Short Story: The Haunted House (ca 1600 words)

hauntedhouse

The house has its whispers, it creaks softly to let me know that you’re still here. I can hear you. 

There is a dent in the bed where you used to sleep. I only rarely role over to your side of the bed to see if any scent lingers, to see if there’s any real part of you still here with me. The illusion lives, while the sheets you used to love have fallen apart from wear. It’s a quicksand of delusions I know exists, but can’t let go off. It would mean admitting defeat.

It would mean falling apart, but I guess I’ve done that already.

When I wake up at dawn, the sun sends its rays through the window and I recall all the times we bickered about the drapes. I still keep them open at night, the way you wanted it. I always preferred the blinds down at night, but you always insisted on getting the morning sun, and how can I deny you this now?

It was so like you to choose a white house on a hill. You lit up when you saw it and I knew right away that this was your house, and I thought that you would be happy in it and I couldn’t deny you that happiness. Truth be told, I didn’t care much about where we lived and figured that as long as you were happy I would be happy too.

Rolling out of bed these days is hard. The floorboards creak and I hate that I no longer cringe at the fact. I was always afraid that the sound would wake you up, but the habit is gone now. I no longer creep out of bed, tip-toeing over the floorboards trying not to step on the ones that are the loudest.

I just get up. Take a quick glance at the empty bed beside me and walk over the floor, to hell with the sound the house makes.

To hell with the house, but then that might be exactly where this house is placed and the fact that I can still eat breakfast, exit through the main door and go to work is just sheer magic. And that’s just what I do, each morning I get up. I brew myself a strong cup of coffee, I smoke my morning cigarette and on a good day I eat a scone and then I’m on my way.

The sound the door makes as it slams shut always seems to echo a soft farewell, see you later. I do not hate the house, because it was the most precious thing on this earth to you, but I sometimes wish we had never found it.

It was a bright summer’s day, but even then I should have sensed that there was something not just right about it. The real-estate agent spoke very well of the property, and claimed that it was a real find, and that was true. There is nothing structurally wrong with the house, it was well kept and beautiful and that right there should have been my first warning.

It was way too cheap. Despite your earnings, it was strange that we could afford it, a simple mechanic and a journalist.

The second warning was more subtle. And I guess something I was completely unable to decipher at the time, being a normal sod who never believed in anything he couldn’t see.

The resistance I met with as I entered the house, however, was undeniable. It was like a sharp slap in the face, but I wrote it off as something I didn’t understand but that could, surely, be explained somehow.

I still get a slap in the face when I enter the house, but these days it feels more like a welcome home, rather than a stay away from here. That day the house was charming however and you fell in love with it completely. You said that it was the second love of your life and how could we do anything but buy it? It was perfectly located although you had to commute a bit further than before and it was big enough for the large family you always wanted.

Whispers from the past, they echo through this house constantly and you never know if it’s your past or someone else’s, some echo from a past this house has had underneath these cold mountains, on this small hill just outside a small town. It sounds idyllic.

You always said that some deity had blessed this place, it was only later you started to realise it was a curse. The life went out of your eyes then and it never returned, and you looked at me in a way that almost made me believe you feared me. That I had become some hostile element in your life, a demon you were forced to live with and not the man you loved.

I hated that look, but I knew it wasn’t permanent, it wasn’t I who changed but you in that damned house. You, with the knitting and the lace drapes in the kitchen. You, and the pink baby room beside the master bedroom. You, and the samples of wallpaper, color palettes and china pattern. You, with your new hairstyle, an old fashioned one at that and your new perfume.

You, and that damned house, that was what changed and I could do nothing but stand by and watch as you started to collect napkins and host old fashioned dinner parties. It wasn’t my forte, but I let it slide.

It wasn’t until you started to infuse those changes on me as well, that I started to react.

I guess saying that I wanted to move was an overreaction, a statement I later regretted bitterly, because this house doesn’t allow for such things. It may have resisted my arrival, but it will not allow anyone to leave.

Not permanently.

And you never did, you stayed.

Sitting in the rocking chair you bought at some fair, the hideous thing was placed in the living room and I guess it was the last drop.

Now you sit in it and you create such heartache with in me, such endless sorrow and I live my live in a never ending rain of pathos, that dictates who I am and what I do.

I cannot forgive what this house did to you.

What I have to do.

I always go to bed early. The rocking chair is now in the attic and you sit there, staring. The little sustenance you need I feed you before it’s time to sleep, and on a good day you reach for the glass of water that always stands on the table beside your chair.

There’s an old blanket on your feet. You look like an old woman already, old and worn and there is not a hint of soul left in you. The shrieks that emanated through the house when I brought the doctors told its story, the shrieks didn’t end until I let you sit in the chair again.

You sit there, staring at the walls. You sleep there, sometimes waking with a shriek. I know not to try to comfort you. It’s useless, you see only a demon in me.

The fight that night was so pointless, so hurtful and so confusing. You accused me of so many things, most of which weren’t true. You said I was the devil himself. You called me a bastard and a liar.

And I guess the last one was right. I did lie to you. It wasn’t love that pulled me into another woman’s bedroom, it was lust and I blame this house and the person you became when the house took you over.

Now the house has sucked the last bit of your soul out of you, and there is only one thing left to do. The doctors can’t help. Nothing helps. You aren’t there anymore.

But I do love you, even though you’re just a husk now. A living dead, so to speak. A soulless monster more likely to murder me in my sleep than caress me, like you used to do.

The picture of you beside my bed is of little help. You look so happy there, so peaceful. Not the sorrowful monster you are now, clawing at your own thighs, biting and screaming.

I know you think I’m the monster. The man who hit you, betrayed you and caused you pain, but what got to us was the house, the house that won’t let us leave. It keeps you up there, terrified and whenever someone tries to help you, you scream bloody murder.

The doctors tell me it’s best to let you sit there. So I do.

But it’s not enough. Your soul is lost and your body sits there as if nothing has happened, mocking me. If I’m not careful it will start to drain my soul next and then nothing will be left of me. 

Maybe it’s for the best, but I know what I have to do. But it’s hard. It’s so unbelievably hard, because no matter what that body is now, it’s still the only thing that’s left of you.

And I do still love you, no matter what, I always will.

So how can I stick that knife in you?
How can I?

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