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Selling Your House

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

You put your house on the market and, on the first day, a extremely old woman comes knocking on your door. She’s not interested in buying your house, though. Instead she tells you that this is the house she lived in as a child. The friendly mood suddenly changes when she reveals something terrible that took place in the house years ago.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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171 Responses to Selling Your House

  1. KRobinson1986 says:

    CHARACTER HOME

    My husband and I are both into character homes, and this one was our perfect first home. It is idyllic, a near one hundred year old, white weatherboard two bedroom cottage. The front porch is picturesque with white roses and wisteria climbing up trellises and there’s a swing off a tree in the yard. And then there are the quirks. The slightly slanting floor of the dining room, the living room door with glass panes in it, the bathroom light switch that sometimes flicks itself back on and the funny little nook and cranny rooms. Yes this has been a home we have loved, but now it is time to sell as we look towards a bigger family that will require a bigger home.
    I admit, I was a little tearful when the agent came by yesterday to put up the sign, and even now I sit here on the porch with my cup of tea, indulging in nostalgia and watching people walk by. It is not unusual to see people stop and stare at our home, especially as most of them are tourists visiting the historic mission station next door and with the For Sale sign now posted I rightly expected many more such onlookers. What I didn’t expect, was her. A lady, mid to late seventies, wearing a red dress with little blue flowers on it, and a light blue cardigan, wandered into the front yard. She was not untidy in her appearance, indeed her hair was well coiffed, and her clothes and shoes well maintained, but her face held an inexplicable expression of sorrow.
    I stood up on the porch and called out to her politely, “Excuse me, can I help you?”
    It seemed as if she had barely noticed me as she snapped suddenly out of her world. She hesitated then walked towards me as I descended the porch steps to meet her.
    “Hello”, I speak again, “Can I help you? Are you interested in the house?”
    “Oh yes, but not as a buyer. I used to live here when I was a girl. I am in town for a few weeks and I wanted to see if the place was still here.”
    “Oh wow. My husband and I have often wondered about this house’s history. What can you tell me? Were you the first family to live here?”
    “My father built this house. It has since been added on to.” She pauses for a while, then says, almost to herself “I wasn’t sure if I could come back here, I thought…ah well nevermind.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “Well, if I were you, I wouldn’t be selling the house. I would be tearing it down brick by brick and selling the land.”
    “I beg your pardon? I’m sorry you thought you came up to –“
    “Pleasantly reminisce? No. Not that. May I come inside and sit with you?”
    “Sure.” I led this mysterious lady inside and made her a cup of tea.
    “My name is Ingrid Mossman” she said as she stirred the sugar into the tea. “And I have come here not to take a pleasant trip down memory lane, but to grieve. To say, one last goodbye.”
    Ingrid’s eyes were watery and her hands trembled. Her tea almost splashed out of the cup. I impulsively put one hand out to steady her shaking hand. She brushed me away with her cold hand.
    “I’m sorry. Not all memories are pleasant I suppose.” Maybe she lost a loved one while she lived here. Clearly this was harder for her to handle than she had thought. I watched Ingrid slowly look around the room and waited while she seemed to compose herself.
    Her eyes rested on something behind me and she started shaking.
    “What is it?”
    Ingrid pointed behind me, I looked and saw nothing but the wall behind our sofa. It was a funny shaped wall and looked as if it had been built and plastered around a broken fireplace. We had simply embraced it as part of our home’s personality and charm.
    “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand.”
    She struggled to get the words out “That’s still here? That’s still built over like that?”
    “The fireplace?”
    “The fireplace. The fireplace.” Ingrid began to wring her hands and started to mutter this over and over rocking back and forward. “Oh, oh,” she sobbed. “I can’t, I can’t do this. We need to go outside. NOW!”
    I understood that Ingrid was clearly traumatised by her memories. At this stage more than my curiosity was piqued. I tried desperately to ignore my suspicions that this seemingly happy and idyllic home may hold some dark secrets.
    We got outside into the sunshine and Ingrid calmed down a little and looked me square in the face.. “Destroy this house.” She said. “Give my brother a proper burial. He was killed by our father when we were small. He put his body in the chimney and built over the fireplace. Destroy this house.”
    With that she turned on her heels and made a fast exit, not even looking behind her as she went. My knees buckled and I sat down on the porch. The illusion of my perfect first home had been shattered. I did not dare enter back in. This is where my husband found me when he returned home from work. I explained to him what happened. He was reluctant to destroy the house based on the whims of a “crazy lady”, but when I refused to stay there another night, we moved into my mother’s home.
    A few days later when my husband came home, he was as white as a sheet. He held out a paper to me, his hand trembling.
    “I did some research of our house and of the lady who visited you. You said her name was Ingrid Mossman.”
    I scanned down the paper and then I saw it.
    “Bertram William Mossman, went missing age 4 – 1933
    Ingrid Margaret Mossman, 1925 – 1998”

  2. KRobinson1986 says:

    I know I went over the word limit, but I had too much fun with this.

    My husband and I are both into character homes, and this one was our perfect first home. It is idyllic, a near one hundred year old, white weatherboard two bedroom cottage. The front porch is picturesque with white roses and wisteria climbing up trellises and there’s a swing off a tree in the yard. And then there are the quirks. The slightly slanting floor of the dining room, the living room door with glass panes in it, the bathroom light switch that sometimes flicks itself back on and the funny little nook and cranny rooms. Yes this has been a home we have loved, but now it is time to sell as we look towards a bigger family that will require a bigger home.

    I admit, I was a little tearful when the agent came by yesterday to put up the sign, and even now I sit here on the porch with my cup of tea, indulging in nostalgia and watching people walk by. It is not unusual to see people stop and stare at our home, especially as most of them are tourists visiting the historic mission station next door and with the For Sale sign now posted I rightly expected many more such onlookers. What I didn’t expect, was her. A lady, mid to late seventies, wearing a red dress with little blue flowers on it, and a light blue cardigan, wandered into the front yard. She was not untidy in her appearance, indeed her hair was well coiffed, and her clothes and shoes well maintained, but her face held an inexplicable expression of sorrow.

    I stood up on the porch and called out to her politely, “Excuse me, can I help you?”
    It seemed as if she had barely noticed me as she snapped suddenly out of her world. She hesitated then walked towards me as I descended the porch steps to meet her.
    “Hello”, I speak again, “Can I help you? Are you interested in the house?”
    “Oh yes, but not as a buyer. I used to live here when I was a girl. I am in town for a few weeks and I wanted to see if the place was still here.”
    “Oh wow. My husband and I have often wondered about this house’s history. What can you tell me? Were you the first family to live here?”
    “My father built this house. It has since been added on to.” She pauses for a while, then says, almost to herself “I wasn’t sure if I could come back here, I thought…ah well nevermind.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “Well, if I were you, I wouldn’t be selling the house. I would be tearing it down brick by brick and selling the land.”
    “I beg your pardon? I’m sorry you thought you came up to –“
    “Pleasantly reminisce? No. Not that. May I come inside and sit with you?”
    “Sure.” I led this mysterious lady inside and made her a cup of tea.
    “My name is Ingrid Mossman” she said as she stirred the sugar into the tea. “And I have come here not to take a pleasant trip down memory lane, but to grieve. To say, one last goodbye.”
    Ingrid’s eyes were watery and her hands trembled. Her tea almost splashed out of the cup. I impulsively put one hand out to steady her shaking hand. She brushed me away with her cold hand.
    “I’m sorry. Not all memories are pleasant I suppose.” Maybe she lost a loved one while she lived here. Clearly this was harder for her to handle than she had thought. I watched Ingrid slowly look around the room and waited while she seemed to compose herself.
    Her eyes rested on something behind me and she started shaking.
    “What is it?”
    Ingrid pointed behind me, I looked and saw nothing but the wall behind our sofa. It was a funny shaped wall and looked as if it had been built and plastered around a broken fireplace. We had simply embraced it as part of our home’s personality and charm.
    “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand.”
    She struggled to get the words out “That’s still here? That’s still built over like that?”
    “The fireplace?”
    “The fireplace. The fireplace.” Ingrid began to wring her hands and started to mutter this over and over rocking back and forward. “Oh, oh,” she sobbed. “I can’t, I can’t do this. We need to go outside. NOW!”
    I understood that Ingrid was clearly traumatised by her memories. At this stage more than my curiosity was piqued. I tried desperately to ignore my suspicions that this seemingly happy and idyllic home may hold some dark secrets.
    We got outside into the sunshine and Ingrid calmed down a little and looked me square in the face.. “Destroy this house.” She said. “Give my brother a proper burial. He was killed by our father when we were small. He put his body in the chimney and built over the fireplace. Destroy this house.”
    With that she turned on her heels and made a fast exit, not even looking behind her as she went. My knees buckled and I sat down on the porch. The illusion of my perfect first home had been shattered. I did not dare enter back in. This is where my husband found me when he returned home from work. I explained to him what happened. He was reluctant to destroy the house based on the whims of a “crazy lady”, but when I refused to stay there another night, we moved into my mother’s home.
    A few days later when my husband came home, he was as white as a sheet. He held out a paper to me, his hand trembling.
    “I did some research of our house and of the lady who visited you. You said her name was Ingrid Mossman.”
    I scanned down the paper and then I saw it.
    “Bertram William Mossman, went missing age 4 – 1933
    Ingrid Margaret Mossman, 1925 – 1998”

  3. randi100 says:

    Ding dong!
    The door bell rang unexpectedly as I was making dinner. I didn’t want to burn the food so my husband answered the door.
    “may I help you?”he asked
    “no,but I will help you”the old lady answered
    She pushed her way past my husband and came into the kitchen as I was putting the casserole and salad on the table.
    She told us that she was Esther and that she lived in this house when she was little. Her parents sold it when she was 22. She also told us that she could make us rich.
    I looked at my husband. He looked at me. Do we listen to her or do we call the cops?
    We listened.
    “When I was 20 my friends and I robbed a guy.” she admitted. “I have never told anyone that before” “we were so afraid of getting caught that we hid his stuff.”We never talked about it again.”
    “where did you hide it? We asked
    “Under the loose floorboard in the kitchen.”Esther said
    We all went into the kitchen. We knew exactly which floorboard she was talking about,we never did get that fixed.
    Jake pulled up the board (now we will have to get that fixed since the house is on the market). He reached down up to his elbow. His eyes widened as he pulled out a small bag. He opened the bag and gasped. Inside were 4 huge diamonds and a large stack of hundred dollar bills. We were so stunned that we didn’t even realize that Esther was behind us with a gun pointed at my head.
    “hand it over”she bellowed.
    “I thought you were a sweet,old lady.”I said.
    “wrong!”she exclaimed ” don’t you know that you shouldn’t let strangers in your house?” she asked
    The last thing I saw was my husband falling to the ground in a pool of his own blood and the last thing I hear was her gun firing while it was pointed at my own head.

  4. YoungLove says:

    “Are you sure about this baby?”
    “Yeah, let’s sell the house,” she said.

    So we put the house on the market. And then, the very next day, some old lady comes knocking on our door. “I saw the ‘for sale’ sign in your yard.”
    “That was the goal. Are you interested in buying the house?”
    “No.”
    “Then why are you here?”
    “Because I wanted to tell you a story.”
    “Look, lady, I don’t have time for this.” As I’m about to shut the door, my wife comes over. Once she sees the lady, she tells me to open the door.
    “Why are you here?” She asks. She’s always eager for a story.
    “Well, I’m glad that someone’s interested in hearing my story.”

    And this is how I learned the story of little Natalie. A girl who lived in the house that my wife and I recently sold. She told us about the days when she used to sell lemonade in the street, how she would hide in the attic when her daddy got mad, how she would have sleepovers with all her friends from school. And then she told us why she came to talk to us.

    “Twenty-two years ago, I was in an accident that caused me to lose all of my memory. I had been searching ever since to find something that would make me remember. And then I saw your sign in the yard, and I remembered. I remembered everything. I remembered the young lady in the car. I remembered how she suffered a far worse fate than I did. I remembered the house. I remembered how I gave her this house the day she turned eighteen, because I was so proud of her getting into college. The first one in our family, can you believe that? I remembered her little baby boy, the one that would never know his mother. The one that was only two months old when she passed.”

    “Look, I don’t know who you are, but this house was passed down to me by my father. He died two years ago. He had cancer.”

    “Yes, I remember him as well. I never liked the fellow, but he treated my daughter well.”

    “What are you saying?”

    “Well, I’m your grandmother.”

  5. Kerry Charlton says:

    I have a favor to ask. I’m new at this game, trying to catch up with the rest of you. I posted a story in a former writing prompt titled “There’s Something You Need To Know About That Night.” The story is “No Better Mother” I would appreciate your advice and critique. The only way I can play with the rest of you, is with your help. Thank you for your patience.

  6. swatchcat says:

    Dreading the possibility that the old woman would show up again was unbearable. The Pikes had moved four times in the last four years. They were getting ready to move again. Trish peaked out the curtains to see if she was there.

    As Trish pulled back the curtains she jumped back screaming. The old ladies wrinkly face was pasted against the glass, fogging it up with every breath. Trish reached for the closest thing to brace herself, knocking a vase to the floor.

    “Go away!” She yelled at the lady. “Please stop following us!”

    At first Trish and Mike didn’t think anything of it. A lonely old lady with no where to go, maybe just needed a friendly gestger. She walked up to the first open house, pulling a little rolling grocery basket behind her. They invited her in and through her odd ability to get people to open up; she got the Pikes to reveal a haunting that pushed them from their home.

    What Mike and Trish didn’t realize was the demon within the little old lady was the guardian of the Pike pact; a lingering pact with the devil that eventually a future generation would be called on to relinquish its first born. The haunting’s were the forebodings of a mother’s intuition and spirits hungry for their prey. As the years past and Trish had not become pregnant, the spirits seemed to get pushier, and with each move to run away, the old lady would show up.

    As Trish crouched down to the floor hoping to stay out of view from the windows, she could hear the old ladies voice as though it echoed through the house. “You can’t hide, any house you live in the curse will follow. Pay the debt.”

    Trish crawled to the phone and dialed Mike’s number. It rang a few times. “Hello, Trish, honey?”

    “She’s here. Did you do it?” Trish asked quietly, afraid some being would find out.

    “I’m in recovery now, it’s done.” Mike responded. What the old lady didn’t know was Mike has just had a Vasectomy. They would never have children.

    Trish took a deep refreshing breath. She yelled from the living room floor. “Gotcha old bitty!”

    As if in realization, a dark cloud came over the house and thunder clapped. A loud ear wrenching, blood curdling scream came from all around. It was over.

    A month or so past, Mike and Trish were settled into their new home, when Trish came down with the flu. She spent a week, in bed vomiting, sick to her stomach. With all the stress and the move she hadn’t time to realize how late her monthlies were. Now she sat on the floor of the bathroom staring at the little pink plus staring back from the rim of the tub. She locked the door and screamed at the top of her lungs. “No!”

  7. karenguccione says:

    “Don’t sit there!” my realtor screeched as she fluffed the couch pillows for the tenth time that hour. Lately everything focused on getting the house ready to sell. I walked into the kitchen to pour myself a drink but before I could retrieve a glass the agent reprimanded me about dirty dishes.
    Suddenly the doorbell rang signaling our first potential buyer. Striding to the entryway, I pasted on a smile and opened the door. Much to my surprise, a petite woman who reminded me of my late great-grandmother stood before me. Standing barely five feet tall, she looked up at me with gray eyes and a pencil thin smile.
    “May I help you” I asked, not sure exactly how to handle the situation.
    “I saw that your house was for sale,” the elderly woman replied as she peered around me.
    “Um yes, it is. Are you looking for a house?” I asked her, trying to hide the uncertainty I currently felt.
    “Oh no, young man. I live with my daughter,” she answered with a tiny laugh.
    “I see. Well, do you need something?” I wanted to be polite but honestly, I had no idea why this woman was on my porch.
    “This was my house when I was just a girl. We lived here for almost fifteen years. I was hoping you would let me see it one last time,” she said, looking at me hopefully.
    I hesitated, knowing that my realtor would kill me if I let some random lady in during our open house. But at the same time, what could this woman really do? She just wanted to see her former house.
    Reluctantly, I nodded to the woman and stepped out of her way. Her face brightened as she shuffled past me down the hall. I followed her to our son’s bedroom, unsure of what was next but hoping the visit would be brief.
    The woman stopped at the door and looked back at me.
    “My name is Agnes. Agnes Whitfield.”
    My mind reeled.
    “Did you say Whitfield? My wife’s maiden name is Whitfield. This house has been in her family for years.”
    Ignoring me, she walked into the room and sank to the floor.
    “Are you okay?” I asked rushing to her, instantly regretting my decision. We would never be able to sell our house if this old lady dropped dead in it during our open house.
    Agnes looked up at me from the floor, tears streaming down her face.
    “This is where she died. This is where he killed her.”
    “Killed her? What are you talking about?”
    She pointed toward the closet, her bony finger shaking.
    “My father strangled my mother in this room when I was just a girl.” Agnes answered, her voice trembling.
    I backed away, shaking my head in disbelief.
    “Her spirit is here. I feel it. She is still here.”
    Laying her head down, Agnes whispered “Hi mama. I’m ready” as she took her last breath.

  8. MCKEVIN says:

    This is for douglangille, Dmelde, swatchcat and smallster21. Please add this to my passage below. Thanks everybody for reading and commenting. See you at the next prompt.

    Granny stood up, brushed herself off prepared to act like the victim.
    “Thank you officer.”
    “Tell me what happened m’am.”
    “I was admiring the outside architectural details on this building when this young man invited me in. “
    “You’re a liar!”
    “Sir!”
    “He said I reminded him of his NaNa and insisted I see the kitchen.”
    “She’s lying!”
    “Quiet!”
    “I wanted and tried to leave but he restrained me and I used the only protection I had to defend myself, my cane. I wouldn’t have come in if I knew he wasn’t stable.”
    “You don’t believe her do you?”
    “Why shouldn’t I?”
    “Because she’s lying!”
    “M’am do you have Identification?”
    “Yes I do.”
    “She reached in her sixties styled purse, pulled out a frayed card and handed it to the officer. He spoke into his walkie talkie as he read the identification.
    “City Desk, This is officer 123 I need to verify an expired ID L as in Lucy, I as in Irene and E as in Epting. Ten 4.”
    “Copy Officer 123.”
    This will take a minute but we’ll get to the bottom of this.” The officer explained.
    Minutes pass…
    “Officer 123, No warrants or information on that Lucy Irene Epting. She’s clear. Ten 4.”
    “Copy. Thanks. Ten 4.”
    “Sir, I need you to turn around with your hands-“
    “She’s lying!”
    “Sir, we can do this the easy way or-“
    “The ID’s expired. It’s not hers.”
    “Turn around!”
    “She’s lying I tell you!”
    “Sir!”
    Defeated, he did as he was told.
    Mrs. Lucille Irene Giltmore watched Tracy E. Washington being put in the Police car as she pulled up the “For Sale” sign in her front yard and headed up her stairs in the Twilight Zone.

    • swatchcat says:

      HaHa, nicely done. Everyone believes the poor little old lady. Side note, are you having problems posting to the new prompt? The comment box isn’t appearing for me. I’ve been trying sense Tuesday evening and there still isn’t any comment box. I was a little overly excited to post mine as it came to me so fast and fluid but it seems no one will see it to tell me whether it sucks or not.

  9. Icabu says:

    *** This is a continuation from the 4/3/12 prompt ‘Letter From Toy’ & the 2/5/13 prompt ‘Something You Should Know About That Night’ ***

    Sitting on the front steps, Shelly stared at the new For Sale sign in front of the now empty orphanage. She’d worked hard the past two months to get all of the children out. Everyone was a bit bewildered by her sudden change of heart with running the orphanage. So was she.

    She knew her childhood toy, Bobo the stuffed rabbit, couldn’t really talk and it couldn’t have known what had happened that long ago night when her house and the rest of her family burned in a horrific fire. Still, the cold, dark fear of that night crept into her soul since she’d imagined Bobo had said he knew the fire wasn’t an accident.

    The fear froze her as more dark memories revealed themselves. She had whispered to Bobo in bed at night, scared and alone in that room upstairs. All of those dark secrets that she’d buried, smothered. Why had she done that? Could any of the other children hear Bobo like she had? Shivering with paralyzing fear as her thoughts rampaged in forbidden directions, a scraping on the sidewalk made Shelly jump and nearly scream.

    “Well, hello, deary.”

    The shriveled old woman calmed Shelly. It was just a harmless old woman.

    “Hello.” Shelly remained seated because her legs were still unsteady. “Are you interested in buying?”

    “Oh, no, deary. I’ve already lived here and shed the ghosts of this place. I won’t let it hurt me anymore.”

    Shelly’s heart pounded, forcing icy new fears throughout her body. “What do you mean?”

    “Oh, you know. I can see that you know very well.” The old woman’s gaze traveled over the house. “This place will pull the most horrific truths out of you. It lures you in, breaks you down until you hurt, you’re desperate. I can see that you’re desperate. If you want to keep the truths hidden, you know what to do.”

    “I don’t understand,” Shelly muttered as the old woman turned to leave. Unfortunately, she really did understand.

    The old woman cackled. “Yes you do, deary.” She stopped, but did not turn around. “This place has always been a home for the lost. There were eight of us kids. We were destined to be on our own.” She paused briefly. “I was voted to make sure we were. It was easy. Do what you must, deary. Keep the truths hidden.”

    Shelly’s fingers flew across her laptop, bringing up news articles from the town she’d recently fled. The headline that caught her attention: “Recently vacated group home burns to the ground. Investigation proceeding.”

    She closed the laptop and grabbed her train ticket. The name on it now was Elizabeth. Maybe she’d go by Liz now, or maybe Beth. Smiling, she boarded, starting over once again.

  10. phfed says:

    Tom Watkins’ wife Sharon inherited the old four bedroom farmhouse from an anonymous relative. It was as close to having a rich uncle die and leaving them a pile of money they were going to get. She fell in love with the place the first time she saw it, a two storey gable with wraparound covered porch and big backyard, she envisioned herself raising a big family and living there forever.
    But work got in the way, as it always did, so they put off having kids and now Tom was being transferred across the country.
    Sharon stood among the boxes on the porch and watched the real estate agent pound the For Sale sign into the front yard. Tom had gone on ahead, leaving her to deal with the move, and she felt uneasy about staying in the old house alone.
    The agent drove off and Sharon went inside. Halfway to the kitchen to make coffee, there was a rap at the front door. She opened up and before her stooped a wrinkled old woman. Her black dress a stark contrast to the pure white hair pulled back in a bun. Pale shrivelled hands clutched a small black purse. Her intense blue eyes found Sharon’s and she said,
    ” Oh hello, young lady. My name is Edna Gruber. I hope i’m not bothering you? ”
    ” No, not at all. What can I do for you? Are you interested in the house? ” The old woman motioned with a bony hand,
    ” Oh yes. I am vey interested in your house, but not in the way you think. You see, I was born and raised here and there are some things you should know. ”

    Sharon gripped the coffee mug with both hands, her brain reeled from what Edna told her.
    ” You’re my grandmother? But Mum and Dad told me you had passed away. I don’t understand, ” she said.
    ” That may be true, my dear, but only if they were your real parents. ” The blood drained from Sharon’s head. She felt dizzy.
    ” What are you saying? ” She croaked. Edna took a sip of her coffee, then reached across the kitchen table and cupped Sharon’s hands.
    ” I’m sorry, but it is time you were told. Your father killed your mother, then himself, here in the house. She was going to leave and take you away. Just a baby you were, given over for adoption soon after. ”
    ” Why are you telling me this now? ” Sharon sobbed, and tried to break free of the old woman’s grasp.
    Edna was stunned. How could Sharon not understand? The house had been in the family for generations,
    ” We will not allow you to sell. It must remain in the family. ” Sharon rose out of her chair, but her legs buckled and she fell, arms still pinned on the table. The poison Edna had put in her coffee had taken effect. The old woman let her go and she slumped the rest of the way to the floor.
    Edna stood and placed her cup in the sink. She caressed the countertop and there was a creak and groan as the house settled around her.
    ” Not to worry, my Love, ” she spoke as if it were alive, ” we still have a chance with the twin sister. “

    • smallster21 says:

      I think the beginning started off nice and the introduction of the little old lady was smooth and very well described. I don’t think Tom Watkins needs to be mentioned right at the beginning. Should just start off with Sharon since it is from her point of view and he makes no appearance. I could see the farmhouse very clearly in my mind, so you did a nice job at establishing the setting.

      It seemed like there were a lot of things going on and I didn’t see how they tied together. If I’m not seeing something that I should, I apologize. I don’t see what the old woman’s real goal is here. Is it simply just to keep the house in the family? At the end is she implying she is going to leave the house to the other sister? For what? To make sure she doesn’t sell it? Why is it so important? Why doesn’t the old lady just move in? Or does she have some evil ulterior motive that has something to do with why Sharon’s father killed her mother? And, that is what I was most confused about. Why did Sharon’s father kill her mother and then himself? What does that have to do with the plot? Did the grandma kill them too?

      It was well written and I can see the workings of a longer story; given time to develop the plot would answer all those questions.

      • phfed says:

        Thanks for the input. I originally had Tom as the pov character but changed gears and couldn’t let him go, I guess. The house is exerting an evil influence on the old woman and father, making him kill his wife so she doesn’t run off with the twins. The fly in the ointment is he offs himself as well, and the baby sisters are adopted out to different families. It was tough to try and get this out in five hundred words so I kinda left it up to the reader to picture. My apologies for the confusion.

  11. On the other side of the door was a little old lady, with tears streaming down her face. “Come in, please” I say, slightly uncomfortable with the lady’s tears.
    “It looks the same, I can still feel her presence here” She said.
    The lady sinks into my couch, seeming to be lost in another world, the world of her own mind. The starts speaking as if in a trance.
    ” We were living a fairy tale, me and my husband. It was only a short year later that we had our first child. Her name was Jessie, and she was beautiful. She had the deepest blue eyes and the most gorgeous hair, like silk. Everything was perfect, but like all things, the perfection shattered.” She pauses to catch her breath. Falling back into her trance, she starts speaking once again. “Jessie was 4 when it all started. She was more tired than usual, not putting up a fight at nap time. She ate less and less. She constantly said she hurt somewhere, everywhere, but nothing seemed to help. After a month of this, we took her to a doctor. I knew we should have taken her sooner, but Jason never listened. The doctor was stumped. So I took her to the hospital. They did test after test, xray after xray, but found nothing. It was in an MRI that we finaly got our answers. Jessie, it turns out, had a brain tumor, it was unknown if it was cancerous. Nonetheless, the doctor said her chances were grave. He said they could try to delay, but not beat this thing hurting my baby. She was a trooper, though. The medicines made her throw up, made her swell, made her frail. We watched her slowly wither away, helpless. One day, we realized we only had one or two more days. Our time together was ending. She wanted to be at home when she passed, so the doctors released her with a nurse to stay until the end. It was around 2 A.M. when the nurse said we only had an hour or so left. We gathered around her pink covered bed, me on her left side, Jason on her right. Both of us griping her hands so hard, it probably hurt her. I looked her in the eye, and sang to her, her favorite lulaby. As she slowly closed her eyes, I still sang softly, ‘As you close your eyes and drift to sleep, instead of counting silly sheep, think of the stars and the moon in the sky. Don’t be scared, don’t you cry…’ Just then, her eyes shut and her breathing slowed. I watched the life float out of her body, my baby, my gift from heaven….” As she stopped talking
    The old lady, as she was leaving sang, “As you close your eyes and drift to sleep, instead of counting silly sheep, think of the stars and the moon in the sky. Don’t be scared, don’t you cry…..”

  12. bjamison71 says:

    “Thank you, Dearie!” the old woman enthused tremulously as she crossed the threshold. Gnarled fingers clutched my hand with surprising strength as she beamed up at me with milky blue eyes. “I can’t tell you how much this means to me!”
    “No trouble at all,” I said, although it was. Steve had given me the afternoon to pack my things, and I didn’t want to chance being there when he returned. “Would you like something to drink?”
    “Hot tea would be lovely, if you have it, Dearie.”
    I slipped into the kitchen to put the kettle on, and my visitor followed.
    “Heavens, it’s just as I remember it!” she breathed, raising a shaky hand to her lips. Coming up on my right, she placed her hand gently on my arm as I readied the cups and saucers. “Would you mind? It’s been so long since I’ve made tea in this kitchen…”
    I gave in to her request and took a seat at the table.
    “You say you grew up here?”
    “Oh, yes!” she said. “This house was in my family for generations! Pity about the curse…”
    “What curse?”
    “Why, the Marital Curse, of course! Any marriage that resides in this house is doomed to fail… didn’t you know?”
    I wanted to say that I knew all too well, but my own impending divorce had nothing to do with any so-called curse.
    “My grandmother was the first…” she began.
    One hour and two cups of tea later, I knew the whole story: Her grandfather had had an affair, and her grandmother had gone mad and hacked him to pieces with a machete… Decades later, the old woman–then a girl of nineteen—had assisted her own mother in killing her adulterous second husband and helped to bury him in the backyard… Still later, she had murdered her own philandering husband, and years afterward helped her daughter do the same when her spouse also proved to be unfaithful.
    “We had hoped that making those vile men pay for their sins would lift the evil from this house,” the old woman concluded ruefully. “But I can see that it hasn’t happened yet…” She reached out and placed her aged hand over mine as tears spilled down my cheeks.
    “No, it hasn’t,” I admitted. “But it’s not the curse, and it’s not my husband… it’s me. I cheated! I had the affair!”
    “Oh, my,” the woman breathed. “Steven said I’d never get you to admit it…”
    “It was just one night, and—” I froze. “How do you know my husband’s name?”
    “Why, he’s my grandson, Dearie!” she said. “We had to keep the house in the family, of course, what with all the secrets buried here! My daughter died years before you and Steven met, and I hadn’t seen him since the funeral, until he called me last week to say that you two were having problems…”
    My skin broke out in a cold sweat, and my heart skipped a strange beat. I glanced down into my teacup, the tiny remnants of crushed pills barely visible unless you knew what you were looking for. The room began to swim around me, and when I looked up again the old woman eyed me with a sinister grin on her face.
    “How did you say your husband died?” I croaked, my throat closing in. “And your daughter’s husband?”
    “Why, poison, of course!” she cackled gleefully, as the world went dark and the floor rose up to meet me.

    • Cyntax says:

      Ha! Nice twist at the end!

    • smallster21 says:

      I like the descriptions; ‘gnarled fingers’, ‘milky blue eyes’, I can picture her clearly; she has cataracts? Going blind? You gave the old lady great personality right away with her description, actions and dialogue. I enjoyed her character. She seemed upbeat and kind at first, and a little quirky. I enjoyed the surprise at the end of why she was really there. Nice set up and execution :)

    • nelleg says:

      Great twist to the story. nicely done.

    • bjamison71 says:

      Thank you all for the input! On the advice of an agent I submitted to, I am working at becoming more concise in my writing and getting to the ‘meat’ of the story sooner, and the word limit on these prompts is definately helping in that arena! ;-)

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Nice… Keep up the good work…

  13. bryyan48 says:

    “Good day, young lady. What brings you to my doorstep today?”

    Her mouth caved in to her withered face as she smiled. She reached for my hand. “I’m beyond the age of flattery, sonny – I’m ninety-one”, she said. “Nice of you to try, though.”

    “So, you’re not here to sell Girl Scout cookies,. What can I do for you?”

    The man behind the wheelchair smiled and winked at me.

    “My driver pointed out the sign in the yard. I asked him to stop,” she said.

    I tilted my head in question. Surely, she’s not in the market to buy a house.

    She continued, “This house brings back fond memories. I frolicked in this yard as early as I can remember. I lived here, long. long ago.”

    I visioned her out there skipping circles in years gone by. “I see. Welcome home,” I said. “Would you like to come in and look around?”

    “Oh, no, no!” she said, letting loose of my hand with a frightened expression. “I know every crook and cranny in this house, all too well! My father fell down those stairs behind you, to his death. I was but five years old. My mother passed giving birth to me in that back room.

    “That’s terrible!” I said, looking back at the stairs

    “It doesn’t end there. My auntie inherited the house and raised me until I was twenty-one. She screamed and I heard her tumble one day. I ran out of my bedroom to see – that’s my bedroom up there at the top.” She pointed. “I found her lifeless, in a pool of blood at the bottom of those steps. Those damned steps. You need to be careful on those steps!”

    I didn’t know what to say.

    “I didn’t come to your door to trouble you with those frightening memories,” she said. “I came to tell you something you might want to know before you give up the house.”

    I couldn’t imagine what.

    “My auntie, oh, I suppose I was near a teenager when she first told me, my father had hidden something in this house. We looked high and low but we could never find it. We looked everywhere that something could be found, save tearing the walls out and the floorboards up.” She swayed from her story, like old folks do. “Did you know that this was the most fancy house in the community in its day?”

    “No, I didn’t realize that,” I said. It’s a middle class neighborhood, now.

    “Yes, yes,” she said. ” My father had it built in the early 1920′s. He was a well to do business man, so I was told. I was born of a silver spoon, a spoiled little girl, I would say.”

    Curiosity was killing me. What did he hide?

    “He had foreseen the Great Depression coming, Auntie told me. He withdrew all of his fortune from the banks, several years prior. Over a million dollars. That was a lot of money in those days, ya know?”

    “No way!” I was thinking.

    “That’s still a lot of money!” I exclaimed.

    “I suppose it is,” she said. “Anyway, that’s what he hid somewhere in this house. You might take a good peek around here before you up and sell this place. It must be here somewhere. It has to be!

    “Well, I suppose I’ve bothered you enough, today. Take me back to the car, now Michael.”

    “Yes, Mrs. Larson,” the driver said. “Good day to you, Sir.”

    “Good day to you, as well,” I said, “and thank you, Mrs. Larson. It was nice to meet you and I’ll be sure to have a look around.”

    I closed the door, gave it some thought, and picked up the phone.

    “Hello. This is Rita, at Our Share Reality.”

    “Hi Rita. This is Dan White. I’m taking the for sale sign out of the yard. The house is no longer for sale.”

    “Okay Mr. White, but it’s only been up one day. Is there anything we can do to change your mind?”

    “No, thanks, Rita. I’m tearing it down.”

    • bryyan48 says:

      I certainly left this story hanging…sorry, but hey! I’m new at this. Please, allow me to present some clarity to its end::

      “No thanks, Rita, I’m tearing the house down, one board at a time.”

  14. TD_Memm says:

    Perfect weather, a perfect street a perfect price. I had these three things going for me on the first of hopefully few open houses. The market was ripe for buying and with a growing family, additional space was becoming increasingly necessary. The only problem with buying a new home is having to sell the old one. I’d make some money on the place. It wouldn’t be as much as it could have been given the equity built over time, but I was optimistic. We made all the necessary updates to the place. We added value in all the right areas. My wife was out of the house for the day with our two little ones and I still had an hour before prospective buyers showed up.

    I wanted to be there. I felt it brought a little something in the way of personal touch. It also let people know who they were buying from. They could see I was a good guy and hopefully prevent them from acting like assholes in the negotiation process. The realtor put out the cookies and juice or whatever he did. Paranoia pestered me relentlessly as I perpetually fixed crooked picture frames and wiped the granite counter tops for the ump-tenth time. It might have gotten worse were it not for the doorbell.

    “I’ll get it,” I called to Alan, the realtor. With a short jog and a twist of the brass knob, I faced my interrupter.
    An old woman; she stood barely five feet tall and had wisps of cobwebs pushing out from inside her skull. This woman wore black to either hide her lumps or call to attention the subliminally generated idea she might be a witch.

    “Hello,” I greeted with skepticism. “Can I help you?” She didn’t speak. “Ma’am, I’m sorry but the open house isn’t until two.”

    “Open house,” she replied. It wasn’t a question, but consideration.

    “We’re not quite ready yet.”

    “You live in this house.” Again, she wasn’t asking a question. “You cannot leave this house.”

    “Sorry?” I frowned. “We’re putting the home up for sale. We’re moving to another place. A bigger home.”

    “You’ll not be able to leave the house,” she elaborated. “For what happened here.”

    I contemplated shutting the door. I really did want to slam it shut on her warted, crooked nose. She appeared to be past the century mark in her years but oblivious to the fact her body continued to exist. No grooming took place whatsoever. Then the smell started to become noticeable.

    “There was a murder here,” she went on.

    “A murder?”

    “Oh, yes. A terrible murder. Terrible.”

    “And how might you know that?” I asked.

    “Because,” she grinned, toothlessly. “It was I who died. You will stay.”

    “Alright, ma’am,” I smiled faintly, nodding. “Thank you for stopping by. Have a nice day.”
    I shut the door. A sigh and a shudder accompanied another knock on the door. I ripped it open, ready to be more forceful, but the woman was gone.

    • Mittens1326 says:

      Creepy!! I liked your descriptions… wanted to keep reading and see how it turned out! Great job!

    • smallster21 says:

      Some great visuals and descriptions and portrayal of human emotions. I could feel his anxiety as he turned on the OCD. ‘Wisps of cobwebs pushing out from inside her skull’…great description of her hair and love the lumpy witch comment. Lol, why doesn’t she want him to leave? Demanding ghost isn’t she. To help develop the creep factor, I’d hold out on the old lady’s confession; it seemed sudden. Develop it a bit more, and with 500 words that is hard, so if you turn it into a longer story you could do that.

  15. directrj says:

    “Wait, what did you say,” he responded almost just as a reaction. He clearly heard what the woman said and when she repeated herself, he didn’t hear it. His mind was flashing through all of the experiences he had in the house – all of them, good or bad, were now tainted with the phrase that had just spilled out of the woman’s mouth as if it was just plain small talk.

    Stunned still, he said, “Are you serious? How can that be? I’ve been living here for 6 years and never heard anything about that from anybody…not from the neighbors, the realtor, the dam tax assessor…nobody. You would think that the city or the state would tell you something like that; that they would have to tell you. I mean, there has to be some record of it somewhere, because that isn’t something that people forget about. There are laws and just plain moral and ethical obligations to your fellow human being. You know? “

    The old woman said nothing, seemingly surprised at his reaction.

    And, he continued, “Honestly, how can I sell this house now? I can’t knowingly sell this to a family. Can you imagine having kids and finding that out; knowing that your kids were exposed to that. I can’t do it. The only thing I can do now is foreclose. Let the bank have it and let them have that weight on their conscience.”

    He stared at the woman gasping and with wide eyes full of emotion.

    “I don’t understand why you are so mad,” said the woman at last.

    With that, he sort of calmed down – apparently understanding how to make it work.

    “Look,” he said, “I may have been thinking about this all wrong. There probably are some people that would want this house, even knowing its history. In fact, some people might pay more. Thanks, Mrs. Limbaugh.”

  16. Kerry Charlton says:

    Thank you for the tip in the extra sentence on blood. I know better; it didn’t sound right in the first place. At my age, my life is full of typos.

  17. Novic says:

    I shall try.thank you for commenting

  18. Novic says:

    I thought he commited suicide too! Thank you for your sun-like comments,they provide requisite for my growth in this.

  19. Paulito says:

    “Sorry, sugar, I don’t want to buy the house. I just want to look: it’s the house I grew up in.”
    I let my fingers drop from the doorknob. “Oh. Is that right?” I don’t need to work hard to keep out a bony, old woman. I don’t need to be ready to slam the door and chain it.
    She enters without being invited and sweeps the living room in her gaze. Fireplace, bay windows, French doors to the dining room, stairwell, kitchen door. “Still the same old place, more or less. A good house,” she says. “Always has been.”
    When her eyes land on me, I feel accusation, even if her mouth smiles.
    “I’m sorry to have to sell it,” I begin. “Work, you know. A job. In a different city. It’s…” I shrug and puff my cheeks slightly in the universal gesture of inevitable defeat at the hands of circumstance.
    “Yes.” The word draws itself out, like steam sighing from the home’s old radiators in winter. “Yes.”
    “Yes,” I repeat and nod.
    Then her eyes hold accusation, her mouth no smile, and I feel something like talons clutching my chest. “My father beat me in the kitchen. Do you mind if I see?” She brushes past me.
    “What? No. No!”
    She has a hand on the stove. “It’s different, at least.” She lifts the sleeve of her left arm. A broad keloid scar covers the side of her elbow. “Different from the one he burned me with, at least.”
    “I’m sorry, ma’am, but maybe—”
    “Do you know why he would want to beat and burn me?”
    “I, I, I don’t. No, I don’t.” I am hostage to my sympathy and her brazenness.
    “That,” she points to the hardwood floor of the dining room. She moves toward it, but will not touch it, as if drawn by a magnet to the edge of a cliff. “That there, is the floor he and I laid. He was then varnishing late at night, and I was helping, and I knocked over the kerosene lamp and nearly burned the whole thing up. He lost his eyebrows. Told me he’d teach me what it was like to be reckless with fire.”
    I stare at her back. Would the scar really be there and so big after so many years? Would her dad really have let her help, in, what, the mid-1950s? Wouldn’t they have used an electric light instead of a kerosene lamp? Did she actually grow up here?
    She turns fiercely. Her breathes come hard. “All I want,” she says, “is compensation for my work. He never paid me. Every time the house is sold, though, I get my share. $94.42. That’s what you owe me. That’s what you’ll pay.”
    I step backward and touch my fingers to my chest. I feel the edge of the envelope I forgot in my pocket. $94.42. The cash, invisible inside, is from the reimbursement check from the insurance company for a small fire.

  20. Cin5456 says:

    Fragile Marble

    Before answering the doorbell I straightened the throw pillows, and picked up my son’s backpack. I tossed it in the foyer closet and opened the door. A tiny woman pulled the edge of a black wool scarf back from her eyes as a gust of Santa Anna wind blew sand in my face. She rocked forward with the force at her back.
    “Hello.” I stretched to see the driveway, expecting a family to come spilling out of a minivan behind her. No car idled in the driveway, or at the curb.
    “I saw your sign, and wondered if I could look around.” Her timid voice scratched at my nerves.
    “Certainly,” I said, thinking about the basket full of ironing that awaited my attention. At least the rest of the laundry was done. As I stepped aside, the woman shuffled arthritic legs over the threshold. Her shoes had heavy, thick soles that the ankle length black dress did not cover. She grasped the door frame to lift her trailing leg over high stoop. When I had closed out the wind, she lowered the wool scarf from thick black hair shot with silver streaks. It was pulled loosely into a thick braid with stray hairs spiking like a punker’s from static electricity. A brief smile creased her cheeks; cataracts concealed her thoughts.
    “Are you interested in buying for your family?” I asked. I had not expected a buyer her age, alone, no car, and no family backing her up.
    “No. I’m sorry, but I’m not here to buy your house. I saw the sign, but that’s not why I’m here.” She saw my reaction and held up one hand. “Please, let me explain.” She was silent for a moment as she looked past me into the living room where the dark wood paneling gleamed from my scrubbing, and a cold, cream marble fireplace dominated the east wall. “I see the crack in the fireplace hasn’t been repaired.”
    “You know the house?” I asked.
    “Yes, I lived here in 1937.” Her breath heaved, and her shoulders lifted and fell twice before she continued. “This is where my mother was killed by my father when I was six years old.” I gasped. She looked up at me with blue eyes opaque as a cloudy sky “I just wanted to see it one more time before I die.” She lifted a hand and pointed with knobby knuckles into the living room. “That crack in the fireplace, I put it there. After he strangled her, I took his sledge hammer from the tool room and tried to kill him. It was too heavy for me, and I hit edge of the hearth instead. He stared at me, not afraid in the least. He didn’t scold me, or yell, or hit me. He just stared as if I was a puzzle to him. Then he walked into the family room, took his pistol from his desk and shot himself.”
    I shuddered, but said, “Please, come in.”

    • douglangille says:

      Man, this has been a violent week of stories! Another good one.

      • swatchcat says:

        Maybe possibly venting? This was a nice. If anything, and others could help me with this, I did loose some of the conversation within the paragraphs. There is a lot of space to play with this story too. At BrainPickings.com there is a blip from “The adverb is not your friend: Stephen King on Simplicity of Style.” I gleaned a cool tidbit from that regarding quotes. Anyone could take a peak at it. Good job.

        • smallster21 says:

          Love Stephen King! His book “On Writing” is one of the best writing books I’ve ever read. Highly recommend it. He is so witty, honest and doesn’t give a shit about what anyone thinks of him. The struggles he faced growing up and what he’s overcome are really inspirational. And, he definitely mentions adverb usage in the book.

        • Cin5456 says:

          I find it odd that you comment on adverbs with my story since I have 3, loosely -once, and just -twice. Yet some of the stories in this thread have 10 or more adverbs in them. Why choose my story to make that point when its adverb count is insignificant compared to others? I was already aware that adverbs are not acceptable, which is why you don’t see them in abundance in my writing. I suggest making that comment with a story that violates that rule more blatantly.

    • smallster21 says:

      Oh, lord, that was intense. Good job.

  21. Cin5456 says:

    Fragile Marble

    Before answering the doorbell I straightened the throw pillows, and picked up my son’s backpack. I tossed it in the foyer closet and opened the door. A tiny woman pulled the edge of a black wool scarf back from her eyes as a gust of Santa Anna wind blew sand in my face. She rocked forward with the force at her back.
    “Hello.” I stretched to see the driveway, expecting a family to come spilling out of a minivan behind her. No car idled in the driveway, or at the curb.
    “I saw your sign, and wondered if I could look around.” Her timid voice scratched at my nerves.
    “Certainly,” I said, thinking about the basket full of ironing that awaited my attention. At least the rest of the laundry was done. As I stepped aside, the woman shuffled arthritic legs over the threshold. Her shoes had heavy, thick soles that the ankle length black dress did not cover. She grasped the door frame to lift her trailing leg over high stoop. When I had closed out the wind, she lowered the wool scarf from thick black hair shot with silver streaks. It was pulled loosely into a thick braid, with stray hairs spiking like a punker’s from static electricity. A brief smile creased her cheeks; cataracts concealed her thoughts.
    “Are you interested in buying for your family?” I asked. I had not expected a buyer her age, alone, no car, and no family backing her up.
    “No. I’m sorry, but I’m not here to buy your house. I saw the sign, but that’s not why I’m here.” She saw my reaction and held up one hand. “Please, let me explain.” She was silent for a moment as she looked past me into the living room where the dark wood paneling gleamed from my scrubbing, and a cold, cream marble fireplace dominated the east wall. “I see the crack in the fireplace hasn’t been repaired.”
    “You know the house?” I asked.
    “Yes, I lived here in 1937.” Her breath heaved, and her shoulders lifted and fell twice before she continued. “This is where my mother was killed by my father when I was six years old.” I gasped. She looked up at me with blue eyes opaque as a cloudy sky “I just wanted to see it one more time before I die.” She lifted a hand and pointed with knobby knuckles into the living room. “That crack in the fireplace, I put it there. After he strangled her, I took his sledge hammer from the tool room and tried to kill him. It was too heavy for me, and I hit edge of the hearth instead. He stared at me, not afraid in the least. He didn’t scold me, or yell, or hit me. He just stared as if I was a puzzle to him. Then he walked into the family room, took his pistol from his desk and shot himself.”
    I shuddered, but said, “Please, come in.”

  22. Kerry Charlton says:

    “MARGARET’S HOUSE”

    Brian Bentley didn’t believe in real estate agents. In his seventies, he had decided forty years was long enough to live in his house. It wasn’t an hour after placing his “For Sale By Owner” sign, the doorbell rang. The small woman standing on his porch, appeared older than he. Even so, she resembled a beautiful child, dressed as an old hag.
    “My name is Margaret,” she said. “I don’t mean to be a bother to you, but I spent my early childhood in your home.”
    “By all means, come inside Margaret. I’m Brian Bentley. You must have many memories here.
    “You don’t understand Mr. Bemtley. I never left this house.”
    “Surely you jest, Margaret. We’ve lived here since the late sixties.”
    She shouted out in desperation,
    “I cried out for someone to save me, but no one came to help me. Nobody ever cared about me. ‘I was a bother,’ Mother said.”
    Tears flowed from the old woman’s face. As they ran down her cheeks, she slowly revolved into a child with flashing, hazel eyes, blonde hair set in pigtails, dressed in a tattered gingham dress; her face producing more tears than before.
    Brian fell to one knee, placing his arms around the little girl, trying to comfort her. Her tears traveled to Brian’s knee, splashing his clothes. Droplets turned to a bright crimson hue. The color of blood, they were.
    Margaret placed her small hand in Brian’s, leading him into his home, through the entry into the living room. He felt himself falling backwards through time.
    “No one has ever cared about me or believed in my soul,” Margaret said.
    “I care for you and I believe you,” Brian whispered to her. He gathered her to his chest as she pointed to the firebox beside the old, stone fireplace.
    “What is it you’re trying to tell me?”
    “Behing it,” she screamed. “Behind it.”
    “Margaret faded before Brian’s eyes. Weight from his carrying her, ceased. He stumbled to an easy chair, his eyes rivited upon the firebox. It appeared too shallow to ever be used to store firewood in. For years Brian had placed flowers outside the firebox, only changing them as the seasons wore on, year after year.
    Brian’s wife, Alice entered the living room from the back of the house.
    “Why are you sobbing sweetheart? Who came to our front door?”
    “Margaret.”
    “Who is Margaret, honey?”
    “I’m about to find out. Move the flowers out of the firebox.”

  23. smallster21 says:

    The ticking of the clock filled the silence as Sadie smiled awkwardly at the woman sitting across from her. She said her name was Ruby. Why does that sound familiar?

    “More tea?” Sadie asked as she went to the stove and refilled her own cup. An innate sadness circled Ruby’s eyes as she surveyed her and declined. “Would you like to see the upstairs?”

    “You don’t have time.”

    “Of course I have time. I have the day off from work.”

    Ruby drummed her fingers on the tabletop. Her stare made Sadie fidget in her chair. “The basement. I’d like to see the basement.” Sadie hesitated but led the way. The basement was actually a cellar, damp, dirt floors, musty.

    Sadie shivered as the light from the overhanging lamp bounced upon the grey stones around them. “Would you like to see the upstairs now?” she asked hopefully.

    Ruby waved her hand around the basement. “This is all that is left of the fire.”

    “Fire?” Sadie frowned. “Look, I can show you the inspection report. Good pipes, efficient wiring, strong oak structure…okay, I admit, there might be a bit of a mold problem in the attic.” Ruby furrowed her eyebrows and shook her head. “I can show you. It really isn’t bad.” Sadie smiled as Ruby acquiesced with a silent, slow deliberate nod and led the way back upstairs.

    When she opened the door, she went blind, her eyes burning, her airways begging for air. She coughed a few times as the smoke cleared. “What? Wha…” Sadie stuttered as her throat jumped causing her voice box to vibrate with fear. There were ashes all around her and charred oak beams lay where, just moments ago, they were having tea.

    “It’s time to go.”

    “Go where?” Sadie looked at Ruby as her eyes widened. “Mom?”

    “Yes, dear. You’re dead. It was the fire.”

    “No,” Sadie exhaled as she started to run but tripped and fell. She hugged her shoulders but winced in pain and looked down at her raw, exposed skin.

    “Honey, will you stop this now.”

    “Chris?” Sadie stood up and stumbled over the piles of ash. Sadie grabbed her hair in frustration, but winced, her hair was not there.

    “He wasn’t here. You were alone.”

    Shock invaded her mind as tears burnt the surface of her charred face and she remembered. The stove. She had left it on this morning. Her limbs collapsed atop the extinguished flames and put her face in her hands.

    “Sadie, please come now.”

    “No. No! Noooooo!” Sadie woke up screaming. She felt her head, her hair was there, she looked down and saw the pale skin of her arms covered in goose bumps, she sighed and laid back down burying her head in the pillow. She grabbed a glass of water by her bed and downed a Trazodone. She felt her body relax and she fell asleep.

    Ruby waited downstairs unable to intervene; just sat with her cup of tea staring at the stove.

  24. I was heading down to Texas, leavin’ Alaska, “these here parts” to try the South and all the trucks were packed. I’d closed the previous day, yes a celebration was in store and a going away party to boot!

    Thus, as I grabbed the keys and took what I thought was my final look around, I heard a voice.
    “I’ll be glad to take this place off your hands.”

    I felt my heart race. The old woman and her two autistic charges where coming down the steps, ready with bags in hand to move in.
    “It’s a crying shame what happened during the ’64 quake; them boys perishing under the rubble like that-not even accounted for, all because this was a home for troubled boys and we didn’t participate in the census!
    Well, were going to put those boys to rest now, don’t you worry Missy.”
    As I stepped out the door, I allowed them in along with the priest who’d mysteriously just showed up.
    I looked at my past, ever so metaphorically; a priest chanting, moving about the living room, autistic people flailing incense sticks and gibbering nonsensically, whilst the old lady, already at home, went about the business of baking cookies …..

  25. danpetreikis says:

    “Honey, can you get the door?” Jenny called from the kitchen as I came down the stairs. The nausea and headaches had only gotten worse and today was particularly bad. I held onto the railing as I moved, careful for the step – the third one from the bottom, the one that always creaked and shifted no matter what we did. Even Old Man Griffiths, the town handyman, had come and have a look at it. He looked in the closet under the stairs, hammered a bit, then proclaimed the stairs safe to use, if a bit noisy, before excusing himself. Wiping the sweat from his forehead, he muttered something about forgetting another job he had to do that afternoon before he hurried off.
    I stepped onto the third step, felt my weight settle and the boards seemed to twist… just a bit… but enough to be noticeable. I paused, caught my breath and stepped into the living room to answer the door.
    The heavy wooden door swung open with a slight squeak, revealing an elderly woman on the other side. She seemed almost impossibly old, her skin pale and craggy beneath a slight fringe of snow-white hair carefully posed and polished atop her frail head. A thin frock hung lightly from her bony shoulders and her arms were folded trimly in front of her. She smiled as I unlatched the storm door and invited her inside.
    “I’m here about the house,” she said. Her voice surprised me. Deep and smoky, it seemed in sharp contrast to her otherwise fragile appearance. Her hand – outstretched to me in a polite gesture – felt cold in my fingers, and her eyes seemed deep and dark behind the wire-framed glasses that rested lightly on the bridge of her nose.
    “Are you interested in buying it?” I asked. Jenny and I had just listed it that very day. The three years we had lived there had been filled with uneasiness, and the thought of moving filled me with relief.
    “No,” the lady said. “I’m terribly sorry, but I’m not in the market.” She flashed a shrewd but brief smile. “In fact, I’ve already lived in this house, though that was many years ago.” She looked around the room, her eyes resting on the staircase. “I just wanted to have one more look before… “ her voice trailed off as her gaze steadied on the third stair.
    I paused, waiting for her to finish, when suddenly her eyes locked onto mine. She leaned in close, hoarsely whispering,” You must get out. NOW! While there’s still time, you must… “ she glanced at the stairs again, her hands trembling.
    “I’ll get you something to drink.” I said, as I turned toward the kitchen.
    “The headaches.. .the nausea… they’ll only get worse….” Her voice rang in my ears.
    I stopped and spun around to find myself standing alone in the empty room, then reached for the bannister as my stomach twisted in on itself again…

  26. Novic says:

    With utter annoyance i sprang up shoving backwards the chair i was sitting on.I seriously was not enamoured of late calls.What urgent news would oblige somebody to call at 6:30pm?It better be about the house,i murmerd angrily to myself as i made a bee -line for the front door ,leaving,just for that brief moment,my laptop atop the wooden desk.

    ”Yes”? I said having opened the door
    ”Hi,son”,an old meaty woman greeted politely.Her brown eyes looked up straight into mine from the round,swollen face.Her skull,i noticed,was cloaked in a fish-scale stricken skin and her height reasonably constrained her to raise her stare in order to catch sight of my elevated face.

    ”Evening ma’am” i said dubiously sweeping my eyes down onto the bulky russet bag she kept tight grip on.
    ”May i come in?”.
    Understandingly i stepped aside giving her room to enter,after which i swiftly shut the door and led her into the living room.I waved her to a couch and strolled towards the desk on which the laptop sat glaring.Several punches of a few keys switched it off and then i rejoined my guest.

    ”I’m Mrs Dlamini”,she said with a faint smile which allowed view of yellowish rows of teeth.I looked at her,silent,from the opposite settee.
    ”Um”,she hesitated,’i heard you were selling up the house”
    ”Yes that’s true”,i confirmed concurrently wondering where she was going with this.She didn’t look a prospective buyer.She was silent.”You interested?”,i asked with a grin.
    ”Not really son”,she sounded grim.But why would she bring up the house thing if she weren’t interested in buying it? I secretly ask myself.

    ”Okay ma’am”.i began,now plagued with a feeling of worry,”mind tellin’ me what’s goin’ on here?”
    ”Sure-”,but mighty cough cut her short.She coughed for some time then,diplomatically,she rammed a closed hand into her chest and the coughing ebbed and ultimately halted miraculously.She cleared her throat triumphantly and resumed to what she wanted to say.”I’ve got to tell you something about this house”,she said with a now clear voice.
    Interested,i set bolt upright with my ears pricking up at the sound of this

    ”Long ago whilst i was in my teens i used to live and was also a servant here”,she said.I nodded silently.”Used to be a cook,the house was lived in by a Mr Hitler”.she was quiet and after some stretched seconds she continued,”You know ‘im”?
    I shook my head.The only Hitler i knew of or rather everybody knew of,was the Jew slayer of whom according to several books’ accounts died in 1945 after Germany had been defeated in the war.That’s the sole infamous Adolf Hitler i knew!

    ”You never heard of Hitler?”,she asked with a note of perplexity
    ”I only know Adolf ma’am”
    ”That’s the one!”, she blurted.
    ”What about him,again?”,i asked,incredulous.”This used to be his lair”
    ”This very house you mean?”,my question was acid.How could she expect me to believe such witless figment of her imagination? Old age can play you tricks sometimes.She nodded slowly at my query with shut eyes.I giggled mockingly at the guff,then i said,”this is Southern Africa remember?didn’t Hitler give up the ghost in Europe or something? you could have fooled me!”
    ”If you knew ya history books only too well you’d recall that his demise was rather ambigous,it is not positively stated what real happened to Hi-Mr Hitler”,she corrected herself,”after the war”.

    A momentary reflection affirmed the correctness of her point.It really was never disclosed whether Hitler died or not.I listened on at the cogent iron-clad evidence and points she made ,of which left me with no choice but to subscribe to her story.
    ”What’s that”,i finally asked pointing a finger at the bag laying immobile biside her feet.”In here are some of the things he used to possess,i figured it would be wise to bring all the stuff with me”,she said unzipping the bag.
    “Oh one last thing son”, she said hurling across a bandana with the famous Nazi emblem on it.”What’s that?” i asked.
    ”As we speak Mr Hitler’s remains lie six feet down from under that couch you’re sank on!”

    • smallster21 says:

      Didn’t Hitler commit suicide in Berlin? Though there are the conspiracy theories, so it is an interesting idea to turn that into a story. But, this needs cleaned up. Punctuation and capitalization. Also, I think it would benefit from establishing the setting at the beginning. Somehow indicate they are in South Africa, something he says, thinks or sees.

    • douglangille says:

      Sounds like a dare: in your next story prompt, regardless of the topic, feature Hitler prominently.

  27. The old woman at the door was not the type I expected to buy our house. Her dishevelled gray hair fluttered in the breeze and her wire-rimmed glasses were held together with dirty adhesive tape. A moth-eaten gray sweater hung crookedly on her bony frame, despite the sunny June afternoon.
    “May I help you?”
    Her dull blue eyes didn’t seem to focus.
    “Ma’am?”
    “Oh! Forgive me…” Her purplish lips formed a smile. “I must’ve been daydreaming. I saw the ad for your house in today’s paper.”
    “Yes, we just placed it on the market, but we really need an appointment―”
    “No, no!” she laughed, brushing back a wisp of hair. “I just wanted to see it one more time. I lived here as a child, you see. My name is Gretchen. Gretchen Moeller.” Her German accent was apparent.
    “Well, I―”
    Her smile broadened. She placed a thin, large-knuckled hand on mine. “I realize this is an imposition, but I have no telephone, and my bus to the market passes right by here. I hoped you wouldn’t mind.”
    How could I resist? The house wasn’t ready for showing, but she wasn’t buying. “Where would you like to start? The living room?”
    “Actually,” she said, “I’d like to see the patio.”
    “Really?”
    She turned to me with a penetrating stare. Her smile had disappeared.
    “Well, of course, but there’s nothing remarkable…” She had already hobbled through the entry hall and turned into the dining room. By the time I caught up with her, she was opening the glass-panel door to our patio. “Be careful!” I shouted. “There’s a big step.”
    But she had already negotiated it. Standing on the concrete pad of the patio, she turned her head slowly to take in the scene until she came to the green Adirondack chair, facing the backyard. She clapped her hands and nodded her head energetically. “Ja! Ja! Just as I remembered it!” she exclaimed.
    “What?”
    “The chair. It was Heidi’s, my sister’s. May I sit in it?” She didn’t even turn to acknowledge my presence. Her eyes seemed riveted to that emerald green chair.
    “Well, of course. The previous owners left it here,” I said. “They told me it was left behind by the family before them. It didn’t fit the rest of our patio furniture, but it was solid and comfortable, so I just kept on painting it.”
    Gretchen settled gingerly, as if it were some sort of relic. Finally noticing my perplexed expression, she raised the right sleeve of her sweater to reveal a black seven-digit number tattooed into the sagging skin.
    “Heidi and I were twins,” she said. “Inmates at Auschwitz. Dr. Mengele injected us both with the bacillus, but Heidi got tuberculosis. After the war, the Ryans adopted us and brought us here. They tried everything, but Heidi died here, in this chair…on a beautiful afternoon like this. So long ago. So long.”
    Half an hour later, she was gone. The coroner ruled diabetic coma, but I doubt it.

  28. I heard a soft rap on the door and went to investigate. On the other side of the door was a little old lady, with tears streaming down her face. “Come in, please” I say, slightly uncomfortable with the lady’s tears. She hobbles in the door.
    “It looks the same, I can still feel her presence here” She said.
    “I hope you don’t mind, but what happened, and who is she?” I asked with fear creeping in.
    The lady sinks into my couch, seeming to be lost in another world, the world of her own creation. The starts speaking, as if telling an ancient tale, from a long ago time.
    “It was 45 years ago, when I was 30. Me and my husband had just moved in here. It was our dream home. We were living a fairy tale. All we needed was a white picket fence and a golden retriever, oh and children. We both wanted many children, running in the yard and wreaking beautiful havoc on our lives. It was only a short year later that we had our first. Her name was Jessie, and she was beautiful. She had the deepest blue eyes and the most gorgeous hair, like silk. She grew up so fast. Everything was perfect, but like all things, the perfection shattered.” She pauses to catch her breaths. The deepest sobs wrack her frail body. I fetch her a glass of water, but she waves me away. Falling back into her trance, she starts speaking once again. “Jessie was 4 when it all started. She was more tired than usual, not putting up a fight at nap time. She ate less and less. She constantly said she hurt somewhere, everywhere, but nothing seemed to help. After a month of this, we took her to a doctor. I knew we should have taken her sooner, but Jason never listened. The doctor was stumped. Antibiotics is all we got. So I took her to the hospital. They did test after test, xray after xray, but found nothing. It was in an MRI that we finaly got our answers. The thing about answers are, sometimes they are a blessing, and sometimes they are a curse. This was both. We got our answer and our curse. Jessie, it turns out, had a brain tumor, it was unknown if it was cancerous. Nonetheless, the doctor said her chances were grave. That is such a bad phrase, our chances are grave, meaning they are dead. Very dark, when speaking about my child. He said they could try to delay, but not beat this thing hurting my baby. She was a trooper, though. The medicines made her throw up, made her swell, made her frail. We watched her slowly wither away, helpless. One day, we realized we only had one or two more days. Our time together was ending. She wanted to be at home when she, and i quote, ‘Could fly with the planes and watch over you and daddy’. So the doctors released her with a nurse to stay until the end. We read her all the princess books over and over, until she fell asleep that night. It was around 2 A.M. when the nurse said we only had an hour or so. We gathered around her pink covered bed, me on her left side, Jason on her right. Both of us griping her hands so hard, it probably hurt her, but not as much as our hearts hurt. I looked her in the eye, and sang to her, her favorite lulaby. As she slowly closed her eyes, I still sang softly, ‘As you close your eyes and drift to sleep, instead of counting silly sheep, think of the stars and the moon in the sky. Don’t be scared, don’t you cry…..’ Just then, her eyes shut and her breathing slowed. I watched the life float out of her body, my baby, my gift from heaven….” As she stopped talking, I collapsed onto the ground, with tears flowing freely, not remembering when I started or how to stop. I can’t sell this house, I need to keep it for this lady. “Son, please keep my daughter’s spirit alive. Don’t sell this house. Who knows what the next owners will do. I knew you were the type of person to preserve an old home like this, I’m not so sure others will be the same.” The old lady pleaded to me with, not only her voice and eyes, but with her whole soul. I decided then and there that I would never sell this house.

    The old lady, as she was leaving sang, “As you close your eyes and drift to sleep, instead of counting silly sheep, think of the stars and the moon in the sky. Don’t be scared, don’t you cry…..”

  29. The old woman at the door was not the type I expected to buy our house. Her dishevelled gray hair fluttered in the breeze and her wire-rimmed glasses were held together with dirty adhesive tape. A moth-eaten gray sweater hung crookedly on her bony frame, despite the sunny June afternoon.
    “May I help you?”
    Her dull blue eyes didn’t seem to focus.
    “Ma’am?”
    “Oh! Forgive me…” Her purplish lips formed a smile. “I must’ve been daydreaming. I saw the ad for your house in today’s paper.”
    “Yes, we just placed it on the market, but we really need an appointment―”
    “No, no!” she laughed, brushing back a wisp of hair. “I just wanted to see it one more time. I lived here as a child, you see. My name is Gretchen. Gretchen Moeller.” Her German accent was apparent.
    “Well, I―”
    Her smile broadened and she placed a thin, large-knuckled hand on mine. “I realize this is an imposition, but I have no telephone, and my bus to the market passes right by here. I hoped you wouldn’t mind.”
    How could I resist? The house wasn’t ready for showing, but she wasn’t buying. “Where would you like to start? The living room?”
    “Actually,” she said, “I’d like to see the patio.”
    “Really?”
    She turned to me with a penetrating stare. Her smile had disappeared.
    “Well, of course, but there’s nothing remarkable…” She had already hobbled through the entry hall and turned into the dining room. By the time I caught up with her, she was opening the glass-panel door to our patio. “Be careful!” I shouted. “There’s a big step.”
    But she had already negotiated it. Standing on the concrete pad of the patio, she turned her head slowly to take in the scene until she came to the green Adirondack chair, facing the backyard. She clapped her hands and nodded her head energetically. “Ja! Ja! Just as I remembered it!” she exclaimed.
    “What?”
    “The chair. It was Heidi’s, my sister’s. May I sit in it?” She hadn’t even turned to acknowledge my presence. Her eyes seemed riveted to that emerald green chair.
    “Well, of course. The previous owners left it here,” I said. “They told me it was left behind by the family before them. It didn’t fit the rest of our patio furniture, but it was solid and comfortable, so I just kept on painting it.”
    Gretchen settled into the chair gingerly, as if it were some sort of relic. Finally noticing my perplexed expression, she raised the right sleeve of her sweater to reveal a black seven-digit number, tattooed into the sagging skin.
    “Heidi and I were twins,” she said. “Inmates at Auschwitz. Dr. Mengele injected us both with the bacillus, but Heidi…got tuberculosis. After the war, the Ryans adopted us and brought us here. They tried everything, but Heidi died here…in this chair…on a beautiful afternoon like this. So long ago. So long.”
    She looked up with plaintive eyes. “I’m so tired. May I sit here awhile?”

  30. ShawnJohnson78 says:

    The House on the Corner
    “So this is it, huh? We’re doing this” He said it as a question out loud but more as a reassurance to himself, a mantra if you will.
    “It won’t be so bad, James” his wife said. “We’ve been through worse, I think” She had taken to trying to convince herself too, but he was taking it pretty bad. “And we don’t have kids so there’s that blessing” It was her attempt at comfort. They hadn’t wanted kids, or at least she didn’t want them, but he wanted her so he took it as a win-lose situation that was, in the end, completely worth the trade. So he had taken to telling her that he didn’t want them either. She didn’t know that it cut him when she said it, especially as a joke. The current situation just compounded his feeling of failure with a feeling inadequacy.
    “Patty, not now…please” He suffered through saying it; so many emotions ricocheting off one another with anger seeming to be the correct one to show.
    She ran her hand through his hair then caressed his face. “It not the end”
    There was a knock on the door, the first of many. And so it began. A long day of strangers dissecting James and Patty’s idea of value placed on memories that weren’t finished being made. Smiling at each one; despising each one. Towards the end of the day there was a shallow knock on the door as though it didn’t want to be heard. Patty opened it with what little she had left in reserve and what greeted her on the other side was a tired looking lady in her late 70’s. Her dress was shabby and her hair unkempt under a bonnet that had seen better days many years ago. Patty went through the standard pleasantries she had rehearsed and practiced all day. The old lady brushed her off and shifted ever so slightly back and forth as if her body was more prepared to do what her mind was still indecisive about. Patty invited her in; James didn’t bother getting up from his chair. The disheveled lady introduced herself as Maryrose, James snickered at this but either she didn’t notice or ignored it. “I’m not here for the sale” Maryrose said “I wouldn’t pay any price for this house. James stood up and, at wits end, shouted “Excuse me. Our home isn’t good enough?”
    “I didn’t mean to upset you” Maryrose said, slightly taken aback at the threatening tone in James voice. “What I meant was I lived here as a child. Her hands were shaking slightly, from fear or excitement, maybe just age. “My father built this house with his own two hands.” James fought the urge to criticize her knowledge of carpentry; children believe big, adults fail big, he was proof of this. “Be grateful that you are leaving this place. No child should live in this house of atrocity. Dark things happened here.”

  31. Kerry Charlton says:

    “Margaret’s House”

    Brian Bentley didn’t believe in real estate agents. In his seventies, he had decided forty years was long enough to live in his house. It wasn’t an hour after placing his “For Sale” sign, the doorbell rang. The little woman standing on his porch, appeared older than he. Even so, she resembled a beautiful child dressed as an old hag.
    “My name is Margaret,” she said. “I don’t mean to be a bother to you, but I spent my early childhood in your house.”
    “By all means Margaret, come in. I’m sure you have many memories here”
    “You don’t understand sir. I never left this house.”
    “Surely you jest, Margaret. I’ve lived here since the sixties.”
    She shouted in a desperate voice,
    “I cried out for someone to save me but no one came to help. Nobody ever tried helping. Mother said I was a bother to her.”
    Tears flowed from the old woman’s face. As they ran down her cheeks, she slowly revolved into a child with dancing, hazel eyes, blonde hair set in pigtails, dressed in a ragged gingham dress; her face still wet with tears.
    Brian fell to one knee, placing his arms around the little girl, trying to comfort her. Her tears continued to fall, traveling to Brian’s knee. The tears splashing on his clothes, turned a bright crimson hue. The color of blood they were.
    Margaret placed her small hand in Brian’s, heading toward the living room with him in tow. Brian felt as if he were falling back in time.
    “No one has ever cared for me or believed in me,” Margaret said.
    “I will,” Brian said. He gathered her up in his arms as she pointed to the firebox sitting beside the old stone fireplace.
    “What is it you’re trying to tell me?” Brian asked.
    “Behind it,” she screamed. “Behind It.”
    Margaret faded before Brian’s eyes for he no longer felt her in his arms. He stumbled to a chair placed beside the fire place; his eyes rivited on the fire box. It appeared too shallow to stock fire wood in. Brian kept flowers in front of the box, changing colors to match the seasons.
    Brian’s wife, Alice walked into the living room from the back section of the house.
    “Who was at the door, honey?”
    “Margaret,” he said.
    “Who is Margaret?”
    “I’m about to find out. Move the flowers away from the fire box.”

  32. margi33 says:

    My tongue was paralyzed. I stared down at my glass of iced tea, only now becoming aware that my pants were soaked through with condensation.

    As I came back to reality, I met Magda’s eye and said “Thank you so much Magda. I cannot tell you how glad I am that you walked up to my door today and shared your story with me.”

    Magda, her eyes soft and kind replied, “Honey, just promise me you will take the measures I told you about.”

    “Oh, don’t you worry about that,” I said.

    Magda shuffled toward the open door, her hand trembling as she clutched her cane. “Bye dear. You take care of yourself,” she said as she walked out of my life as quickly as she had come in.

    I just couldn’t believe that thirty minutes ago my life was somewhat normal, and now I felt as though my brain was twisted in some ungodly yoga move. Had Magda not come into my life, approaching my door at that moment, my family could have been dead or worse.

    The story Magda told me was ghastly, making my skin crawl right off the bone.

    She had grown up in this house. The very house I sat in now, that I was raising my family in.

    Here is her story as she told it to me:

    When I was a fourteen and my sister Analese was seven, things took a tragic turn. I was in charge of watching her in the evening while my father worked and my mother tended our baby brother. Analese had been having nightmares, so she was fighting me about going to bed. I managed to get her to bed despite her tantrums, and told her in my most concerned sisterly voice that everything would be fine.

    In the middle of the night, I heard Analese scream. It was the type of scream that pierced through your soul and stopped your heart with fear. I ran, my parents ran, we all joined in the hall. We looked like pinballs, hurling ourselves in every direction to reach her room. One of us flung open the door and we all stumbled in.

    Our little Analese was suspended in mid-air, hovering like a ghost. Her white gown was spattered with blood, shimmering like the brightest red poinsettia. There were no wounds except for two slight holes, placed with care on her neck.

    Coroners determined her death to be murder, but we all knew better.

    Then the unspeakable happened. On the day she was to be buried, there was no body. It had mysteriously disappeared.

    My mind flashed suddenly to all of the nightmares my five year old daughter had been experiencing. I spent countless hours telling her everything would be ok, bad dreams are normal, just close your eyes and go to sleep.

    All I could think of now was my daughters face, turned pale, neck dripping blood.

    God, I prayed, please let this house sell, and fast.

  33. I heard a soft rap on the door and went to investigate. On the other side of the door was a little old lady, with tears streaming down her face. “Come in, please” I say, slightly uncomfortable with the lady’s tears. She hobbles in the door.
    “It looks the same, I can still feel her presence here” She said.
    “I hope you don’t mind, but what happened, and who is she?” I asked with fear creeping in.
    The lady sinks into my couch, seeming to be lost in another world, the world of her own creation. The starts speaking, as if telling an ancient tale, from a long ago time.
    “It was 45 years ago, when I was 30. Me and my husband had just moved in here. It was our dream home. We were living a fairy tale. All we needed was a white picket fence and a golden retriever, oh and children. We both wanted many children, running in the yard and wreaking beautiful havoc on our lives. It was only a short year later that we had our first. Her name was Jessie, and she was beautiful. She had the deepest blue eyes and the most gorgeous hair, like silk. She grew up so fast. Everything was perfect, but like all things, the perfection shattered.” She pauses to catch her breaths. The deepest sobs wrack her frail body. I fetch her a glass of water, but she waves me away. Falling back into her trance, she starts speaking once again. “Jessie was 4 when it all started. She was more tired than usual, not putting up a fight at nap time. She ate less and less. She constantly said she hurt somewhere, everywhere, but nothing seemed to help. After a month of this, we took her to a doctor. I knew we should have taken her sooner, but Jason never listened. The doctor was stumped. Antibiotics is all we got. So I took her to the hospital. They did test after test, xray after xray, but found nothing. It was in an MRI that we finally got our answers. The thing about answers are, sometimes they are a blessing, and sometimes they are a curse. This was both. We got our answer and our curse. Jessie, it turns out, had a brain tumor, it was unknown if it was cancerous. Nonetheless, the doctor said her chances were grave. That is such a bad phrase, our chances are grave, meaning they are dead. Very dark, when speaking about my child. He said they could try to delay, but not beat this thing hurting my baby. She was a trooper, though. The medicines made her throw up, made her swell, made her frail. We watched her slowly wither away, helpless. One day, we realized we only had one or two more days. Our time together was ending. She wanted to be at home when she, and i quote, ‘Could fly with the planes and watch over you and daddy’. So the doctors released her with a nurse to stay until the end. We read her all the princess books over and over, until she fell asleep that night. It was around 2 A.M. when the nurse said we only had an hour or so. We gathered around her pink covered bed, me on her left side, Jason on her right. Both of us griping her hands so hard, it probably hurt her, but not as much as our hearts hurt. I looked her in the eye, and sang to her, her favorite lulaby. As she slowly closed her eyes, I still sang softly, ‘As you close your eyes and drift to sleep, instead of counting silly sheep, think of the stars and the moon in the sky. Don’t be scared, don’t you cry…..’ Just then, her eyes shut and her breathing slowed. I watched the life float out of her body, my baby, my gift from heaven….” As she stopped talking, I collapsed onto the ground, with tears flowing freely, not remembering when I started or how to stop. I can’t sell this house, I need to keep it for this lady. “Son, please keep my daughter’s spirit alive. Don’t sell this house. Who knows what the next owners will do. I knew you were the type of person to preserve an old home like this, I’m not so sure others will be the same.” The old lady pleaded to me with, not only her voice and eyes, but with her whole soul. I decided then and there that I would never sell this house.

    The old lady, as she was leaving sang, “As you close your eyes and drift to sleep, instead of counting silly sheep, think of the stars and the moon in the sky. Don’t be scared, don’t you cry…..”

  34. ReggieKee says:

    It was a shame that Deen hated the seemingly magnificent house. Indeed it was, for the the mansion was truly priceless, its ancient beauty preserved by the golden lining and its very size echoed its significance. Everything about it was perfect, with its grand dining hall, decorated by glittering chandeliers, and complete with its own little green front yard. Nevertheless, the aesthetic features did not create hesitation in Deen’s unrelenting hatred towards the mansion. Beautiful as it was, the mansion was his cage. He could not remember why but somehow he was bound to the mansion. Whenever Deen threw the front door open and bound towards the outer world, the green yard would abruptly expand, putting an infinite space between himself and freedom. The rule stated that if another’s blood may be spilled upon the mansion’s ground, Deen would be free. He did not know why, he simply knew.
    “So you’re interested in buying?” Deen thanked the hideously large for-sale sign he had hung up.
    A graying lady had entered the front yard, attracted by the sigh.
    “Frankly, I am surprised you’d putting such a beautiful thing up for sale,” The old lady chuckled. “But yes, I am very interested.”
    Deen smiled back. It was a shame that such kind blood had to be spilled.
    “Why don’t I show you it’s interior? Trust me when I say that you’ll be blown away.”
    “Oh, no, I would never,”
    Deen frowned.
    “I certainly don’t want my blood all over your marble floor,” The old lady smiled sweetly.
    The shock nearly sent Deen tumbling off his feet.
    “You’ve failed Deen. You failed in your previous life, and you’ve failed yet again. Rules may be rules but this is your burden to hold. This was merely a crucible to test whether you’d be willing to spill innocent blood for your own sake. You have not changed one bit.” The old lady shook her head in disappointment. “And for that, you will forever be bound to this house.”
    “No!” Deen was down on his knees, pleading. “I understand that I have failed and perhaps, I am worthy of the punishment. But I’ve spent eternity here, unknowing of my crime. Please, at least inform me; what was my sin that got me here?”
    The old lady leaned in and smiled sweetly, a mixture of disappointment and pity.
    “Your sin is that you cannot remember.”
    She stretching out a single finger and rested it on Deen’s forehead. Deen’s eyes witnessed a flash of white before the scene dissolved. And just like that, the cycle was complete, only to start again.

    It was a shame that Deen hated the seemingly magnificent house.

    • douglangille says:

      Great descriptions and a nice tight story.

    • handyman43127 says:

      I get lost with this story beginning with Deen thanked the hideously large for-sale sign he had hung up. Was it that the house was his captive or his past sins. This one seems to begin with the house and branch out into more ways than the reader can imagine reasonably. I like the idea you begin with but lose me along the way.

      • ReggieKee says:

        Thank you for the criticism! I do agree with you on the fact that it was quite confusing, it was a bit too . . . weird. As for your question, it was the house and his past sins. Again, thanks for commenting!

    • DMelde says:

      Hi ReggieKee,
      I like your story and the whole Groundhog’s Day take on the prompt, so I’m going to offer you my critique of your story, but please be mindful of the fact that I’m just beginning to understand how to frame a story, and I make a lot of mistakes when I write.
      To make the story stronger (in my opinion) I would begin it with Deen squishing a bug with his shoe because it had crossed over the boundary, thereby foreshadowing the “squishing” he would do to the old lady. (This gives me insight into what kind of a man Deen is.) It would it go something like this –
      **Deen looked down, pleasantly surprised that a bug had crossed over the boundary and smiled as he crushed it beneath his shoe. When he looked up he was even more surprised to see an old lady standing in his yard looking at his hideously large for-sale sign. Bless you sign, Deen thought, for bringing her to me; her blood will do nicely.**
      (rough draft, sorry)
      Then in the second paragraph go into the explanation of why he needs her blood and what the boundary is. Let me, the reader, play detective in trying to figure it out while you lead me down the story’s path. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, your story’s paragraphs are reversed with the explanation coming first, before a question is framed in the reader’s mind.
      I hope this makes sense.
      Great story! Thanks for sharing. :)

      • ReggieKee says:

        Wow! Thanks for the feedback! I really like the idea of using the bug to foreshadow the old woman’s ‘demise’. And you’re right, I should have reoriented the order of my paragraph to stir up even more suspense.
        I hope you don’t mind me saying but that was an awesome critique! :) Thanks!

    • smallster21 says:

      Interesting concept. Only problem is he is doomed to repeat this sequence over and over and over. How can he change if he cannot learn? His memory is cleared. There is nothing to break the cycle. Unless, it remains in his subconscious, then that would make sense. What did he do in his past life I wander? But since it’s from his point of view, we can’t know that, and it helps with giving the reader his sense of frustration, because they feel it too. I liked it very much.

      • ReggieKee says:

        Thank you! :D I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      • ReggieKee says:

        Thank you! :D I’m glad you enjoyed it! The cycle may change or even be broken according to the actions of Deen. However, each time as the cycle starts yet again, Deen commits the same mistake. Therefore, he is stuck in this perpetual, unchanging cycle which is very much his own version of hell.

  35. MCKEVIN says:

    I opened the front door and saw the bluest eyes, the whitest hair on the sweetest looking grandmother. Angelic face and carried a black intricately carved cane. She looked so sweet I invited her in.
    “You want to look around?”
    “May I?”
    I descended the stairs to help her and wondered why her family would let her wander. She stopped, caught her breath and stared at the gold address plate.
    “I lived here as I child, played hopscotch on these stairs and raised my only child here. May I see the kitchen?”
    Her request made me long for my NaNa as we entered the front door. She hobbled to the kitchen using the clawed cane for leverage.
    “You married?”
    “Kind of widowed.”
    I wasn’t sure she’d heard me.
    “You’ve changed the place haven’t you?”
    “I remod-“
    “You shouldn’t done that!”
    “What?”
    She pointed, using her cane, to a corner.
    “A white Kenmore refrigerator stood there and the Montgomery Wards stove was over here.”
    Hypnotically, gazing at the revolving blades on the ceiling fan, her presence was uncomfortable.
    “I-“
    “I murdered my daughter’s husband right where you’re standing! (pause…) I blew his head out with a sawed off shotgun and splattered his brains on the stove, refrigerator and ceiling.”
    Her eyes, now soulless, grayed.
    “Why?”
    “He divorced my daughter as she laid in coma. She died the day the divorce was finalized. He put me in assisted living, then he moved you in. The same day we buried her!”
    I needed her out because I realized she killed my ex.
    “You have to leave-…“
    “County recently released me for his murder. Years of my life gone! You two took my daughter, but I’ll be damned if you take my house!”
    I pulled my phone from my pocket and she whacked my hands with the cane as I dialed 911. She raised the cane again and again lashing me across the face and chest. Blood ran from my temple and hands as I tried to grab the cane and block her blows. She repeatedly swung as I stumbled to the floor in shock. I kicked, cussed and screamed but she wouldn’t let up. I’d gotten to my knees, when she started throwing small appliances off the counters at me. I rushed her as she blocked the doorway and grabbed the cane just after she’d gashed my eye. Jagged teeth bit my arm as we wrestled to the dining room. The harder she bit, the harder I pounded her face with my fists. I heard sirens as we knocked over glass tables and metal chairs. I broke loose and stood up, but she’d latched onto my leg, biting like a rabid dog. I heard footsteps climbing the front stairs. I’d raised the cane to get a solid hit, hoping to stop her, that’s when the police with their guns drawn appeared.
    “Stop! Don’t do it!”
    “You don’t understand!”
    “Sir, put your weapon down!”
    “They killed my daughter!”
    “She killed-….”
    “This old lady? C’mon!”

    • DMelde says:

      Wow! Big fight. I loved it. I imagine her cane had one of those clubs on the end of it, maybe with a razor edge on one side. You put energy into the story with sayings like “…biting like a rabid dog.” Great job.

      • swatchcat says:

        The premise of the story is very good. The transformation of the “angelic face” to the horrible being is done so smoothly that I almost got lost. She slide into this twisted woman so fast that I wondered how gray and old she really was. My only quandary is whether the quotes needed ownership(who said what). As I read it I sort of got it but in your closing with the police, sorry I’m a little lost. What the police can’t believe his accusation of the old lady?Good but too many questions.

    • smallster21 says:

      Is this a magic cane? How is this little old lady beating the crap out of this grown man? Haha! Love the intensity. “I blew his head out with a sawed off shotgun and splattered his brains on the stove…” Not really funny, but the dialogue is intense, and hearing it from this seemingly sweet little old lady is a nice twist, I can see her face as she says this to him.

      Though I don’t think she would come out so quickly, I agree with swatchcat, it seemed a little forced. But, I see the sense in doing that. 500 words. You want to set up the story and get to the good stuff. Because the fight scene was kickass! Good execution there. But, if you turned this into a longer story, spend more time developing the tension, so the change isn’t so sudden.

      I was also confused at the end with the dialogue. More than two speakers need dialogue tags.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      If you would like to know what happens next, scroll to the top to see the next chapter. Thanks again for stopping by and taking time to read and comment on my story…

  36. Ira says:

    She came to the house hours before the first “open house” was scheduled to begin at noon. She extended her crooked, boney finger to the door bell, pressed and anxiously waited for an answer. I came downstairs to answer the door, hair tustled from a restless night’s sleep, in my green and white seersucker bathrobe. It was July 10, 1995 and my life would never be the same.
    “Yes? Hi. Can I help you? “ I asked curiously, not really understanding what a woman of her advanced years would have any interest in my 150 year old colonial house.
    I could tell that she was very nervous and uncomfortable being at my front door. She trembled as she searched for the words to answer me.
    “My name is Priscilla McManus,” she said sheepishly with a forced pleasant grin. I was able to see smudge marks of red lipstick on her teeth. Mrs. McManus was dressed very well and meticulously clean. She wore a black skirt and white blouse with a black, light jacket. Her short, thin, straight hair was as white as a bushel of fresh cotton. “I’m sorry to bother you so early in the morning. But would it be okay if I took a look around your house?”
    “The open house doesn’t begin for another several hours. Can you come back?” I replied.
    “Oh, I’m not here for the open house. I used to live here,” she offered.
    My eyebrows raised in curiosity, I looked at her without responding.
    I gestured her into the house and to sit at the kitchen table. She asked for some tea.
    “Every Saturday morning for 75 years, I have driven to your house, parked in the street and just stared. This morning, I noticed the For Sale sign. I just need to come and look at it one more time. I am very sick and the doctors tell me that I may die soon. I just wanted to come in once more so I can die in peace.”
    She sipped her tea, looked around the kitchen and wept some more.
    “This house sure has changed. You must have done a lot of work.”
    I nodded, not quite sure what to say.
    “It was in this room where it happened.”
    “What happened,” I asked, The truth was I really didn’t want to know.
    “I killed him here. Right where I’m sitting now.”
    I was incredulously listening to what seemed like this woman’s last confession before leaving this earth.
    “He was a good man. Sam was. He was my father. But those voices. They wouldn’t stop. They told me to do it. So I poisoned him. Put it right in his tea.” She held up her mug as if to “cheers” me. And now I’m going to beg him for his forgiveness.”
    The cyanide pill she sneaked into her tea cup took her life just as quickly as she invited herself into my home. And, just as quickly as that morning forever haunts me.

  37. I was so excited. My fiancé and I would be married soon and he had a new job about a hundred miles away in Memphis. All I had to do was get rid of the house my parents left me. I lived here after they passed away and it is comfortable, but it is also very old and needs updated. It isn’t going to bring me a fortune, but it might get enough for a down payment on that new house we’ve been looking at in Memphis. The sign is up and the realtor assures me I’ll have a lot of interest. People are buying in this area and fixing up the older homes. That is just what I wanted to hear.

    A knock at the door stopped me in my packing. I need to get things ready to go, so I might as well start, right? I opened the door and there stood the cutest little old lady I’ve ever seen. Her white hair was in a tight bun that gave her very pale face the effect of having had plastic surgery to get rid of wrinkles. It didn’t quite work. Her eye lids were red rimmed and practically lash-less. She wore a baggy white dress with pink stripes, sagging stockings, and flat brown well worn loafers. Her large flowered purse was held tightly under one age-spotted arm.

    “May I help you?” I asked.

    “Oh, I don’t mean to bother you,” she said. “I saw you have the old place for sale and I just had to see it one more time.”

    “One more time?” I asked, my eyebrows raised.

    “My father built this house eighty years ago young lady. I grew up here,” she explained.

    “Oh, well do come in then. I’m glad to meet you.”

    She stepped carefully across the threshold and her eyes gazed around the room in slow sections. “It has certainly changed since I was a girl.”

    “Well, my parents bought it and remodeled it about thirty years ago. I guess it had been through several people before that. They put up a swing in the back yard for me in an old oak tree.”

    “I’ll bet I know just the one,” she said with a smile.

    “Would you like to see it?” I asked smiling. There were several oak trees out there, but there was one that looked especially old and flowers never would grow there.

    “Why, yes I would. Thank you.”

    I helped her out to the tree and she said yes, it was the tree she was thinking of. She knelt slowly down and wiped a tear from the corner of her eye.

    “Are you alright?” I asked.
    “Yes,” she said. “It’s just been so long. You see I’ve kept a secret since I was twelve. This is where my father buried my mother after he caught her with the milkman. He swore me to secrecy and I was too afraid to tell.”

    I fainted on the spot.

  38. douglangille says:

    ** I’m still chaining prompts together. If this doesn’t make sense on its own, the rest is linked off my username. **

    STORMY NIGHT – PART TEN
    =======================

    Click. Fast-forward.

    It’d been more than a year since her daughter died. She was slow at putting her life back together. The last few years, she had been immersed in the disease, her little girl’s care and declining health. The end was inevitable, but the horrific abruptness of last year shocked us both.

    Phone calls for singing gigs went unanswered. She simply wouldn’t venture beyond the four walls of our home. It was her fortress. She was safe.

    After the incident, I’d been politely asked to resign from the company. It was an easy decision to set up shop as a freelancer with the settlement. This kept me close to my broken bride.

    We’d been living in my parents’ old home since we came back. Funny, they’ve been gone for twenty years, but I still think of my house as theirs.

    Things had to change. I tried to talk with her about putting the house up, but she was non-committal and apathetic. Her response was a ringing endorsement. I called the realtor the next day.

    The sign only stood on the lawn for an hour when our neighbor ventured across the street. A friend of my parents, I hadn’t seen much of her in recent years. I had forgotten how ancient she was! I invited her in for tea, and the three of us sat in the morning-lit kitchen.

    The old maven and I chatted about my days as a yard-ape while my best-girl, clearly not at her best, stirred honey in to her cup and stared detachedly at the dust motes playing in the sunbeam.

    She told stories of how she grew up in the neighborhood, and for a time, in this very house. Her husband was also raised on our street. I asked her how my parents, her close friends, came to own this place. On that topic she grew dark and silent.

    It was at that point that she reached in to her pocket and drew out an old key with a shaky hand.

    She placed it on the table with a click and held a single boney finger on the business end. She spoke to my wife for the first and only time. Their eyes met, steely gazed beaten down by the torment, one of time and one of tragedy.

    “This is for you. Don’t let him sell this house before you solve its secrets. This will make you whole again.”

    With that, the old girl downed her tea with a gulp and excused herself. She crossed my lawn and lifted the sign’s stake with more force than I thought in her. The plaque lay flat on the grass as she strode off.

    Back in the kitchen, my wife stood up, cupping the key in her hands as if it were a fragile creature about to escape. She looked at me and smiled for the first time since, well, before. Her eyes danced and I thought I could hear her quietly humming.

    Click. Stop.

    “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick. Jack you’re gonna get your lazy ass kicked.”

    The fog was lifting but the confusion remained. Apparently, the hallucinations persisted as well.

    I was alone in the room, no longer strapped to a chair. The gurney was cold, hard and uncomfortable. I still couldn’t move. The lights were electric white, pulling any color forward in to brilliance.

    I saw green and sensed motion, but it no longer mattered.

    My songstress was silent. Her music was gone forever.

    • handyman43127 says:

      I like this story, perhaps with a little editing to make the sentences flow more freely it would be better, I especially like the ending.

    • margi33 says:

      I really liked the imagery. I was a bit confused at the ending but you said it was part of a series, so that is probably why.

      • swatchcat says:

        That’s the problem with tying in other story prompts. You’ve informed the reader that it is part of a larger story but in this particular forum, not everyone is an ongoing reader that would understand what you’re trying to accomplish. If it is working for you as a new story/novel, fantastic, critiquing is available under the other forum pages. Some may want to see some more of your great abilities as new fresh short, individual tales. This however is pretty good.

        • douglangille says:

          You’re probably right. I should focus on short tales that stand on their own. It’s a bit much to ask the reader, in this forum, to keep track of what is now 5000 words worth of material.

          Chaining the prompts together was a dare from some friends at work. It’s contrived and full of continuity/logic issues. However, I wasn’t expecting to personally invest in the characters and story. A big part of me wants to see where it ends up.

    • smallster21 says:

      Good descriptions. I like the “dust motes playing in the sunbeam,” I often stare at those little buggers when I am off in a stuper. I could see everything very clearly in my mind. Though I was confused about what the key was all about, and why it changed the woman’s demeanor, but I haven’t read your story you are working on. Interesting task, chaining the prompts together. That’d be difficult. Good luck with that!

      • douglangille says:

        I’m confused about the significance of the key myself and its role to play. For all I know, the key belongs to the same bucket of plot devices as the Smoke Monster in “Lost”.

        • douglangille says:

          …or it could be critical to the future survival of humankind.

          Meh.

        • smallster21 says:

          Damnit, lol, I have never watched “Lost”! I’m out of the loop. though weird you mention it. For some reason I was reading episode recaps online yesterday. I think I was contemplating watching it on Netflix. But, I did catch the whole deal with the confusing plots and unanswered questions within the show.

  39. DMelde says:

    Peter dug in the stale earthen floor of the basement. The house was old and although the basement was cool, he was sweating. At two feet down he found the first bones. They were old like the house and looked human. At three feet down a bony hand reached up from the ground and grabbed his ankle—
    Peter woke up drenched in sweat. This house can’t sell soon enough, he thought. The same dream had plagued him since moving in. He sat pensive, wondering what it all meant.
    The following morning an old woman, stooped with age, knocked on Peter’s door. Despite her appearance, she reminded him of someone much younger. It was in her eyes. The way she looked at him with the innocence of the very young. Surely, he thought, she must have seen plenty of hardship and suffering in her day. How odd, to be so old and yet so young. He offered her coffee and they sat in the kitchen. He felt that he knew her, and he was about to ask her how when she started talking.
    “I lived in this house many years ago when it was first built.” the old woman said in her soft voice.
    Peter was a little shocked at hearing this. He knew the house was over 100 years old.
    “My father built it when my mother was heavy with child. With me, I was the infant.”
    “You don’t look old enough ma’am. This house is over—“
    She cut him off with a wave of her hand.
    “I want you, no; I need you to do something for me. My parents were never properly buried, but you already know that, don’t you.”
    “I’m sorry ma’am, but I don’t know anything about your parents.”
    “Then why do you sit awake at night? Who do you think you dig for in your dreams?”
    Peter felt like he was sitting on the edge of a cliff. The house was eerily quiet, as if it were listening.
    “On the day I was born my father’s sister Ruth came to this house to celebrate my birth. My father never knew it, but Ruth hated my mother because she was Indian. She poisoned my parents that night. She called it an honor killing, and she buried them in shallow graves in the basement.
    In revenge, Ruth was killed by my mother’s cousin. He buried her, not knowing where my parents lay. Peter, give my parents the Christian burial they deserve.”
    Peter sat still and finally said, “Alright. I’ll do my best.”
    The old woman smiled broadly, “Look for three graves in the corner where you dig in your dreams, but stay away from the grave in the opposite corner.”
    “Three graves?” Peter asked. “Why are there three?”
    “Ruth poisoned the infant too, Peter.”
    Peter looked into her eyes and saw her innocence. He hung his head and nodded.
    “And the other grave?”
    “Belongs to Ruth, the one who claws at you in your dreams.”

  40. nelleg says:

    “So, Mrs. Whitting you said you used to live here as a little girl?” Julia asked the old woman as she poured her a cup of earl grey.

    “I lived here until I was 10 with my parents and brother George. It was a joyous time for me. Unfortunately my family didn’t feel the same.” The old woman spoke in a shaky voice. “This is where I met the best friend I ever had. Mahaley was Cherokee and the most wonderful person I had ever met. She and I were always together and it worried my parents; they couldn’t understand or see what I saw.”

    “Why didn’t your family enjoy it here?” Julia asked the frail looking woman.

    “My father hoped to farm this land, my mother tried to create a large garden and George wanted to raise livestock. None of them had any luck. The crops wouldn’t grow, the vegetation would wilt before they ripened and George’s animals wouldn’t eat or drink and eventually died. My father decided to sell it back. Mahaley told me that the land had been cursed by her relatives because of the people who lived on the land before us.” declared the old woman.

    “What did the people do to cause Mahaley’s family to curse the ground?” Julia inquired.

    “The father tilled up Mahaley’s family’s burial site so he could farm the land. It was the mother that first fell victim. She succumbed to pneumonia. One child was killed in a farm accident and the other wandered off never to be found. The old man lived quite awhile but lost his mind and then took his own life.” The tiny woman spoke without a hint of emotion.

    “Oh my, I never heard this story before.” Julia was shocked by the revelations.

    “Mahaley only told the story to me. No one had lived in the house since the old man and he had been dead for 45 years when my father bought it from county.” The old woman kindly spoke.

    “Why didn’t your parents like Mahaley?” Julia asked as she got up and turned to get more tea for her guest.

    “It was because they couldn’t see her. She only appeared to me. They worried that this place was as bad for me. The day we moved away Mahaley told me to return after no one could see me either and she would still be here.” The old woman’s voice changed from shaky to one of a small child.

    Julia turned back around but the woman wasn’t there. Julia started to look for the woman when the picture on the front page of the newspaper caught her eye. It was the old woman’s face with the caption “Mrs. Mabel Whitting died yesterday at the age of 89. She donated her vast estate to a scholarship that supports the education of girls of Cherokee descent.” Julia’s tea cup shatters as it hits the floor and then Julia hears the faint sound of little girls’ laughter.

  41. swatchcat says:

    “Sorry, the open house is not until Saturday,” I tried to tell the little old lady.

    She pushed through the door quietly heading for the kitchen. Sliding her feeble hand across the top of a wooden chair she stopped, looked across the table and circled to the middle chair.

    “Hmm, this is just right,” she said and sat. “So do you have a family,” she asked, pointing at a small chair in the corner.

    Still confused at what was happening I answered, “Um, what? No, it came with the house. There were three actually.”

    Little old ladies have a way of weeding their way into things as though they belong, and that’s what she did. She spoke of her first time moving in to this house long ago. The previous owners left everything. Three chairs, three bowls, three beds. At first she thought maybe it was someone with an obsessive compulsive disorder. Everything was in threes. Things that broke mended themselves or moved on there own.

    “Have you had any strange happenings, dear,” the old lady asked?

    Honestly, I had but, I didn’t want to admit it to this woman and seem crazy. Those same things were left behind when I moved in. It became a never ending ordeal to get comfortable in my own house. Everyday was a challenge. Soft, hard, big, small, hot, and cold, I was just sick of it.

    “Yes Dear,” she said reading my mind, “but the visitors, do you get visitors?” She looked at me like she knew the answer already.

    I rubbed my face and gave in. “Yes, bears! Freaking bears!” I didn’t think she would believe me but, she just listened. “And they talk!”

    I told her of the family of bears that showed up one day running me out of the house. After that day, it kept happening like clock work.
    Every few days I am haunted by this family of bears that keep telling me that this is their house.

    “Honestly, I stay with friends just to avoid all the problems. That’s why I’m finally selling it.” I told her as I carefully blew on my coffee, too hot to drink.

    “Dear, it happens to everyone who lives here.” She told me the story.

    The legend is a little girl broke into this house a long time ago harassing a family of bears that had gone on a morning walk to let their meal cool. The only way to break the horrible haunting cycle of the bears was to tear down the house.

    After the old lady left, I sat in vague disbelief. Later that day, when my fury visitors arrived to oust me, I knew what I had to do. I turned on the gas and left, taking the for sale sign with me.

  42. Marco Kenen says:

    Four weeks ago… If the reflection in the window was anything to go by then Olivia’s face had lost all its colour. She had heard rumours before, vague story’s about a gruesome murder dating back sixty years or so. The only regularity in those story’s had been the survival of a teenage girl. The old woman, Elizabeth, had just filled in some of the blank spots. Olivia could feel a shiver going down her spine. She wasn’t all to sure if she wanted to believe in the fact that the young girl and Elizabeth were one and the same person. Not after the story she had just told her.

    Sixty years ago… A barely fifteen year old Elizabeth was bathing in her mothers blood. The dark presence which had haunted her family in this house for years had finally driven her father over the edge. Even her father had not been able to stand his ground against it. His kindness and strong will had merely delayed the inevitable. Although death wouldn’t come easy for either one of us. Elizabeth was just sitting there, unable to move or speak. It felt like the dark presence had immobilised her with fear. Hours passed while she watched her father, possessed by the dark presence, mutilate her mother, his wife. Screams of terror filled the room, fuelled by what looked like excruciatingly painful wounds. And then, with her last breath, she managed to say something that made him stop, literally. He dropped to the ground mere seconds later, still holding the blood covered knife in his hand.

    One week ago… Olivia had sold the house within a record breaking three weeks. Fair enough, she had dropped the price by almost a quarter. She just couldn’t stand living in the house anymore. Nightmares had become a regular visitor for the past weeks. Olivia could only imagine the struggles the old woman must have had before being able to rid herself of the nightmares.

    Present day… “Good morning!” Elizabeth had been given a key so she could let herself in when needed. Her granddaughter, Jennifer, and her no good boyfriend had been grateful for the aid Elizabeth had given them. She had spun the previous owner a truly horrifying story. One that would give her nightmares and make her sell the house even if it meant taking a loss. The dumb woman had actually believed Elizabeth and the young girl where the same person. “Hah!” The performance of a lifetime, even if she said it herself. “Jen? Where are you?” No response, Hmm, something didn’t feel right. “Daniel?” She had just cleared the kitchen and was now standing in the living room. Elizabeth’s eyes felt like they were about to pop out of their sockets. The words “I love you!” were written in blood on the floor. History had repeated itself…

  43. Amy says:

    Ok, I realize I did not follow the prompt to a “T”, but it’s a jumping off point, right? This just happens to be what came out, so enjoy!

    The circular saw cut through the wood with an abrasive sound. Christian wanted everything to be perfect for the first showing of the house, and the crooked piece of trim slapped on the upstairs doorframe just wouldn’t do. He measured carefully, checking it three times before making the cut. As he meticulously nailed the final piece on, he stood back and admired the nice clean lines. A knock at the door broke his appreciative gaze.

    As he went down the steps to the front door, he checked his watch. It was only six o’clock and he wondered who would be visiting this early in the morning. He hoped the saw hadn’t woken a neighbor; his relationship with the rest of the inhabitants of Pine Ridge Circle was already strained. After the sale of the house, he would be glad to be rid of this place.

    He went to the window and pulled the curtain back slightly, trying not to draw attention. He peered through the opening and saw an old woman standing on the porch, her head bowed low. She had a piece of plastic wrapped around her white head and shoulders, as if to shield against the rain. Christian glanced up at the sky, which was a deep indigo blue with hints of orange and pink peeking out over the horizon line. There were no clouds in sight. Puzzled, he went to the door and opened it halfway to address the woman.

    “Can I help you?” he asked.

    “Christian,” she mumbled through the plastic drawn tight around her neck. She raised her head to look at him. He recognized those hazel eyes that shifted their color to match her mood. They were a dismal shade of gray now as they stared back at him.

    He slammed the door as fast as he could, shutting out the jarring image of her in the doorway. He ran to the kitchen and grasped the edge of the counter, turning his knuckles white. What is she doing here? he thought. She can’t be here. Not today. She will ruin everything.

    “Christian,” he heard again, this time from the living room just beyond the kitchen. He jumped at the diminutive voice, summoning him as it had so many times in this house. He slowly approached the living room and there she was, seated in her favorite wingback chair by the window.

    “Mama,” he acknowledged. He did not look at her face, fearful of the gray hue shading her demeanor.

    “You can’t sell the house, Christian,” she whispered.

    “Mama, we’ve talked about this. I can’t stay here. I have to move on,” he replied.

    “You want to leave me Christian? Leave me all alone in this hell? We were supposed to stay together forever, remember?” She reached out to him, exposing her crimson-stained arms, and the sound of the plastic crackling as she moved disturbed him terribly.

    She began to sing to him, a lullaby she had soothed him with when he was a child. He went to her and sat at the foot of the chair, letting her caress his smooth dark hair. He knew she derived more comfort from this ritual than he did now. She reached the highpoint of the tune, a dubious and despondent melody, and he closed his eyes. She would disappear, as she always did, he reassured himself. He would mourn her when he finally broke free of this place.

  44. swatchcat says:

    Spooky. Nice job

  45. RLDickson says:

    “The realtor will be by this afternoon for a finally prep for the open house this weekend” Ellen explained as she filled her husband’s travel mug with coffee. “I’ll be busy making this home an un-resistible masterpiece.” She said as she kissed her fingers and let a mwah for good measure.
    “I will certainly leave you to work your magic. Just make sure the expert realtor knows my office wants me in Chicago in two months house sold or not.” Josh grabbed his travel mug and pointed an affirmative finger as he headed for the door.
    “I’ll make sure she doesn’t drag her feet just to have more time with her niece and nephew” Ellen patted the heads of her children and rustled them up and out the door to catch the school bus.
    An elderly woman approached the house. She stared at the for sale sign. “Oh, good morning, I was so far down memory lane that I didn’t notice you standing there.” The elderly woman said as she made her approach toward the house. “I grew up right here in this house all the way till I was 16 years old”. A sudden sadness came over her voice. “I wonder if you would allow an old woman a glimpse of her past.”
    “Just for a moment” Ellen said “I have to get ready for the open house the weekend and have tons to do.”
    “I can still feel them here. Still sense their presence.” She spoke in a whisper as if someone was listening.
    “Excuse me?” Ellen began to regret her choice.
    “My years are few and I can no longer be the vault that carries this homes secret. My father was an extremely religious man. He believed that sin could be eradicated from a person. He worked for many years to perfect his eradication process. His eradication process involved denial the patient was to deny himself every earthly pleasure. That included food and drink. He believed if they could survive tied up in our basement for 60 days it would free them of their sins. The basement is filled with experiments gone wrong. There are over 30 people buried down there. Even with so many deaths the church allowed this to go on being fully persuaded by my father’s charismatic charms. The people that died were reported as having volunteered to live out their lives in the mission fields.” A tear flowed down her cheek. “I wasn’t until I was 16 that my mother took a stand and made a decision to get us out of the house. You see it was then that my father began to see sin in me and decided that I would need to go through the eradication process. My mother packed us up and moved us as far away as possible never to look back.” The old woman stopped and starred deep into Ellen’s eyes. “You’ve heard them, haven’t the cries of souls in torment?”

    • swatchcat says:

      If you didnt get this from above your story, here it is again. The postings are a bit wonky. Your story has a nice spooky feel. Nice job

    • Cyntax says:

      Nice horror story. Just a suggestion, but breaking up the last paragraph and using a little less dialogue might help build tension a bit.

    • margi33 says:

      Liked the story… was spooky. The agree with the previous post to break the last paragraph a little and the word eradication process was repeated a lot. Maybe shorten the name of it to cleansing or something… don’t know. But good job overall.

    • smallster21 says:

      I agree with everyone else. The history of the house is spooky. The structure would benefit from starting a new paragraph each time the speaker changes.

      It is hard to build tension in 500 words. Your description of the occurrence was thought out and described well. Would be something to use in a lengthier piece, so you can show strange things happening instead of the woman showing up and revealing everything at once. But, like you said 500 words is tough!

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