Week Nineteen Prompt: Et tu, Brute?

The House that You (and Jack) Built

I stare up at your house; your beautiful, ridiculous house. I remember when you came to me, eyes shining and cheeks flushed -“We got the land!” and it had been my flippant idea to make a house out of cards. You had stared at me, and I had no idea what I had done until it was done. Cards, paper, strawbale, mudbrick, rammed earth – anything you could get your hands on, you did. You had me over to colour consult; there were taps and light fittings and trips to the tip for "inspiration". Jack would roll his eyes at me behind your head, a private joke, but you went ahead and you made it. You built a life there, a green, vegan, recycled life, you and Jack, Jack and you – it was the house that you and Jack built.

I had thought it would be raining. It’s the kind of thing you expect, for it to be raining when you tear the world apart, but it's Spring and there are birds and a light wind blows my dress against my knees. If I tilt my head to the side and squint, I think I can see your house swaying in the breeze. All it would take is a chip in the right place; a chip that, funnily enough, I'm here to provide. I know what I’m getting into, by doing this. I can hear the things you’ll say in my mind and I know the look you’ll give me. But I want you to hear me. I want you to hear why.

I want you to know that I would never hurt you, except that I did, worse than any friend could hurt any friend, worse than your worst enemy could. I wish I could say I didn’t mean for it to happen, like all those girls in movies do, but I don’t. I was sick of it, sick of your everything and my nothing when for all our lives it was the other way around. You had the problems, I had the answers. But then you went and got your own answers, and I got left behind, so I took yours. I took Jack, that night we went to dinner together but you went home early because you were sick, and there had been a look, and then it was a touch, and then it was me and Jack, Jack and me, and now I’m standing here at your front door working up the guts to ruin your life.

I didn’t mean for Jack to fall in love with me. I didn’t mean to fall in love with Jack. I didn’t mean for it to be anything more than a restoration of the balance of power between friends – between you and me, me and you. Sometimes we would lie in your bed, Jack and me, me and Jack, and suddenly it was my house, my husband, my bamboo cotton sheets we were lying on. Everything Jack and I were and are and can be is built on lies, but when I lie there with him, head on his chest, heartbeat to heartbeat, the world beats away.  The space between us, normally occupied by the memory of you, becomes space no one can touch.

I want you to know that I know you don’t want to hear this; that I know this will make you sick and that I know I’m the person you don’t want to know. I wish this hadn’t happened, except that I don't. I wish Jack didn’t love me, except that I don't. I wish I could tell Jack it’s over between us, maybe even slam a righteous door in his face, except that I don't.  I wish I was the sort of person who had the guts to say this to your face, instead of to your cardboard door. 

But I’m not. Instead, I’m going to knock on your door, and you are going to answer it. You will smile at me, and I will tell you I just dropped by for a visit. You will make us tea. I will pretend that I still have the right to call myself your friend; that there is no Jack and me, me and Jack. I will sit there with you and I will know that when you find out, when your house of cards clatters to the ground around you, you will remember this day, this warm Spring day with the birds and the breeze that blew my dress around my legs; you will remember the look in my eyes and my uncertain smile, and you will hate me more than I hate myself.

I raise my hand to knock on the door of the house that you and Jack built, and I can hear you moving around inside. There is a moment before you answer, a moment when the wind stirs my hair around my face, a moment when I speak to the air before me, words falling to the steps below me, words that tell you, before I see you, I’m sorry.

 would like to make it clear that this is a work of fiction inspired by this week's topic and by a play her sister was in recently, 'All's golden square in love and war'.

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15 thoughts on “Week Nineteen Prompt: Et tu, Brute?

  1. I like the note at the bottom best though the story was extremely well done. You wanted us to know you are no home wrecker…like any of us would think you would–wait I forgot about the trolls this year so this was probably a good idea(-:

    I loved you words.

  2. You’ve done it again! This is beautiful, just like last week’s entry.

    I see a lot of my own writing style in it actually, with the rhythm and the repetition and the patterns.

    I like it because this week’s topic has brought up my own personal IRL friend who betrayed me (although certainly not as bad as in this story) and this was like a look into his mind, maybe a way to understand his motivations. It definitely was the first relationship I’ve ever been in that felt like a power struggle.

    Thank you.

  3. I really like the way you used the “house of cards” phrase here to not only talk about the real house, the house he was betrayed in, but also the house of cards of the relationship which will soon come crashing down all around him. Very creative and well written.

    Dan

  4. Great language, especially the opening, and great use of the overarching metaphor. There’s a couple places it feels like maybe it could be tighter, but that’s always a delicate balance with stream of consciousness. I wonder if the narrator needs a more solid emotional drive? Right now she wants to not be to blame, to not be hated, but what does she want (that is an active desire to have rather than not have) bad enough to show up and wreck someone else’s life? It’s assumed she wants to be with Jack, but she doesn’t actually say/imply what she wants and why she’s here – maybe that would give it more drive? The lyrical language is terrific, and there’s a great dreamy quality here, verging on magical realism, that’s just wonderful!

  5. Lovely story– whirlwind phrasing, plotting, and then the emotions that swirl around (the “shoulds” vs. the “actual”, the regrets vs. the result).

    Everything Jack and I were and are and can be is built on lies, but when I lie there with him, head on his chest, heartbeat to heartbeat, the world beats away. The space between us, normally occupied by the memory of you, becomes space no one can touch.

    Wonderful phrasing. I’m really loving your stories as of late!

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