What are the earliest memories of the place you lived in as a child? Describe your house. What did it look like? How did it smell? What did it sound like? Was it quiet like a library, or full of the noise of life? Tell us all about it, in as much detail as you can recall.
Yeah, it was old fashioned. Yeah, it was sappy. It seemed like the right thing to do, at the time. I carried her across the threshold. She let out a little yelp when I swept her up but, she put her arms around my neck and went with it. I set her down and closed my eyes. I tried to capture the vibrations of the house. To see if this was a mistake or not – I got nothing. It was still.
I had mixed emotions about bringing her here. The family homestead, as it were. But, I decided that it was inanimate, whatever happened here before was done. From the moment I carried her in the door it would be our house. There were skeletons in the closets, for sure but, they would turn to dust over time. We could sweep them out. Make our own memories. Make it our home, not just our house.
I hadn’t been here for six years. When my parents were killed, I closed the house up. I ran away and went to sea. I hired a local property management company to take care of the routine maintenance and look in from time to time. I had called them a month ago. Let them know that I was coming back. Asked them to turn on the utilities and have the place cleaned. They had done a good job.
Anne and I settled in. She assumed the responsibilities of redecorating. I encouraged her. It started slowly, I didn’t recognize the signs. Little things began happening. Doors would slam in the back of the house. The garage door would open or shut on its own. I chalked these things up to a draft and a neighbor with an identical code on their opener. I should have known better. I was blind. I couldn’t see the beginnings. More likely I didn’t want to see them. Because, things escalated fast and I continued to search for rational explanations where there were none.
We should have run away that afternoon in May. When I came home and found Anne slumped in front of the TV, the volume blasting, the carpet soaked, and an empty vodka bottle on the floor. Anne was not a drinker and she could not explain what had happened. She had no memories of that day at all.
Soon, I started seeing things; people, spirits? I would catch their motion in my periphery but when I turned my head, there was nothing, there was no one. Snippets of conversations would float into the bedroom from the front of the house, rousting me from my sleep. I would touch Anne, ensure she was sleeping next to me, and rise to investigate. As soon as my feet touched the floor silence would immediately descend onto the house again.
Tonight was the last straw. Anne and I had set down to dinner in the kitchen. Pork chops and roasted vegetables. The crash from the front room sounded bad. Sounded like a freight train. I went to look, Anne was right behind me. The room had been tossed. Tables and chairs were thrown across the room. Books and papers were strewn all over. A viscous liquid was running down the walls. I turned and looked at Anne. She was frozen, mouth agape. “Let’s go” I spun her and we ran to the back door. We got away – a motor court on the other side of town. Anne wants an explanation. I can’t tell her. I can never tell her.
In the morning I will go back to the house and torch it. Sorry Mom, you can’t let go. I have to take it from you; and this is the only way I know how. Anne and I will leave, you will never find us.
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