No one goes to the orphanage any more, not for years and years. Surrounded by mountains and fields, hours away from any city or town, it had always been a lonely place, even long ago, when all the beds were filled with the lost and the forgotten. There was only one road up to its shuttered gates, and that often flooded, when the rains came. The gate itself, had gone to rust, and the creeping ivy and weeds had long since begun to claim it as their own. There is a sign out on the grass in large friendly letters—For Sale. No one ever sees it. No one ever asks about it.
Inside, the entrance with its swooping staircase had once been grand. The walls had been varnished wood paneling and fashionable green wallpaper illuminated by lamplight, a parody of warmth and home. The grand staircase lies in shambles. The bannisters have cracked; the stairs themselves have splintered. The once fashionable wallpaper has faded and peeled away. Part of the roof caved in several years ago, during a particularly terrible storm, and a tree has begun to grow in the old dinning hall, a twisted, misshapen tree with grasping malignant roots.
The children’s rooms are all empty. A few bed frames remain, lonely skeletons stripped to the bone. In a long forgotten corner lies a children’s doll. Its eyes are missing and its head is cracked. Here and there the walls are strewn with writings, the detritus of forgotten lives. Some marked the dates and years, like prisoners counting down their sentence. Others recorded old joys and teasings—Jess and Tom sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. All gone now. Empty, silent, abandoned. Not even a birds nest, or a colony of mice to call it home. Except, sometimes from within those ruined walls comes the sound of a piano, its keys out of tune, and the sound of children laughing. But no one ever hears. No one ever listens.
No one goes to the orphanage any more, not for many, many years.
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