to encourage him.
Slowly Henry White unfolded from the fetal bundle which he had become.
His arms were numb.
There, in that spot, Henry White rolled onto his back.
Paralyzed arms and legs limply lying beside him, his only company.
Staring at the ceiling.
Dirty brown stains reaching downward along the wall.
He closed his eyes.
In his mind he looked backwards.
To life as it had been.
To life as it will be.
In his mind he looked forward.
He flexed his hands.
He felt his legs.
This place is no place to live.
With measured steps Henry White found his way outside.
This time he knew where to go.
He’d seen the stenciled golden letters on the clear window pane, framed by the dark wooden door on the red brick building.
He found it.
But he found it.
The door was unlocked.
He went inside.
In the kitchen cupboard he discovered a piece of resilience & some tenacity.
He did not even bother to cook it.
It filled him.
He ate some more.
He hadn’t eaten in too long.
In the bathroom he found a towel & soap. The tap held hot water. He washed. He washed every part of his body, the water baptizing him into this new place.
Henry White took his time.
He walked the rooms of number 4 Hope Street as he once walked the empty rooms of number 54 Comfort Towers.
In a drawer he discovered some perspective.
On a table some distance.
He looked but could not find certainty.
Nor anything definite.
He did find trust.
That what was, was good for then and what will be, will see to itself and what is, is now.
The unpredictability of number 4 Hope Street still gets to Henry White from time to time.
You never know what the day will hold.
You never know where the corridor will lead.
But it is here in this place that Henry White found healing as well.
Scattered all over the place.
Carelessly pushed into a shelf on top of a row of books.
Or bundled into a drawer with pliers and a piece of truth.
Neatly folded, in the bathroom, under the third towel.
And then some more in the little white cupboard beneath the sink.
This became Henry White’s food and water at number 4 Hope Street.
A place where you do not hope for life to be restored to what it was.
A place where you hope for life to be restored to what it was always intended to be.
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