's 2017 Horror Write-off:

We're Getting a Humidifier

Submitted by Del Scott (email)

My sister and I have been living together for six-odd years, and the last house we rented was a fascinating nest of renovation nightmares.  My bedroom had an ancient pulley window with a broken rope, so that I could only open it by yanking on the side furthest from my bed.  After countless incidents of the toilet clogging for no apparent reason, a plumber informed us the mechanisms had been installed backwards.  A set of unhappy pipes made thumping noises that shook the whole house.  The washer leaked every single time it was used, drowning the slugs that made their way into the laundry room.  The shower was a claustrophobic stall in the frigid basement.  Most of all, it was damp.  Even with a dehumidifier running 24/7, black mold was rampant, and as soon as we closed the windows in the fall, my asthma and our allergies turned the house into a miserable coughing, wheezing, sneezing chorus.

Thankfully, this year we had the chance to move, and the little townhouse we

share now is a comparative nirvana.  My window faces the forest instead of a wall, none of the appliances could be described as "quaint", and the only time my lungs close up is when I wake up with a cat on my face.  There are some eccentricities, but they're blameless, even kind of fun-having a close look around shows the evidence of the tenants that came before us.  There's a place on the wall where the crayon hasn't quite been painted over, a couple of very faded Garfield & Friends stickers in my closet, and by the cats' behavior, the fireplace used to be the favored spot of a family dog to either sleep or thwart attempts at housebreaking.

There are a few problems, of course.  There always are.  The stairs are a pain,

the fridge is from another era, and, paradoxically to That Old House

(formerly known as This Old House, usually with a choice epithet or two

added), it's too dry.  After a few itchy nights, my sister started boiling stove

potpourri, and suggested we shower with the door open to circulate the steam. 

I agreed, especially since my room is next to the bathroom and I get the lion's share of the benefits from the impromptu humidifier.  My dry skin mellowed out, the cats stopped scratching, and we kept up the habit.

It's gotten colder the past few days, and yesterday, to my surprise and amusement, I went from a hot shower to my room to change, and found that more "history" had been revealed.  Do you remember blowing on glass and writing in the fog as a kid?  The oil from your fingertips never really goes away.  I'm sure that if it hasn't been junked by now, whoever bought the car I rode in during my childhood sees my little drawings in the back seat windows every time they start it on a cold day-smiley faces, stick figures, an entire forest of Christmas trees from one holiday excursion.  My window had apparently been holding its own set of

hidden messages.  It confirmed my assumption that my room had belonged to a kid once-the requisite smiley faces were there, along with squishy smiling cats, flowers, and a heart with initials I'll never know the names of.  It was like finding a time capsule, small and earnest and important in the way only children can make things important.  I took pictures and sent them to my sister and her girlfriend as a little piece of home while they're spending the weekend in Portland.  They sent back a clandestine message of emojis that either indicated they thought it was as cute as I did or that they had located and possibly eaten a unicorn.

I showered again today, and walked back into my room, and I texted my sister again. She promised she'll pick up a humidifier, and we agreed not to leave the door open anymore.

No matter how hard you look at the first set of pictures I sent, you won't see the words "MOMMY LET ME OUT" drawn with first-grade precision on the inside of the glass, and despite how thoroughly I cleaned the window, I know the markings never really go away.