When I was a child, the house was vacant, accompanied only by one gnarled old enormous catalpa tree which stood about halfway down the hill, though its roots crept along the ground almost to the foundation. The daffodils which grew near the house were scraggly and their blooms sparse and pale, and though my mother said, repeatedly, that she intended to go dig up some of the bulbs and plant them at our house to see if they would do better in better soil, she never could bring herself to go up close enough to the house to actually complete this gardening quest. We boys felt some proprietary terror when we thought of the house and so, even though we didn’t want to go to the house, we felt as if it were our obligation as Allens to explore it.
I can still remember the long, slow walks to the front door, which we often entered on some quest fated to end in shudders. The door was never locked. We had often talked locking the front door and exiting out of the house through the walk-out basement, but we couldn’t bear the what we felt was the certainty of coming back days later to discover that the house was open again.