Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Halloween Ghost Story!

This is a ghost story I wrote a few years back but never published it. I thought I’d share it with you on this Halloween Day. Happy Halloween!

Mirror! Mirror!

The hyper sky was the perfect backdrop for the tormented house on the hill. A rupture of a house that brooded in the middle of an acre of uncontrollable vegetation—an issue that carried on throughout the house. According to legend, its prior residents lived a hollow life without much outside contact. Their maids, chauffeurs and gardeners seemed to be their closest acquaintances, but not close enough to know what sadness and danger occupied the rooms. Murder inflicted this house—leaving the beautiful mistress bludgeoned to death in front of her makeup table—where she pampered her exquisite looks. Because it was known that someone died there, the house stood vacant for decades before any interest or offer to buy came about.

After many years, she happened to come upon this town while driving through and decided to check it out. An exotic creature—full of life—yet prepared to live a non-disruptive one. The house on the hill provided privacy and seclusion from the hectic world she wanted to leave. This woman, Ada Svente brought fresh air with her when she walked into a room, entranced the men with her beauty and invoked jealousy from the women. Her midnight hair, chocolate frosted skin and green apple eyes made her delicious to gaze upon. She brought a flavor foreign to the town—one the townsfolk wanted to embrace—yet kept a distance due to the mystery. Ada’s courteous yet brisk manner was a highlight for the town gossip, which kept her distant from the rest. Rumors stirred about who she was exactly. The fascination with mystery played an important role in this small town, so no one bothered to find out about Ada to keep up the riddled secrecy.

Ada Svente purchased the house on the hill, and without notice, moved in her possessions. When she did make an appearance, it was like an apparition—flying in and out. The vegetation that occupied the land for years disappeared, and was replaced with bushes, trees and unpronounceable flowers. This seamless transition happened as quickly as the wind that brought Ada.

While the townsfolk caught what glimpses they could of her, she had a secret admirer watching her every day. When Ada moved into the house she kept a piece of furniture left behind by the previous owners. The solid wood embroidered makeup table consisting of several drawers running on both sides of the beauty stool, and a mirror covering the width of the desk. After a good polish, the tender nicks added character to the aged ensemble. Every morning and night, Ada appeared in the mirror admiring the hidden treasure while she prepared for the day or evening.

Her energy weaved through town—putting even a smile on Old Man Myers’s face. He lived a hard life, so he didn’t have much to smile about. Out of respect, Ada referred to him as Mr. Myers and stopped by to talk to him in front of the grocery store every time she came into town. The store had outlasted WWII, and by the looks of it, had come out with the same amount of scars. Its screen door with drooping slits—hinges attached to rusted screws—stopped some customers from entering and/or returning. Those brave enough to shop there found some expiration dates on can foods dating back to the last presidential election. But those who felt sorry for Old Man Myers kept coming back—examining products and purchasing items good enough to salvage.

It was in the front of the store—sitting in rocking chairs—where Ada and Mr. Myers’s friendship began and ended. She was fascinated with his war stories, and he admired her beauty during their conversations—unable to look away because of the life she generated inside him. A restless, stirring feeling began to play while he talked to her. Much of their conversations were about war and what brought him to this small town. Ada offered little personal information, and somehow maneuvered to keep anonymity. Mr. Myers respected her wishes. Their relationship grew out of respect and filled the lonely void they both experienced at times. Mr. Myers’s friends and family had all disintegrated somewhere else or into the ground. All he was left with were memories, yet his time at war seemed to reign and destroy all other memories. On the one hand, Ada enjoyed living a private life, and her relationship with Mr. Myers was controlled—convenient for her journeys into town. But it was the time between—the whispers she heard as she passed the townsfolk that left her heart beating a little slower.

A few months after settling, Ada once again visited her friend, Mr. Myers. As always, he wore his delight like a newly pressed suit. They took their seats in front of the store with cold lemonade in hand. Mr. Myers told her about the establishment of the town and quirks of the townsfolk. He said they were sheltered from the rest of the world, comfortable with how things were and sometimes felt threatened by new things. When it came to Ada, mostly the women felt vulnerable because of their own appearance. The rest of the town tended to operate in the same manner, adding the excitement of a stranger—Ada.

During their conversation, he noticed she drifted away in thought—unusual for their talks. He gazed at her profile and noticed a few blemishes on her face. His hand reached up to move her hair to the side—to see the blemishes better—when her hand flew up, swatted his away and melted him with menacing eyes. Mr. Myers’s eyes widened from disbelief that this beautiful creature reacted so harshly. Being shot in the leg at war didn’t hurt as much as her actions. After he recovered, he finally grew to a normal sitting position before speaking again.

“Ada, I’m sorry if I scared you. I had only wanted to move your hair so I could see your face better.”

Ada’s eyes seemed to roll back into her head then roll forward like a slot machine before settling her eyes on Mr. Myers. She calmly petted her hair with her hand and then allowed her body to relax.

“I owe you an explanation and an apology, Mr. Myers. I have this phobia of people touching me and I can’t recall when it started. I’m sorry for frightening you by my reaction. It won’t happen again.”

Mr. Myers sat listening to her explanation along with the apology, but something was different. Her voice was deeper than usual—her body stiff and her eyes fixated on his. The Ada he knew brought such delight. This Ada, sitting before him, engaged distance. He had a hard time finding his voice to say it was all right, so he nodded and looked away. Mr. Myers felt a nestled tear in the corner of his eye, and wanted to blink it away before she saw it.

Ada quickly rose from her chair and said, “Well I must be going. There’s so much to do at home.”

Without waiting for a response, she walked off in the opposite direction of his focus.

It took a week for Ada to return to the store, but it wasn’t embarrassment that kept her away. She cleaned and polished her mirror a hundred times in between sitting down and talking into it. In the beginning, her time in front of the mirror lasted long enough for preparations, and then after several weeks, stretched out into hours.

When she arrived at the store, there was a sign in red stating ‘Closed’. She walked around the store looking inside the broken windows to see if Mr. Myers was there.

From behind her, a male voice said, “He’s not here.”

Ada turned and jumped from the intruding voice and placed her hand over her chest to catch her breath. Her skin crinkled between her eyes as she looked him over. A weasel of a man, hair greased onto his scalp, pants pulled passed his waist and teeth lost in all directions. 

He held out his hand and said, “I’m Steve. Old Man Myers was my dad.”

Ada looked at his hand with fear then disgust before looking up at him. She knew Mr. Myers’s relationship with his son was strained, to say the least.

As if insulted, Ada responded, “It’s Mr. Myers, not Old Man Myers. You should have a little more respect toward your father. And what do you mean ‘was’ your dad?”

“And you are?”

“Ada. I visit your father often. He is friend.”

“Well I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but my dad died.”

Ada’s delicate fingers caged her mouth to hold back her scream. Her eyes rolled from left to right, up and down to find words to express her distress.

Mr. Myers couldn’t be dead. No one contacted me about it.

She waited until she was done reliving the last week in her mind—their last conversation. Ada finally withdrew a step and asked when.

“A week ago. Ralph, one of the townsfolk who periodically checks on him, found him on the floor of the store. There was a mark on his left cheek—a blemish—and his eyes scratched raw. The strange thing is there wasn’t any skin under his nails. The police are calling it a homicide and started an investigation.”

She looked away running her fingers through her hair. Her green apple eyes pooled with water until it overflowed down her cheeks. Steve extended his hand with a handkerchief and she took it.

Upset, she asked, “Why didn’t anyone contact me? Mr. Myers and I were friends. I always looked forward to our conversations.”

“I don’t know why they didn’t. I must admit I’m glad he had the pleasure of spending his time with you.”

Ada could feel his eyes caressing her body with a wily grin. It sickened her that he thought of such a thing after the recent death of his father. She dropped his handkerchief—and when he bent to pick it up—she disappeared.

She hugged her arms walking down the sidewalks of this small town. Nameless faces bowed their heads, smiled or briefly glanced then carried on with their tasks. A man carefully approached her—clearing his throat to get her attention.

“Excuse me.”

Ada whipped her head around to see the giant of a man—thick from head to toe with baseball mitt hands—who shrunk his head into his shoulders as if avoiding a scolding. She just continued to stare until he spoke again.

“Miss, my name is Ralph. I’m the one who found Old Man Myers on the floor.”

“It’s Mr. Myers. Do you know who I am?”

“Not really. I know you live in the house on the hill, but not much else. I’ve often seen you talking to Old M…I mean, Mr. Myers.”

She startled him with her question. “Then why didn’t you let me know about Mr. Myers?”

“I did. I went up to the house and talked to a woman.”

She twisted her head to the right, repeating, “A woman? What did she look like?”

“Actually, a lot like you, but much older like she could be your grandmother with a bunch of blemishes on her cheeks. Kinda like the ones—”

“Do you think you’re funny? There isn’t anyone there that fits that description. You probably went to the wrong house.”

A laugh fell from his mouth before he could swallow it. 

“I’m sure I went to the correct house. It’s the only one on the hill. I apologize that you didn’t get the information.” An abrupt stillness came between them before he continued to say, “That’s all. I just wanted to introduce myself, and let you know that I tried to contact you.”

Ada looked the fearful ogre over, let her mouth stretch to expose a few teeth and then said, “I appreciate the effort. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

There were times when Ada grew restless staring into the mirror, so she left the house in search of friendship. She missed Mr. Myers and his stories about the town and war. Their last meeting still haunted her and she hoped he had swept it away as a bad day.

Ralph seemed to know a lot about Mr. Myers, so Ada befriended him. She sought out Ralph when she ventured out or they met by the stream that divided the church from the rest of town. Ralph had a body of a skyscraper and a whisper of a voice. His size was deceptive. His quiet demeanor also had a twinge of wit. Ada found she liked Ralph a little more than just friends. One day, when she coyly smiled his way, his color darkened and he’d look down as if fearing she’d find out a secret of his.

Their relationship continued as it did in the beginning without any kind of romanticism. Ada started wanting more and decided to come right out and ask of his intentions. The stream gurgled at her feet while she sat, legs bent in front watching the frogs hop from rock to rock. She turned when she heard his solid footsteps.

“Hi, Ada. Sorry I’m late.”

“That’s okay, Ralph. Sit down next to me.”

Ralph’s body tumbled to the ground then he adjusted his position. Ada laughed at his clumsiness and didn’t waste any time finding out how Ralph felt about her.

He took a second look when Ada asked, “Are you attracted to me, Ralph?”  It was a question he didn’t expect hearing, especially from Ada. He noticed something different about her. The blemishes on her face seemed to have a mind of their own; spreading and gathering in different places.

He placed his hand on hers, smiled and said, “I think you are wonderful, and the time we’ve spent together means so much to me. As for being attracted to you—like I’ve told you before—you’re beautiful but…I think we’re better off as friends.”

Ada’s head whipped towards him with eyes searing his skin. Ralph didn’t expect this kind of reaction and his head fell into his shoulders like a turtle. After his initial reaction, he straightened up and attempted to move the strands of hair on her face. She slapped him away, got up and disappeared.

Ralph looked after her—yet didn’t pursue thinking it would make matters worse. He finally turned back to the stream, disheartened by Ada’s reaction and the possibility of their friendship ending.

Ada wrapped herself up in her room. To fill her time at home, she admired her reflection in the mirror while brushing her hair for hours. Days came and went a few times before Ada made it back into town. People stopped what they were doing and watched as she passed by. She looked around, then at her clothing, wondering if she left something misplaced. Everything seemed to be intact, so she cautiously continued on hoping to see Ralph’s face in the midst of the crowds. The townsfolk’s faces scrunched up then fell—turning away from Ada after the sweltering air passed.

Inside a store, the people stared, stepped back from her with fear covering their faces and then finally left without making a purchase. Ada’s head shifted from person to person until it picked up speed swirling around to catch sight of their fears and departures.

Appalled by their manners, Ada began screaming, “What’s wrong with you people?! Didn’t you learn it was rude to stare?!”

Someone yelled back, “Didn’t you even care about Ralph?!”

Ada’s body turned in circles to find the person who said that. From one of the aisles strolled a hefty woman of middle age glaring at Ada with despise.

Her stature made Ada withdraw a bit before she asked, “What do you mean didn’t I care about Ralph?”

“Because he’s dead and you never bothered to come down from your palace to give your condolences. You’re not fooling anyone. We saw you and Ralph sitting by the stream talking for hours.”

Ada’s lips shivered, her arms collapsed to her side and she hunched forward. Her head lowered and she swallowed hard before her voice cracked when she asked, “What? Ralph is dead?”

“Quit pretending you didn’t know.”

Ada’s head lifted with the rest of her body when she responded, “I didn’t! No one tells me anything.”

“Excuse us for not wanting to bother the princess…but lately with the looks of you…I should say old witch.”

Ada’s eyes narrowed as she hissed, “Old witch? There’s nothing about me that’s old. Be careful when allowing jealousy to speak for you.”

The woman laughed then said, “No one speaks for me, especially not jealousy when it comes to you.”

Ada walked up to her, grabbed her arm and with clenched teeth said, “Don’t you dare talk to me like that. Do you hear me?”

The woman struggled to free her arm, but Ada held on tight. Gasps from others echoed through the room with the woman’s screams.  Blood dripped from her arm where Ada’s fingers dug in. Finally, one of the men from outside came in and Ada released her. The woman raised her arm to see the damage Ada caused. She lunged at Ada, but the man moved between them and tried settling the situation.

The woman screamed, “You are evil!”

Ada wiped the blood off her hand with her skirt, glared at the woman and said, “To hell with you,” then stormed off.

Ada lost her only friends. She didn’t ask about how Ralph died, because deep down inside she knew, just like she knew who killed Mr. Myers. Instead of looking for new friendships, Ada spent her time in front of the mirror—singing while brushing her hair. The only difference between day and night was light. No one bothered to check up on her even though the vegetation began to grow out of control, and the house aged. Over time, the townsfolk forgot about Ada and that she occupied the house. The grounds became desolate like the owner.


The house took shape again with a new owner—raising curiosity with the townsfolk. Who is the new owner? What was the name of the old one? Whatever happened to her? The vegetation was contained and every so often, the townsfolk got a glimpse of the new occupant. The new owner always seemed to resemble the last, but the townsfolk could never remember the name—only her exotic nature. 

Ghost Stories and Candy,

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