written by: Debbie Aruta
She lived in that house at the end of the road. You know the one I am talking about. The one that you were told that if you go close enough to it, that it will eat you whole. The gate will open up, swinging out, creaking like jaws ready to chomp and swallow you whole. Yes, that house. It was once a blossoming shade of lilac. It had trestles of roses roaring up all sides of it. It had the perfect white picket fence with an attractive cottage gate, and it exuded beauty. Now due to peeling paint, the sun was killing all the roses, and time decaying it, it now sits gray with distaste gawking at all who even dare to glance in its direction. It tantalizes all with the fear that if you look at it too long you yourself will turn evil. It has been standing in this dilapidated state for what feels like a century. No one really knows how old it is, but it exudes sinister energy and no one dares enter it.
Rumors have spread for decades about that house. The same girl has lived there for decades too. She never ages, which is odd. She looks to be about nine years old for going on three hundred years, well so the rumors go. I am not three hundred years old. I have always wanted to go into that house as a boy. We would dare each other to go into the yard to get our balls when we played baseball out in the street. It was a dead-end street. This haunted looking house sat on the end of it. I wish they would have knocked it down, but I think even the city is afraid of it. The front yard littered with hundreds of great baseballs, kick balls, and soccer balls. It is a shame really. Think of all the playing that could have happened with those balls. They lay in wait to never be touched again. It is sad really, but understandable when evil is present.
The young lady can be seen year-round floating by the windows as a wisp of a person she once was, perhaps a ghost now. The last time anyone actually saw the young girl outside was last Halloween. The curtains never move in the house, it is always dark as a moonless night in the house. When she is outside and visible you can see she has curly blond hair and translucent skin. Halloween is when she can be seen rocking on her front porch. Her eyes move and she follows us playing ball in the cul-de-sac, but never a word. She just rocks. We finish up hastily and go trick or treating leaving her with her haunted house and her rockers and we flee chasing candy. She looks sad to see us go. She gets up as we walk away and floats back through the front door.
One Halloween a tale spread of her floating among the children dressed as ghosts. The rumor was she would hold out her hands for candy and it would fall right through them. That she spewed evil wherever she went and Halloween seemed to only make her do it more. It was said she haunted kids on the street she lived on by sneaking up behind them and when they would turn they would walk right through her leaving black marks on their clothes. It was like they were walking through evil and it left a perturbing smell and mark on them both mentally and physically. Those children, it was said, were sent to orphanages. The whole town supposedly kept sending off their kids to relatives who lived anywhere other than on this horror-stricken street.
I come back to visit my mom now as an adult. She still lives on the same street. Now she tells of people disappearing through the gate to get their balls never to be seen again. She told kids of the tales and the temptress who lives within its walls, but they go into the yard. I imagine that the gate finally got what it wanted and that it now swallows little boy's whole. Perhaps it spits them into the house and she has a playmate now and then. Perhaps the boy never existed to begin with and my mom is just old and cannot remember anymore.
I walk down to the house myself and stare at it. The little girl knows I have returned and comes to the window. I keep glaring at the house in disbelief that it still is standing. How could no one burn it to the ground? Maybe they felt the house gave evil a home and it would stay out of their homes, but all the children when they got to about ten years old would walk or bike to the house to have a look. The house had to be destroyed and the evil within its walls. The little girl goggling up at me looking as if she wants to say something. She remembers me. She is still looking like a nine-year-old girl. I look at her and she knows I intend to end this once and for all. The yard is full of dry patches. There are branches all down on the earth from the trees above. I have studied the paranormal and evil temptresses through my college days. She could feel I was a real threat. I could see a tear fall down her cheek. Somehow I was suddenly standing face to face with her on her porch. I had not walked from the gate, had I? She reached for my hand and I recoiled. She reached again and I let her light touch, touch my arm. She tried to lead me into the house, but fear kept me frozen in time and space. I wanted to see what was inside, but I knew I would never come out. I apologized to her and walked back outside the gate. She had not tried to stop me. She was still crying now, but I threw some kindling down and then tossed a match into it.
I walked away from the house as it caught fire. The whole town was walking towards it, but I was walking away. Everyone ran right past me. They did not question me, look up at me, or even glance in my direction. I knew they all would find out I did it. That I ended the decades of fear, of evil, and they would call me a hero. I walked away with my head held high and went back home to my mom’s. I could not turn the doorknob. I called out to her and nothing. A moment later she came out startled at all the commotion. She began to walk toward the house. I was trying to stop her, trying to get her attention. I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I tried to hug her, trip her, stop her any way I could. She just kept walking to the horror house.
I gave up and just walked by her side. She had a vacant stare in her eyes. She once mentioned knowing the little girl in the house when she was a child, but never said anything about her parents or where they came from or went for that matter. I listened to everyone who was watching the house crisp from the inside out. They watched the half shingled roof fall in, and then the top floor collapses down onto the bottom one. They watched the trees burn in the yard, the gate tossing itself on the fire. It seemed eager to finally rest. The whole community watched everything except me. I did not want praise for finally doing what everyone wanted, but they did not even acknowledge me.
Soon I saw what I feared. The little girl came out of the burning house. No one except me seemed to notice her. She walked through the fire, the yard, and all the people right to me. My heart stopped for a moment. She took my hand this time in hers and said it is time and led me away. I was now a shell-like her and our souls would be forever coupled. She had taken my life with her light touch earlier and now I was doomed to float by her for all eternity.