General Fiction posted October 19, 2016

This work has reached the exceptional level
When you're born into the wrong family

Haunt Me Sweetly

by Maria Jose Garcia

Haunted House Contest Winner 

Everybody in the village knew the house at the end of Dikler Drive was haunted. It had been like that for as long as the oldest inhabitants could remember.

One just had to look at it to notice. The garden was overgrown. So much so, that it was almost impossible to reach the front door without getting stuck in the brambles. The walls were peeling... they hardly had any paint left on them, in fact. From time to time, a tile fell off the roof. A roof where several crows had decided to build their nests long ago. Most of the windowpanes were broken and grimy and the bronze doorknob was long gone. Somebody must have stolen it to add some glamour to his own house, or just for the sake of it.

All that changed, however, when Billy Bennet was dared by his friends to touch the doorstep of the house with his foot.

'You say you're not a coward? Okay. Let's see if you dare go near the old haunted house.'

Billy was petrified, but he was new in the village and he needed friends more than anything else, so he did as he was told and more. He went up to the house and knocked on the door! With his fist. Remember, there wasn't a doorknob.

Surprisingly nothing happened!

A few days went past without further developments, but then it was Billy who dared his friends.

'I'm sure you wouldn't be brave enough to go in and stand in the hall for thirty seconds.'

Tom Owens, who was a big bully and not afraid of anything, accepted the challenge.

He walked towards the house slowly, as he had to stop all the time to disentangle his clothes from the bramble thorns. Finally, he was at the door. The other kids waited with bated breath. He pushed the door open and he walked in... The hall was dusty and full of cobwebs as he had expected, but apart from that it was a normal hall. He counted to thirty slowly, he didn't want the others to think he was a coward. When he finished, he went out into the garden and was greeted by his friends' cheers.

That was the beginning of the end for the haunted house at 15 Dikler Drive. Its reputation was ruined. Two days later, a group of children went past on their way back from school and one of them said,

'Why don't we have a picnic inside the house on Saturday?'

'What a great idea! I'll bring the ginger ale. Who wants to bring sandwiches?'

They kept on walking and thinking what to do on their picnic and who to invite.

That night, while everybody in the village slept, the house sighed. What would her mother say if she learned what had become of her? She'd better call her and tell her herself before she found out through other channels... She would also ask for advice.

'Mother?' she said, when her illustrious progenitor finally answered.

'Matilda! It's good to hear your voice. How are you doing in that little village of yours?'

They had only crossed a couple of words and the jibes had already started. Matilda's mother was an elegant mansion near the sea and she felt far superior to her daughter. She was always reminding her that the great writer, Daphne du Maurier, had got her inspiration from her.

'I'm doing good, Mother. I'm doing good considering...'

'What's that supposed to mean?'

'Well, things have been changing lately?'

'What do you mean, changing?'

'Well, children are not as afraid of me as they used to be...'

'I always knew you'd disgrace the family, Matilda. I've told you once and again you have to make more creepy noises when people come near you.'

'I know, mother. But it's hard to be disliked. I thought the brambles and the lack of paint would do the trick.'

'Well, apparently they haven't. You'd better think of a solution and don't call me till you have. I hope your poor father doesn't find out. It would break his already delicate heart.'

After her mother had hung up, Matilda thought of her father fondly. She hadn't seen him for years. She wondered how he was doing. Not very well, it seemed. It was to be expected, though. Matilda's father was a stone castle on the edge of a cliff and erosion wasn't a kind friend.

Matilda briefly thought of calling him and asking for his opinion, but she didn't want to be a burden. She had a sister who lived in a nearby village, but she was a know-it-all and would make fun of her. She was on her own...

Saturday was only two days away. Matilda's foundations shook with fear. The truth was, she only wanted to be scary because it was in the family. However, she didn't have it in her. She liked children and she wanted to be loved.

On Saturday morning, a group of five happy children approached the house. One little girl looked slightly apprehensive, but the others were chattering and joking.

'Can you imagine how beautiful this garden could be if we removed the brambles?'

'It could become our secret project, like the secret garden in the book.'

'What book?'

'Oh, Tom! You know nothing. I'll tell you later.'

Once inside, the children spread their blankets on the living room floor and put their picnic hampers on top.

'There's too much dust in here. I'm going to sneeze.'

Matilda observed the children. She knew it was time to start wailing and moving furniture around, but the children were having such a good time ... it would be cruel to spoil their picnic.

The boys played tag, but the little girl sat on one of the blankets and looked around.

'I'd love to be able to fix this house. I'd use tissue paper for the windows and I'd clean it all. It would look so beautiful. Then I'd be able to come here and read,' she said in a loud voice.

Matilda listened to her open-mouthed. It sounded like a bright future. She would be loved again. Her garden would be full of flowers... She didn't care what her family thought, this is what she had always wanted. The whole haunted house thing was not for her. Her heart was much too soft.

A year has passed and the village doesn't have a haunted house any more. 15 Dikler Drive is a youth centre now. The walls have been painted yellow to match the roses in the garden. Matilda is happier than she's ever been, even though she's been disowned by her parents.

Haunted House
Contest Winner

Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by LorrainePurviance at

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© Copyright 2018. Maria Jose Garcia All rights reserved.
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