Her Haunted House

Image of an old house behind a fence and gate, and grass growing high around it.
Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

A hand on the garden gate, Maisie stands quietly staring at the old, neglected house.

Her house.

Sixty years ago, she has pulled the garden gate shut behind her and vowed to never come back.

Then why am I here now?

Her eyes wander over the decayed wood, the broken windows, the dislodged roof tiles. After her brother’s passing fifteen years ago, she has inherited the house as the sole survivor of their family. Maisie has never had the courage to return here.

Until now.

The gate moves under her hand, swings open, and an invisible force pushes her toward the front door.

Step by step.

Maisie barely touches the front door. It squeaks as it swings open, but she doesn’t hear that. Her eyes pierce the darkness beyond. Many memories flood back, but those are not the reason for the goosebumps on her arms.

The whispers are.

Childhood whispers.

She enters the darkness, oblivious to the holes in the wooden floor. Pushing open the door to the sitting room, she shrinks away as the image of her father flails at her, soundlessly yelling his rage. He shrinks back to the couch, his eyes filled with desperation, his arms limp beside him.

For the first time, Maisie really sees him. He’s no longer the father who has raised them with angry words and corporal punishment. Those have only been tools to hide his low self-esteem. His eyes soften and brim with tears as he looks at her.

She finds her mother in the kitchen. It breaks her heart to see her. Maisie has never stopped missing her; has always known her mother was strong, though weak in the love for her husband. A soft light surrounded her, as she wipes her floury hands on the apron, then turns to stir in a pan on the stove. She’s always been busy — her mom — baking and cooking.

And trying to keep her husband satisfied.

A tear trickles down Maisie’s cheek when her mom disappears, and the faint light streaming in through the windows shrouds everything in a grey cloak.

She walks down the hallway to the master bedroom. Everything is still the same.

Strange, she thinks, Devon has changed nothing.

Devon, her brother, who has stayed in the house after her parents have passed — first her mother, then her father. He, the splitting image of their father, both in looks and behavior, has never found a woman like their mother.

She finds Devon in his childhood room, at his desk, reading a book. It takes a while before he acknowledges her presence, and when he does, his eyes are dark pools of sorrow. Maisie shakes her head. She can’t bear to see him like this, her big brother. He has never had her guts to break free from the bond of their father.

Enough, Maisie whispers.

Enough, I have to leave.

She walks back to the front door, ready to leave this house behind her once more, to close the gate forever.

Maisie stops.

There’s one more thing…

She takes a deep, laboring breath, and rests her hand against the door of the bedroom that has been hers for the first eighteen years of her life. Another deep breath, this one laced with panic. Bit by bit, her old room comes into view as the door slowly swings open.

A soft, welcoming light rests inside. There’s her desk at the window, school books neatly stacked on top of it. Next to it was the bookcase with her favorite books, and on her first radio on top. Maisie smiles, remembering herself dancing to the music. Never too loud, because of her father.

Maisie takes another breath, her heart aching as the memories pass through her mind. With the door fully open, she turns her head to her bed, where she knows she will find her collection of stuffed toys.

Her breath catches in her throat as she sees herself sitting on the bed, writing in her diary. Pain in her heart doubles her over.

Why? Why am I here? Why?!

Then… she knows.

The panic fades.

Her heart calms down; her breaths are softer. She steps inside the room, stands in the light, and smiles.

This is her house.

* * *

On either side of her hospital bed, her daughters hold her hands, watching their troubled mother struggle with her breathing, until her body relaxes when she breathes out one last time, a slight smile remaining around her lips.

She’s found her peace.

© Rebel’s Notes

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