Every Tuesday Vicki at I’d Rather Be At the Beach hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros, where we share the first paragraph or two of a book we are reading or thinking about reading soon.

Mine comes from The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan. It’s still free for Kindle til the end of the day as part of Amazon Crossing’s World Book Day celebration.

The Gray House

The House sits on the outskirts of town. The neighborhood is called the Comb. The long buildings of the projects here are arranged in jagged rows, with empty cement squares between them—the intended  playgrounds for the young Combers. The teeth of the comb are white. They stare with many eyes and they all look just the same. In places where they haven’t sprouted yet, there are the fenced vacant lots. The piles of debris from the houses already knocked down, nesting grounds for rats and stray dogs, are much more appealing to the young Combers than the empty spaces between the teeth.

In the no-man’s-land between the two worlds—that of the teeth and that of the dumps—is the House. They call it Gray House. It is old, closer in age to the dumps, the graveyards of its contemporaries. It stands alone, as the other houses shun it, and it doesn’t look like a tooth since it is not struggling upward. Three stories high, facing the highway, it too has a backyard—a narrow rectangle cordoned off by chicken wire. It was white when built. It has since become gray, and yellowish from the other side, toward the back. It is bristling with aerials; it is strewn with cables; it is raining down plaster and weeping from the cracks. Additions and sheds cling to it, along with doghouses and garbage bins, all in the back. The facade is bare and sombre, just the way it is supposed to be.

Nobody liked Gray house. No one would admit it openly, but the inhabitants of the Comb would rather not have it in their neighborhood. They would rather it didn’t exist at all.


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