This is a rewrite of the initial story written February 6, 2015 with titled Quiet in the House. The new title, and the rewritten story, attempts to better convey the scene from the perspective of our protagonist William Berset. The scene takes place in July 1884 and I have updated the title to “A House Too Quiet” to personalize it from the perspective of young William Bersett in July 1884 who is not quite four years old.
A growling stomach awakes William from a restless night. Waking to an empty stomach is not new to him since his father died eight months ago. After his father’s death, his mother Emma, wanted – had needed – him to sleep with her, and his two sisters 5 year old Emma Victorine, and 18 month old Mary Katharina. While he missed sleeping in the other room with his three older brothers, he did enjoy the extra comforting his mother gave him, telling him that everything would be okay. As he rubs his sleepy eyes, all he sees is blackness all around him. For a moment he is frightened by the quiet and the pitch blackness, but he can feel the warmth of his older sister Emma Victorine sleeping next to him. At almost four years old, his body is full of energy, which right now is covered in sweat from the oppressive summer’s heat that St. Louis is known for.
He scoots off the edge of the bed being careful not to wake up the others. He walks quietly over to where an open window overlooks Marion Street – a narrow street surrounded by tenement houses. The air is still, and offers no relief from the heat. The scene is like a nightmare – there are no lights, no sounds – just darkness, only a dim outline of the buildings across the way. He glances up toward where a small patch of sky is usually visible overhead. He often looks up thinking about his father in heaven still watching over him. But this morning he sees nothing, no stars are visible, just clouds that are barely reflecting the lights from nearby downtown St. Louis. He remembers his father’s deep voice from last summer, explaining how the summers in St. Louis are more uncomfortable than those in Switzerland where at age eight, he emigrated to America with his parents and family. Father had explained that the buildings in Switzerland were smaller, and had more open spaces that allowed for cool mountain breezes. William treasures these few memories of his father, as he wipes away a tear rolling down his face.