The house had tried to warn them, to groan in its boughs and eaves, that something was wrong. It tried to wake them from their well-loved beds before gas and ash snaked into them and they never moved again. It wanted them safe, away from the burning that ate away at its walls.
They hadn’t been its first, but they had been its best. The house was not old, surely, when they had arrived, but it was worn and thin with disrepair. As much as it tried to stand tall, to present a bright face to those outside, it could feel itself made flaking and brittle by time and its inhabitants’ lack of care. Then these people came.
It watched the fresh pair fuse together with joy, just as they repainted and repaired it so it could look bright and young. They made additions to their own family, just as they extended the house so it could wrap itself better around them. When they nearly seemed that they would come unglued, they built themselves up even stronger than before, just as they propped it up with new and young pieces so it could stand with them through time. These were not a people for the house. These were finally its family.
But their life together, it seemed quickly and severely, had come to an end. The cable that had nourished and warmed its family for so long was not strong enough to fight the house’s eternal enemy, the storm, and so it snapped, striking the house with sparks and bite. As the flames licked across photographs of its people, the house wanted to tell them this wasn’t its fault, that it tried to protect them as it always had. The house worried it might never know if they understood.
But understanding means little without life to enjoy it, so the house screamed at them to leave. It nearly wept to see its family run from its embrace. But its face was the last to fall, so it was able to watch them waiting outside till the end. They cried, but they would stand.
The house died, but its family lived. And it was happy.