The ghost appeared on my second night in the mansion. Why he waited for the second night I don't know. Maybe like most people he hoped his job would do it itself and I'd leave, run screaming from the vestibule fresh from a shower, towel wrapped around me, hair in a shower cap.
I'd been house hunting for the better part of two years--it actually may have been closer to three, but house hunting, like childrearing, dating, trips to the dentist and other unsavory responsibilities has a way of bending time over its knee and making the straightest of lines seem like they go on forever--so when I stumbled upon the listing for the mansion on a hill, 232 Shadowbird Lane, I nearly broke my phone from excitement.
Agatha, my boss at the University Library and all around ghoul, nearly shushed me into oblivion. But even her skeletal finger, held up to those thin, purpling lips as it cut her breathe in half, failed to quell my excitement.
The real estate agent's response came seconds after I hit send on the tour request. It's always dangerous trying to decipher tone from text--ask anyone who has ever attempted dating since the advent of cellphones and they'll attest--but I can't deny the flutter of joy I felt as I devoured the words. Her "Thank you for your inquiry!" all but leapt off the screen and grabbed my collar. I've never rescued anyone. Nor have I ever, even in an indirect way, helped someone out of a life squeezing jam, but I imagine it feels something like that thank you felt. My car practically spouted wings when I entered it. Even the radio played the right songs. This was kismet. Fate. I hadn't stepped foot inside the place yet and I was already in love.
See what I mean, when I say house hunting can be like dating.
Everything sped up after that. Forms, applications loans. I understood about as much of it as the average person, which meant I would not be surprised if in five years a man in a dark suit and sunglasses appeared at my door to inform me that the bank, actually, owned the house and everything in it, including me. I didn't care. Who didn't the banks own? Maybe a tall besuited man appearing on my doorstep could be a good thing. The house fell into my lap, why not a lover?
Which brings us back to the ghost.
He appeared on that second night. A slight rattle inside the walls, like someone had banged an invisible drum and all I heard was the echo. I wrote it off to the house settling. Old pipes moaning. I knew nothing of either, but I still had money in my bank account after buying a home so I was nothing short of a god in my book. Pipes could be cleaned. Walls replaced. A house resettled. Whatever men in dirty jeans and tight shirts did. If they were as cheap as the house then I'd hire an army of them to come parading in, hammers and saws flying. So be it. I had a house.
The third night was when things changed. I have lived in Massachusetts my entire life. Spent hours driving up and down her coast and, when called upon, into the depths of her central and western parts. I have never personally experienced an earthquake here. Apparently there was one, back when I was in high school, but I never felt it. My friend told me he had been awoken by a baseball falling of his shelf and hitting him in the face, but he also liked ?? and ate cookie dough raw out of the package so who's to know whether it actually happened or not. I don't own any baseballs. And by that third night the shelves all remained bare. Still, come midnight I was jostled from my bed by the biggest quake I had ever imagined possible.
Boxes fell from chairs; curtain rods clattered to the floor--gorgeous stained wood floors, mind you--the pizza box I swore I would throw away but never did shimmied off the table and vomited my would be leftovers all over the kitchen floor--a ghastly linoleum too tacky to be campy, too new to be vintage; I vowed to tear it up as soon as the opportunity presented itself--and my bed hopped a full foot across the room.
My mind did not immediately go to the supernatural. Growing up I had developed a penchant for stories of the bizarre. Not because I believed in the possibility of occult phenomenon, but rather I enjoyed living in a world where the bizarre was wholl
The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:
Begin Start typing to begin
Letter Use the letter T
Words Reach 50 words
Event Your character sees a ghost
Location A mansion
Words Reach 100 words
Character A well-respected librarian
Words Reach 200 words
Prop Include a radio
Words Reach 300 words
Letter Use the letter W
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Event An earthquake hits
Words Reach 700 words
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