At night, the walls of the hallway were bathed in an intense blood red. They brightened and darkened like a giant bleeding heart. It’s why I hated being alone in the house.
The colour pulsed from the end bedroom, from a night light my sister insisted I kept for when my nephew visited. She claimed that the deeper colours helped him sleep, that red in particular instilled subconscious feelings of relaxation and warmth, and that its fading in and out stimulated better breathing.
Not for me. The light wasn’t as obvious during the day, so sometimes it accidentally remained on after he left, only for me to be greeted by a hallway full of blood at night. At 25, I should be more mature than to be afraid of what lurked in the dark. But I didn’t make a habit to leave lights on in unused rooms, so it was common for that entire part of the house to be bathed in the disturbing colour come nightfall. When I told my sister that the light’s rhythmic fade reminded me of an actual beating organ, she told me to imagine it as “the heart of the house, keeping everything moving” — I told her that I had read Shirley Jackson, and that analogy did nothing to soothe me. The house itself being planted in the middle of an isolated, sprawling vineyard ages away from town also didn’t calm my fears.
Sometimes when the sky was its blackest, I could do nothing but stand still in the hall, fixated on that beating red light. One thing people didn’t realise about the quiet of the country is that it actually made everything louder: the scratch of branches on a window grew to knives on a chalkboard, the distant barks and grunts of neighbouring animals pierce the silence, and a passing car on the main road sounded like a convoy coming down my own driveway, ready to catch me alone. But the rare times when all those noises were absent, I swore I could hear the light pulsing. Somewhere between the hum of a machine and the steady breath of a waiting stranger. It could very well have just been my heartbeat echoing in my skull, and the rational part of me reasoned that it was.
But when one is alone, when one is enveloped in the eye of their own storm, rationality is not considered. The darkest, most primal fears stalk their way in, thoughts you assumed you’d left behind with silly playground games. Fears of the unseen, of the unknown, lurking in the darkest corners. The adult in you reasoned that they waited in the corners of your mind, not your bedroom. But all the same, your breath catches, your muscles freeze and your stature shrinks. Tip-toeing down the hallway at night sometimes felt like entering a forbidden lair.
I couldn’t explain it, but that night felt like no other nights before. The air seemed colder, the house seemed stiller, and the glowing light looked almost a deeper shade of red than usual. Keeping my shaky breath in stead, I walked to the end bedroom. It was like a small box, no bigger than most people’s bathrooms. Once home to our under-furnished guest room, it now housed my nephew’s toy box, a svelte armchair for storybook time, and his small race car bed. And atop the bedside table in the far corner of the room was the blaring red night light.
I looked at it for a moment like a small animal staring down a predator, wondering how my nephew could possibly find it comforting in any way, when I was distracted by something. I glanced out the window to see rows and rows of vines, an identical view out of most other windows of the house. But beyond their dark shape lit only by the waxing moon, I observed a small, white flash. A quick bang of white, no longer than a second. It looked to have come from the neighbour’s distant homestead, which was easily a kilometre away. But it stood out easily against the bleak darkness of the country.
Thinking it was likely nothing more than the neighbour clamouring with a torch or the flashing headlights of a passing truck, I steeled myself and switched the night light off. The subsequent darkness in the room became suddenly soothing as I inhaled, composed myself, and stared once again out the window. The light of the back porch
Charlotte stood at the sink with me, passing the mugs and plates as I dried them. Mason busied around the adjoining lounge room and packed his strewn toys and snacks into his bag.
“So he thinks if he gets into the next reserves, he might be able to play for the team over there. But he’ll have to move his coaching position, unless they, like, really need him back here,” Charlotte continued. I’d lost track of the trajectory of the conversation — somehow we’d moved on to her husband, Mitch, and his future with the local football club. I could recite the most complicated affairs of international politics, but to save my life, I couldn’t tell you how the local footy and netball clubs worked out their issues. I replied with the most non-committal of “wow’s” and “oh okay’s”, but truth be told, I was just happy to be having a conversation.
I think Charlotte could tell I was getting bored of the topic. She was more intuitive than she gave herself credit for. “So, how are the vines going?” she asked meekly.
“Oh, yeah, they’re going good. Good that we’re in spring at the moment — the leaves grow bigger and give the grapes more shade, so they don’t dry out as quickly. I had the winery guy out here last week, before you got here. He’s pretty happy with how they’re going.”
She smiled. “Good. That’s … that’s really good.” There was a pregnant pause before she asked, “Is he okay with the project taking … longer?”
I sighed. “Well, he’s as patient as he can be. It was supposed to take six months originally, after all.”
“And … how long has it been now?”
I sighed again, deeper. “Two years.”
The vines project that she was referring to was the very reason I was out here in the first place. Mum and Dad had passed away two years ago. I was living in the city at the time, deeply bogged down with my politics course. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with a degree in it, but I found it endlessly interesting. If I’d had more clear direction, maybe it would have made the fact that I missed their deaths a lot less heart-wrenching. Maybe I wouldn’t feel that hot stabbing in my chest every time I passed our old family photos in this empty, cold house. We lived on this vineyard growing up and they picked and processed the grapes themselves and sold to a local winery, with us living off more than a fair share of the profits for almost a quarter of a century. I guess that was the charming thing about small-town life — ‘looking out for each other’. The winery they sold to didn’t care about huge profits as they did their family-centric values. “Geoff and Jodie Reese are reliable, good people”, he assessed our parents.
Still, contracts were signed and deals had to be upheld. Our vineyard had a large order to fill with the winery right before our parents died, and while they were as sympathetic as they could be to our situation, the contracts were tight. We were basically told to fill the final order or the winery would lay claim to its estimated value — which we could only have raised by selling the farm entirely. Our family home.
We couldn’t do it. We couldn’t give away the only remaining connection in this world to the two people who loved us, cared for us and raised us. Especially when it seemed like no one else would. But Charlotte was busy with her burgeoning family, and my parents, finding a fairly cushy arrangement with said winery, didn’t care to tend much to business matters after that, which meant they’d neglected to assign a caretaker for it.
So it fell to me. I didn’t have long to think about it then, but I decided to pull myself out of university, leave the life I’d built in the city behind, and come back to live at the farm to try to fill the order myself. I didn’t know the first damn thing about vineyards or grapes; even growing up here, I spent most of my time inside studying or reading. I was a ‘country boy’, for sure, but I was not an ‘outdoors person’. All I knew was that, as much as I’d tried to ‘make my own life’ in the city, I couldn’t let this place disappear into the ether.
The winery offered a negotiation: they would define the deadline for the order as ‘flexible’, which was originally set at roughly six months after the ‘extenuating circumstances’ — corporate speak for when one of their chief suppliers dies, I suppose. I eventually became overwhelmed with the enormity of the task, so it ended up taking longer. Eighteen months longer, to be exact.
Charlotte gave me a polite, thin-lipped smile. “Mitch might be able to come over tomorrow?”
Mitch a lovely guy, very salt-of-the-earth. Local hero down at the footy club. Beloved by pretty much everyone. Which was great, but he and I had woefully little in common. It wasn’t his fault, but making conversation with him always felt like that last little sluggish push at the end of a marathon.
This time, I tried to hide my sighing. “Yeah, that’d be good,” I said. I was not in a position to say no to help; the bi-monthly visits from the winery rep had slowly increased to weekly ‘informal check-ins’. I was always able to fabricate progress and say the right things to keep the wolves from the door — the one skill that that politics half-degree had given me — but I knew it wasn’t long before they’d catch me out.
With the last wet plate planted in front of me, she whipped off the soapy wet dishwashing gloves. “Okay, Mason, you ready?”
“Yup!” he squeaked, marching into the kitchen with his bag dutifully strapped to his back and his yellow cap on, heeding his mother’s warning about today’s glaring sun. It was one size too big and fell over his eyelids, giving him an irresistibly adorable stature. I bought him that hat, actually, and I did not apologise for the comical effect it produced.
“Alright, we better head off,” Charlotte sighed, pecking me on the cheek. “Gotta go get some more clothes for kinder, don’t we, mate?”
“Yup! Bye, Uncle Leigh!” he said as I lent down on my knees and gave him a warm, encompassing embrace. These days, they tended to last longer and I tended to squeeze tighter.
“Bye, bubba! See you again next week?”
I felt him nod against my shoulder.
I walked them out of the kitchen, through the lush back garden and into the long, dusty driveway. In one direction, at least a quarter of a kilometre away, was the front gate; at the other end, towards the rear of the expansive property, was twenty rows of vines and our back dam beyond that. That was only one section of vines, of course; that was home to the chardonnay grapes, while another hundred rows ran parallel to the long driveway on either side. And dropped in the middle of this wide acreage was our comparatively small, almost cottage-esque house. I always said it was too tiny, even offensively, for such a large property.
Charlotte piled Mason into his seat of her family-sized sedan, with his bag at his feet — always at his feet — and waved as she climbed in. Even though it was just her, Mitch and Mason, I knew she eventually wanted a bigger family, so she figured driving around a bigger car than she needed would be an effective motivator. The dust kicked up in the driveway behind her as she drove out the front gate and out of sight.
I took a moment, hands on my hips, and gazed around at the vineyard. Not looking for anything in particular; just looking. It truly was a magnificent, picturesque property. I used to tell Mum and Dad to get one of those stock image photographers out here one day, that they could make a hefty sum by just letting someone see our beautiful place every time they googled ‘vines’ or ‘rolling hills’. Hell, maybe I still could. It might put a minor dent in the money I was going to owe the winery reps, because the order sure as hell wasn’t going to be filled, the rate I was going.
But the sheer size and majesty of the place stirred another feeling. Complete and terrible loneliness.
I tried not to think on this too much, but seeing the beautiful orange and pink evening skies routinely reminded me of the life I’d left behind. After telling my friends and my partner I would only be gone for six months, ‘maybe even less’, they lost patience waiting after two years. I held almost no connection to that new life, only being forcefully pulled back into my old one, one I never really connected with in the first place. I never made friends with the ‘boys’ boys’ around here when I was a teenager, and now that I’d seen life over the rainbow, I certainly wasn’t going to join them ‘for a cold one down the pub’. The only visitors I ever entertained here were Charlotte and Mason once a week, and occasionally Mitch. I adored Mason, I loved Charlotte, and I enjoyed Mitch, but the isolation I felt out here most days was palpable. Crippling. Abhorrent.
I headed back inside and put the last drying mug away, the clink of its porcelain echoing throughout the dreadfully empty house.
Between the morning sun beaming down the back of my neck and the gentle breeze flowing through the leaves, it was a green, pleasant day among the vines. I had stationed myself under a particularly heady bushel of grapes; sometimes the branches twisted around the metal and ended up congregating in one big knot together. This made my job easier, as I could sit for a while and not have to constantly hold my bucket and move bow-legged along the vines; not great for the grapes themselves though, as it restricted the moisture and sunlight each one got growing so close together.
I sat cross-legged on the grass and pulled the knot of leaves and grapes down into my wooden bucket, clad in grape-stained denim overalls and a wide-brimmed akubra to beat the spring sun. I told Charlotte I was glad no one could see me in my “shitty Huckleberry Finn cosplay”, but I’m not sure she got it. The red-and-black pruning shears in my hand was the type one had to squeeze hard to cut each branch, no matter how thick or thin. I would sometimes cut up to one-hundred vines an afternoon, so I slogged back to the house with a cramping pain in my right hand almost every night. It sometimes made certain other activities I would do later those nights not worth it.
On one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed this time. I would typically spend four or five hours each day out here, trying to cover a different row each time. Sometimes I forgot which area I’d already covered the day prior and accidentally mix the different grapes together; there was nothing I could do those days except throw the whole bucket out and start again tomorrow. But being out amongst the vines, whether the grass was soft and sweet in spring or dry and dusty in summer, was bliss. There was usually a soft breeze licking against the swatch patch on my back, and the only sounds were the gentle twittering of the birds circling above or the wind swaying the trees. No one to speak to meant I was left alone, endlessly, with my thoughts.
Sometimes my mind was a playground - other times, it was a dark cavern of twisted thorns and barbed wire. But whatever form it wore, that’s where I was stuck to play for the day.
The grape bunches dropped into my bucket as I snipped off each branch. I wiped the sweat off my forehead and swatted the flies away with each hard, cramping cut. It was repetitive, unstimulating work, but I liked giving my mind a rest. A few hours a day where I didn’t have to plan, schedule, memorise or plot. I just had to work.
As I did, I found my mind wandering to a random memory of my time in the city - namely, an old bar my friends and I used to frequent called Hunter’s. It was one of those hidden places just outside of the city centre, down some side stairway and through an old door. The exposed brick walls and low lighting led to some labelling it as a ‘dive bar’, but on the contrary, it was one of the warmest, most welcoming places I’d ever been. It wasn’t technically a ‘gay bar’, but soon became the unofficial meeting place for all the city’s queers. They even hired drag queens for performances when they realised the local live bands and crappy EDM clone DJ’s weren’t to their usual crowds’ taste. I felt like I was living the ultimate gay fantasy when I’d clock in another gruelling lecture or study session, only to head to Hunter’s with my fellow queer peers and be served a sumptuous chicken parmigiana by a drag queen on roller blades. We’d spend hours laughing and gossipping, hooting and cheering for the performers, getting stinking drunk and sloppily declaring our love for each other, and sometimes we’d even convince a patron we were attractive enough for him to go home with.
One particular night, one of the regular drag queens, a Black leather-clad beauty named Jacinta Bondage, was telling us about her custom-made outfits. About six mimosas deep, I slurred that I “would love to try something on some day”. So with a mischievous glint in her eye, she retreated to the dressing room and emerged with a gorgeous leather corset. With a misplaced sense of Dutch courage, I insisted she put it on me right then and there. With the whole smoking area’s eyes on me, she spun me around and placed the corset on me. With one high heel on the seat for balance, she pulled the laces tighter and tighter, squeezing my stomach more and more — until I vomited every mimosa from the past two hours all over the table in front of me and fell, with the corset giving me a beautifully snatched waist as I clambered back on to my feet. I laughed along with the whole bar, with Jacinta cackling and apologising, hugging me and saying she thought it’d be funny. I agreed, even if the staff were less than happy about cleaning up my vomit. But no harm done, as we returned the very next night and apologised, with the owner coyly rolling his eyes and saying “if it were anyone else, it’d be a different story”.
I was never happier than being surrounded by my community. A community I had yearned for, longed for and searched for for the longest time. The simple yet momentous confirmation that I was not alone, and I never had to be again.
A low rumbling in the distance snapped me out of my deep thoughts. That was a side effect of living in an isolated area - one developed supersonic hearing, so the slightest low noise meant it was either approaching thunder, or someone driving by on the main road.
This time, it was a vehicle. Two, actually.
I looked up and saw, across a few more dozen rows and an empty paddock, a white ute turning into the long driveway of the property next door. Even from this distance, I could hear the utility tray bounce as it drove carefully over the bumps and holes in the ground. A large orange moving truck followed behind it, and they both parked a distance away from a small, charming homestead.
I knew that house. There was an old man who lived there; I think he’d been there for decades before we had. I remember him being nice enough, but very shy and quiet. I couldn’t even recall what he looked like, only that he used to hobble at a snail’s pace along his driveway and back to check his mail every morning. Much less do I think we ever received an invitation inside; he and my parents’ relationship was more of a casual wave across the paddock to keep up the cordiality. They tried to visit him a few times a year, mainly, I think, to make sure he was still alive. Regrettably, that down-home hospitality ended with them; I hadn’t made an effort to connect with him, nay anyone else around, in the two years I’d been here.
And now it looked like someone else was moving in. I lifted my brim and zeroed my eyes in on the situation. I’d always had uncommonly good vision, particularly in long distances. I watched the two movers climb out of the truck and roll up the rear shutter door. I saw a bed frame, couches, fridges, appliances, everything to suggest a new life starting in that house.
But why here?, I thought. I only saw one bed - it looked like only one person was moving in. I always knew this tiny town as a place where people quietly retired and died in a way to make the least fuss.
I saw a figure walk around the ute and rest a hand on the bullbar while he directed the movers towards the front door. He looked tall, with a strong wide build. I watched him slightly tip his black akubra, then rest his hand on his hip in that classic good-ol’-country way; if the sun was setting behind him, his silhouette would belong in a commercial for homegrown potatoes. I couldn’t deny a healthy intrigue.
I watched him rotate around as he took in the view of his new residence.
Then he stopped dead as he looked in my direction. Right at me.
No, I thought, he can’t be looking at me. No way he could see me all the way through these vines.
It was then that I realised my hands were trembling slightly, and the shear blades were gleaming in the sunlight. The bright blinking glint would have been easily visible from acres away.
To my surprise, he nodded and threw up a hand to wave at me.
Almost automatically, I raised my hand to wave back — then felt a searing stabbing pain as I dropped the pruning shears and the blade sliced through the top of my foot.
“AAARGH!” I yelled, collapsing to the ground. I threw the shears in a rage across the grass and they hit my bucket, knocking the morning’s grapes onto the ground and into the dirt. I hissed through teeth as I clutched my bare foot in pain. Blood seeped from the cut and into my palms.
The blood that remained in my body was surely rushing to my cheeks as I hobbled away in embarrassment. I tried ducking under the vines back toward the house in a vain effort to remain hidden, but if this intriguing new neighbour saw the reflected light from my shears, he definitely saw that.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck!”
Hopping on my left foot all the way across the dewy grass and the gravel driveway, I finally made my way on to the back porch. Luckily I kept a small first aid kit right inside the back door; why I didn’t keep it somewhere closer to the vineyard, where it might actually be more useful, I had no idea. Maybe because I didn’t consider myself adventurous enough to ever sustain injury. But I was obviously just clumsy and foolhardy enough.
Wrapping a white bandage around my foot and taping it off, I glanced back across the vineyard. I couldn’t see nearly far enough beyond the vines now to get a look at next door’s, but that was probably for the better. Better I never saw him again at all, actually. Ever. Him or anyone else.
Later that afternoon, I laid sprawled out on my bed, my bandaged foot propped up on a pillow. The sunlight shone with a golden haze through the speckled dust of the window and I was grateful for the way it illuminated my open page of To Kill A Mockingbird. Like most other windows in the house, this one was splayed green with the luscious trees right outside, and the repeating rows of vines beyond them. Sometimes it felt like the vines had taken on the aggressive growth of old horror movie plant monsters and multiplied overnight, threatening to eventually surround and swallow the house whole and everyone in it. But the number of vines, of course, remained the same — their upkeep was what leered at me through the window every night.
My childhood bedroom was at the very end of the house, which didn’t count for much in a smaller cottage, but having the privacy away from my sister and parents at the other end was worth the confined space. Everything was mostly untouched from when I moved away at 19: my woefully single bed which never housed more than myself, my bedside table with my Ravenclaw-emblazoned alarm clock, the shelves hoisting a number of high school essay and debate trophies, my posters of Alien and Lord of the Rings movies, as well as Whitney Houston, Ethel Merman, Margaret Atwood and Michelle Obama. My parents were never confused as to if I was gay, but they were certainly confused as to who my idols were.
In fact, being gay was remarkably little of an issue for them. My mother had grown up with openly gay and lesbian friends, while my father was, in my mind, a perfect gentleman. I commonly described him as “Ned Flanders, without the religion”: endlessly positive, always believing in the good in people even when there was little of it, and teaching me the values of respecting women and giving to those less fortunate than us. Every young gay kid has that cliched premonition of being thrown out of the house while the “no son of mine” speech is bellowed — but my father was always the type to play a friendly game of bocce and enjoy a sumptuously flavoured pinot noir than an aggressive rugby match and a stiff beer. I came out to him when I was 16 years old, and he already had a long speech prepared about how he’d always love me and support me in whatever I chose to do.
My mother’s support was considerably quieter. We never officially had ‘the coming out talk’, but they say a mother always knows before anybody else. I came to calling her my silent cheerleader; she wasn’t going to stand on a parade float with a rainbow flag, but I suspect she treated me exactly the same as if I were straight. She decried my growing adolescent taste for pornography, she took me to and from drama rehearsals every week, and she expressed subtle disdain for the first boy I ever introduced her to. Just like any mother.
I was just reading about Scout Finch’s run-in with cranky old Mrs Dubose when my phone buzzed. I was snatched out of the world of Maycomb in a second as I picked it up and read the notification:
Daniel:  MMS attached.
I swiped the lockscreen and opened Daniel’s message. Attached was a looping GIF of one of those trashy reality shows: a well-dressed white woman threw a chair across a restaurant bar, and Daniel had written the caption ‘that time at Hunter’s when they ran out of mimosas’ followed by a cry-laughing emoji.
I chuckled out loud, but the sudden endorphin spike of laughter was quickly dulled by a wave of nostalgia and longing.
‘Hahahahaha ACTUALLY!!’, I wrote back. ‘God, I’d kill for just one mimosa from that snotty little bartender right now.’
Daniel was pretty much the only person from the city who still talked to me. A second-generation Maltese, he was somewhat of an overachiever: stylish black hair, muscular, politically active, effortlessly sailing through his law degree funded by the scholarship he got from getting Dux at his elite private school. All these attributes should have rendered him arrogant, entitled, selfish or corrupt. But on the most frustrating contrary, he was none of these things. He was actually one of the sweetest, most selfless, charitable people I ever knew. It was impossible not to compare my achievements to his when we were at uni together - it still endured today, which in my current situation made the habit downright heartbreaking.
‘haha oh god, that uppity little twink with the septum piercing?… not gonna lie, so would I actually’, he replied. He immediately sent a follow-up message, ‘how’s Dungarungarungarooville going??’
I rolled my eyes as I laughed again. When the move was finalised and I first told him my plans two years ago, he could never remember the correct name of the town - Dungoora - and instead threw together an amalgam of backwoods country town-sounding names whenever I brought it up.
‘*sigh* as good as it can be. still no real progress on the order. and I miss everyone sooo fucking much’.
I stared at my room for a moment. A small room can suddenly become vast when quiet and empty. I watched the dust on my floor dance in the golden sunlight as my phone vibrated with his reply.
‘we miss you too, babe … well, I do anyway. I havent heard Richy or Azz mention you in a while, tbh.’
I sunk into my pillow as the weight of that message hit me. That was what I both admired and despised about Daniel: his unfiltered honesty. Sometimes I’m not sure he even realised he was being offensive or brutal. To him, it was just ‘telling the truth’. Maybe that was how he achieved so much so young. But it made him being my only connection to civilisation, to the gay world, to anyone outside of my immediate family, quite tough.
I began typing ‘yeah, that doesnt hugely surprise me, they havent messaged me in ages’ — when the large incoming call display overlaid the text. The picture of Charlotte and her husband huddled together showed me that my brother-in-law Mitch was calling me.
I took a deep breath and exhaled before I answered. Mitch was one of those technophobic country boys who was much more at home at the wheel of a ride-on mower than on a smartphone, so he preferred to call people rather than text. Myself, I despised talking on the phone.
“Hi, Mitch, what’s up?” I answered.
“Hey mate, how’s it going?” his scratchy voice replied. He spoke with a deep country twang.
“Not bad, I’m just … doing some reading.”
“Yeah? How’d the grapes go today?”
I sighed. “Eh, I actually cut my foot with the fucking shears in the morning, so I took the rest of the day off”. I deliberately chose not to mention the bucket of grapes I had knocked over, making the whole day’s work moot.
“Aw, that’s no good,” he said. “Char mentioned that, uh, you might need some help. You want me to come over tomorrow?”
“Yeah, yeah, that’d be good, I reckon,” I said. I instinctively made my voice deeper when I talked to Mitch, or any men from around here. Maybe it was a subconscious thing, like gay code-switching.
“Yeah, yeah …” he replied. There was a moment of awkward silence. “Are you up to much tonight?”
Slightly taken aback, I replied, “Um … no, I’m not doing anything. Why?”
“I’m heading down to the pub for a bit with the boys from work. Did you wanna come with?”
I held my breath for a second and tensed my upper body. Nothing in the world sounded worse than what Mitch was suggesting, but I knew that Charlotte would have told him to invite me. The least I could do was heed his invite; it was only a beer, after all. And I couldn’t exactly say I was busy doing something else.
“Yeah, that could be fun,” I acquiesced.
“Sweet, I’ll swing by in about 20. Hoo-roo.”
And he quickly hung up. Mitch always ended phone calls abruptly, which I appreciated, but it always took me by surprise.
I stared at my screen and, once again, read the previous message from Daniel. ‘I haven’t heard Richy or Azz mention you in a while’. I picked up Mockingbird and tried to jump right back into Scout’s confrontation with her crotchety neighbour, but the deep cut of his blunt remark still bled. It stung even more than the one on my foot.
Moments like this made me wonder what I was working toward. Once the final order was settled, was I intending to move back to the city? I kept seeing evidence that it wouldn’t welcome me back. That I was being slowly forgotten, fading away. But then what — would I stay here? And wallow in this dark house all alone every night?
What was I really doing here?