Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Awake in the House of Dreams

Benjamin Harrison

Bathed in a junkyard of falling stars and fed on a consummate diet of strict poverty, this house is a mystery. Planted in 1922, it took eight decades for the timbers to bloom. The texture of cascading white sheets envelop the eyes as the half-open blinds, half-open as if to tease the everpresent sunlight with a darkened grin of deviltry, celebrate the dying

Shadows dance on the ashen face of Tisdale, the name that binds this house of mystery, until they're beaten away by sight of the rising moon. Elegantly placed wall sconces illuminate the grand foyer, itself diminishing under the solid oak feet of a spiraling staircase, strengthened by generations of weary souls that lived and breathed and died on all three
of Tisdale's floors.

This magnificent old house appears at first glance to be an old schooner, forever lost and still searching the open sea. Set out on a journey to the world of the beyond, the world barely glimpsed at in painting or in song, but irrevocably recognizable the first time it hits you head-on.

The specters that roam the hallways are not ghostly souvenirs of the macabre. Their distant footsteps betray requited love. If one listens intently, you'll hear the faint melancholy sounds of dueling grand pianos. The only evidence those two composers in love ever once made this house a home.

The story of Sheridan's sword delicately hanging above the fireplace in the study might be apocryphal indeed. However, truth is inconsequential and mainly resides outside the French doors in this house of dreams.

The symmetrical but neglected English gardens, overwrought with the hands of those now forgotten, reel in the Virginia countryside while a wave of daffodils gently laps against their knees.

Yes, Tisdale is enshrouded with history, but does this lend to its mystery? The mystery in the passionate embrace between the living and the gone, the mystery of the swan that dies, without its song.

The postage stamp cemetery, separated from the main house by two modern house lots, speaks of "Edwards" and "Griffins" within its tiny hedgerow fence. Nature's revenge has dealt the cemetery a quaint overgrown charm. The tombstones dot the landscape like little glistening teeth. Perpetually waiting to consume lost souls as they wander through.

Herein lies the mystery of Tisdale, and herein the mystery ends. The patrons are forever silent. Their voices carried off by history, frightened by a world spiraling out into the stars.


Benjamin Harrison studied neuroscience and philosophy at Baylor University before moving to Charlottesville, Virginia where he worked as an assistant editor at The Daily Progress. Recently, Ben relocated back to his hometown of Enid, Oklahoma where he works as a freelance writer and lives with his beautiful wife Traci and son Austin. In addition to writing, painting, and general philosophical musings, Ben can usually be found in the studio or
playing live with his band Elastic July.

© Benjamin Harrison

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012