This is a short story written for my blog by my friend Liss. If you like her work I’d highly advise you to check out her deviantART account at http://everwalker.deviantart.com/
There was a hole in the floorboards. She prodded it with her toe, frowning. The rotten edge of the wood parted company with a soft ‘pfft’ and dropped away into darkness. That was irritating. It would need some attention but she just didn’t have the time right now, not with work so busy. She pulled a chair over the hole to hide it and got on with things.
A week later there was another hole. This time she got down on hands and knees to have a look. The darkness seemed to go an awfully long way down and she could feel the cold of it reaching up to freeze her skin. She pulled back, suddenly scared, and put a standing lamp over the hole. She left the light on, even during the day.
Life was busy with work, laundry, cleaning, more work. She did a lot of pacing which meant the pattern in the carpet was soon worn to an indistinct grey, no matter how much she scrubbed it. It also meant that more holes appeared. Soon all her furniture was in slightly odd places to hide them and people began to remark on it when they visited.
In the end she called a builder. He had a look around and poked some of the floorboards with his foot. She winced as they creaked.
“Yeah, you’ve got a problem,” he said. “I can sort it out, if you like, but it’s gonna take some work.”
“What sort of work?” she asked.
“Well, for a start, all these floorboards should come up. We need to see how deep the pit is. That means that the foundations might get a bit wobbly for a while.”
“You want to make it worse before you make it better?”
He shrugged. “It’s how it goes.”
She didn’t like that idea at all. The pit was too big to explore, she knew that instinctively, and the thought of opening up that well of cold dark was repellent. Besides, then everyone would know her house was falling down. She thanked the builder and sent him away.
Over the next few weeks she began shopping for new carpets. At first she couldn’t remember what the old one had looked like, only that she’d liked it, but after comparing bright colours and interesting patterns she began to appreciate the options. She took little samples home and scattered them around over the holes, slowly moving the furniture back into place. The result was a bit patchwork but quite fun. Holes kept appearing but it was okay because she knew where to shop for carpet patches now.
Then someone came to visit. He’d visited before, quite often, but he’d been polite and not mentioned the moving furniture or polka-dot carpet. This time, however, he stopped just inside the doorway and looked around. Then he turned to her.
“It’s okay to not be okay.” And he picked up the nearest patch of hole-covering carpet.
The edges crumbled into dust and the next hole was near enough that they quickly joined up. Then, with a shudder that ran through the entire house, the floor dissolved into a chasm of darkness that went down and down and down without end, vertiginous and chilling, waiting patiently to be noticed and growing all the time it was ignored. She stared at the abscess, watching the pretty patches of carefully selected carpet flutter away into the unforgiving black, and couldn’t move.
“People won’t judge you because your house needs fixing,” he said gently. “They’ll help, if you let them. I know you’re house-proud but people like helping. It makes them feel needed.”
“I don’t want the builder,” she said automatically. “He said he’d have to make it worse first. I can’t cope with worse than this.”
“Fine. You’ve got plenty of friends. Even if they only bring one floorboard each – even if they only bring a nail – that’s more than enough to help rebuild. It might be a bit lumpy in places but it’ll be built with love.”
“They’ll see the hole.” She shuddered. She couldn’t look away from it. It wouldn’t look away from her.
“It just means they’ll tread a bit more gently until the floor’s been fixed. Besides, they’ve all got cellars of their own.”
She drew a deep breath. “Maybe. Let me think about it.”
The hole is still there. She’s putting down floorboards as often as she can. Sometimes they’re stable and sometimes they’re not. When she’s feeling particularly brave or desperate she’ll let a friend come round to help, but that doesn’t happen often. She’s still house-proud. She’s not sure what of but she hopes that one day, maybe, she’ll work it out.