For Round Five of our contest, we asked you to send us original works of fiction that began with the line, "Some people swore that the house was haunted," and ended with the line, "Nothing was ever the same again after that."
Some people swore that the house was haunted... It's not that I didn't agree with them; I wasn't concerned. I stood in the middle of the walkway, staring up at the Victorian beauty, and fell in love. The front door opened. Matt McKinney poked his head out. "Are you coming inside?"
"I'll take it."
"Don't be a fool, Eric, you have to see the inside." He pulled his head back, but left the door standing open.
With effort, I unplanted my feet and finished the trek to the door. I was met with immaculate walls, crown molding, chair rails and hardwood floors. As if reading my mind, Matt piped up, "The previous owners restored it."
I shot him a doubtful look, "How much?"
I eyed a cobweb in the corner, imagining I could see the spider poking his head over the top of the molding. "How long has it been on the market?"
"Three years. No one around here wants to buy the house," supplied Matt. "The previous owners were move-ins, like yourself, not from the area. They wanted to open a bed and breakfast, but changed their minds. Honestly, they cannot afford to go any lower."
I moved into the front sitting room, which opened to the first-floor turret room. Without turning back, I said I'd take it.
I followed the front room around to the formal dining room, which was furnished. I was about to walk into the kitchen when something caught my eye from the front room. I turned in time to see a stream of auburn hair pass out of the doorway. I wandered back into the front room and caught the sound of footsteps sprinting up the stairs. I went through the foyer to the stairs and started slowly up them. I could hear a soft, feminine giggle from above me. It ceased abruptly when Matt poked his head over the railing above, "'Bout time. I need to show you the top of the turret; it's part of an attic room, which would be great for your office."
Matt continued to drag me from room to room, expounding on the positive aspects of the house. Matt waved me into the turret and pointed at the edge of the turret, which met the side of the house. Attached to the wall was a captains ladder which went up through a small hole in the ceiling. I looked inquiringly at Matt, who only shook his head and pointed up the stairs.
As it turns out, the attic room is perfect for an office. Moving into this house had been like sinking into a warm bath. I closed my eyes and leaned back in my plush office chair. When I opened them, the auburn-haired woman sat on my desk. Her long hair fell down her back and pooled slightly on the desk.
"Trying to torture me?"
"No, presenting myself in a form pleasing to you."
"Don't ghosts usually keep their own form?"
There was that light giggle again, "I'm not so simple as a ghost. This house has a long history and a spirit of its own."
I walked around the desk and raised my hand as if to touch her, "Are you real?"
I laid my hand on her shoulder, which was solid. I ran my hand down her arm and to her hand. "You look just like her."
"I know." She dragged me in to her warm, soft lips. This, too, was like drowning. And for the second time in my life, nothing was ever the same again after that.