New Halloween story
What is it about children that has so much creepy potential? Last week, I was in a bit of a sweat trying to come up with a scary story for an event on Friday evening. At first, no ideas would come. Then, a few came, but they all involved children. As a mother, I felt resistance to writing about children in creepy situations. I tried to come up with something that did not involve children… to no avail. I finally gave in.
Here it is, my Halloween story for 2018.
Shadows still remain
“I’ve heard stories about this place,” said my mother.
The house had a wooden staircase that creaked. I stepped up and down, up and down, listening to the creaks and eavesdropping as my mother and the estate agent talked in the hall below.
“That’s just what they are – stories,” said the estate agent. “After the woman died, the DA had forensics come in, search the whole house. There’s nothing here.”
They moved into the kitchen, out of earshot. I headed up the stairs and wandered aimlessly from one empty room to another. After months of house-hunting, I was bored rigid. Every place in our price range had the same crap: yellowed newspapers, stained carpets, shoeboxes of receipts. Once, I got lucky and found a one-legged doll. The estate agent said I could keep it. Back at the motel, Mom threw it in the trash.
I went into one of the bedrooms and stood by the window, overlooking the back yard. Mom and the estate agent were down there, gesturing and talking. The yard was just as sparse as the rest of the place: bare, uneven concrete with weeds poking up between cracks. Rain started to fall, spattering the concrete with grey. The adults moved inside, out of sight.
Then I saw something. The grey blotches being formed by the rain weren’t all random. Some of them, close to the perimeter wall, were roughly rectangular in shape, all of similar size. I counted six of them, three by the side wall, three by the back wall.
I heard voices downstairs. I went to the landing and looked down. The estate agent was gathering up her keys. Mom looked up at me, wearily.
“Come on, Tricia,” she said. “Bus’ll be leaving in a minute. Put your hood up.”
I snuggled up to Mom as we sat side by side on the bus. She looked down at me in surprise.
“You all right, Trish?” she said. Dark was falling outside now, trees and buildings trundling past in shadows.
“Don’t rent that house, Mom,” I said.
I felt the rise and fall of her body as she sighed deeply.
“I won’t, sugar. Something there not right, no matter what that estate agent says.”
I nodded into her sleeve, shutting my eyes tight.
(c) Orla Shanaghy 2018