Our House


Photo Credit: AugustMorgueFIle 1385913133hxuxw

The outsiders saw only what they wanted to see. A hollow shell of what once was a beautiful farmhouse. They do not hear the children’s laughter, the hours of piano and violin lessons that took place in the living room, or the hundreds of nights spent listening to father reading the good book. No, they only see what they want to see.

They come and go, but none stay long. One look at the outside and they leave. We watch from the window as they step from their cars and look at our beautiful house. Occasionally, one will venture through the door, or climb in the window the way Charles liked to do before the illness came. We try to be polite and welcome them to our home, but they never stay long either.

Charles and I sit in the front room and wait. We look outside and strain our ears trying to hear father coming down the lane in the carriage. Mother went to town and has not returned yet, either. So, we sit and wait. And we watch as visitors stop and peer at our beautiful house.

This 189-words story was written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner #43


Like Father, Like Son

Andrew loved his captain’s bed. It had plenty of storage for all his little bits and bobs, and even a few secrets.

As a child, he kept his room nice and tidy. Apple and cherry blossom filled his room in spring, and cinnamon and spice in the fall. Things started to change when he hit ten years old. His windows were closed unless his mother opened them, and the room took on a musty smell that permeated everything.

“He’s becoming a teenager,” his father would say. “He’ll outgrow it the first time he wants to bring a girl home.”

Years passed and things did not improve. In fact, they got worse. The musty smell turned fowl and no amount of air freshener could remove the stench.

“He’ll outgrow it,” his father insisted.

His mother was not so sure. “How do you expect to have friends over,” she said one afternoon.

“I don’t care if they come over or not.” Andrew laid on his captain’s bed and stared at the ceiling.

Finally when Andrew had left home for fall term at the State University, his parents too advantage of the opportunity to clean and air out his room. They bought a bolt cutter and finally saw the state of his room. They opened the windows for the first time in years and let fresh air drift through the room.

They let the room sit and air out over night, but the smell had not improved. His mother removed all the bedding while his father scraped the dirty clothes off the floor with a shovel. Still no improvement.

“He probably just left food under his bed like teenagers do,” his father said.

His mother sighed and shook her head. She pulled out a drawer and a small animal’s skeleton came with it.

She screamed. His father looked at the bones and tiled his head. “Stay here.”

He returned a few minutes later with a flashlight. He pulled out all four drawers and found his son’s hidden stash. There were family pets, neighborhood cats, a few birds, and what appeared to be a small, partially decomposed child.

His mother screamed and cried looking at what her son had done.

“Chip off the old block,” his father said, smiling.

The Demon

Rachel liked school. No, she loved school. It wasn’t the teachers, or the playground, or her classes that she liked. In fact, she hated those things. She loved school because it wasn’t home. Nothing was worse than home. Her father left shortly after she was born. Who could blame him? She would have left too if she could, but she was still under eighteen and had to stay.

Her mother was a religious freak. She took her version of the Bible very seriously. Rachel once looked at all the Bibles in the library, but none were like her mother’s. The Bible went everywhere her mother went. Anytime she saw something she didn’t like, she would fling it open and start reading silently from it as if she was trying to ward off some demon.

Everyday her mother would pick her up from school, then drive straight over to Three River’s Church where they would spend the next four hours praying for Rachel as if she were dead or some spawn from hell. Rachel hated her life and couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and leave. Six more years was all. Exactly. Since it was her twelfth birthday, she only had six years…2190 days…52560 hours to be precise.

After church, they ate dinner and Rachel started her homework. Who would have thought that doing English homework would set her mother off, but it did.

“How dare you read that filth,” she screamed.

“Mom, it’s Bridge to Terabithia.”

She ripped the book from Rachel’s hands. “This book supports the devil!”

“What? Have you ever read it? No, it doesn’t!”

Rachel knew she crossed the line the moment the words slipped from her mouth. Not only do you not say no to Meredith Howell, you never, ever, challenge her opinion of something.

Rachael closed her eyes as her mother beat her with the rod of wisdom that her Bible said would beat the devil out of any one. Only this time, she didn’t stop until Rachel stopped moving. She stopped breathing.

Her mother stood over Rachel’s body and dropped the iron rod. She smiled. Rachel was in a much better place now. Just like Rachel’s father. They both bore the same expression when they died. They had finally found peace from the demon that resided in them. The demon she saw every time she looked at them.

She poured herself a glass of sun-brewed tea and calmly planned where to hide her daughter’s body. Rachel’s fingers twitched unseen under her body. Then her toes. Her eyes opened. The rug looked very different from that position. It looked like a sea of red grass. Red. Very fitting, Rachel thought.

Her mother screamed as Rachel rolled over and stood up. Rachel grinned as tea spilled over the dinner table.

“You were right about one thing, Mother.”

Her mother’s mouth opened but no words came out. The only thing she could muster was a small gurgle.

“There was a demon in this house.”

The chair slammed to the floor and the room filled with sounds of scraping wood on tile as her mother tried to flee.

“You’ve been bad, Mother. You were supposed to protect me from the demon. You didn’t do your job. Now, your boss wants to have a word with you.”

Frantic calls to 9-1-1 from concerned neighbors flooded the system at 9:17 p.m.. By the time the police arrived all that was left of the house was a burned shell. No bodies were ever found. Neighbors report seeing Rachel sitting in the ruins of her house smiling, laughing, and playing with toys while a beautiful woman combs her hair and sings. She was finally free. The demon could no longer hurt her — or her mother.

It Wasn’t A Peanut

Angel and Paul were enjoying their first date at the Midnight Movie Marathon at Tower Theater. Two movies in and neither on them grew tired of the other. He was much nicer than all her other dates. She hoped she wouldn’t mess this one up.

After they ran out of popcorn, Paul snagged some M&M’s from the concession stand. She didn’t normally eat the peanut ones, but that was the only ones they offered. The first few were good…fresh…melt in your mouth wonderful.

The fifth one was not a peanut. One bite told her that. It was squishy. It was gooey. It was the foulest thing she had ever put in her mouth since Davey bet her two dollars to eat the rotten egg when they were six.

Quick, she thought, get rid of it. But where? If she spit it out, Paul would think she was gross and leave. If she hurried up and ate it, she might survive. On the other hand, if she just swallowed it whole, then maybe she wouldn’t have to actually taste it any more than she had already.

She opted for route three. With a large swig of her drink, a few quick gulps, and a cough, it was down. The rest of the night was as great as the first half was, and she didn’t give the bad candy a second thought.

That was until the following week when she had a tickle in her throat. No amount of water helped. Crackers didn’t help. Coughing didn’t help. In fact it made the tickle worse. She went to bathroom and looked in the mirror. Maybe she had some of her Shredded Wheat stuck in a back tooth.

As she turned on the light and opened her mouth, she was sure she saw a tail slither back down her throat.