We turned down our new street with Beth smiling and Tommy and Amanda in the back seat screaming “we’re home.” I was not sure how far ahead of the moving trucks we were. At least we would have a chance to just look our home over once more before we filled it with our life. A man and a woman walking a setter waived as we drove past. The road ended with a dead-end and there were only a few other homes on the street which was one of the selling points for us. There was the age difference though, our home being almost one hundred years old and the others all being built in the last few years. Our realtor had told us that it was once a large estate and that parcels were sold off over time with a stipulation on when anything could be built. Anyway, we were happy to have the street’s crown jewel, a magnificent Victorian.
The loose rock in the long driveway crackled as we turned in. The driveway was about three hundred yards long and wound around to the right of a beautiful stand of large maple trees. You could not see the house from the road. It wasn’t until you rounded the maple trees that our home could be seen. A hawk flew in front of our CR-V and landed up high in the tree farthest in from the drive. “Wo-o-o-o, did you see that?” Tommy asked. “Yes, I imagine we’ll see plenty of birds and animals out here Tommy” Beth answered.
We rounded the stand of trees now and the house stood, in the distance, on three acres of land. The grand front porch stood out to me, and Beth agreed this was a fine outdoor space. We were pulling up now just in front of the house. The front door was centered, with large windows on each side. The roof of the porch was ornamented with spandrels. Ornate woodwork adorned the entire exterior in classic Victorian fashion with the crowning turret on the left end of the house.
Tommy and Amanda had already unfastened their seatbelts and were out of the CR-V. Amanda yelled “we are going around back to the tire swings!” “Go on in, I’ll be around back” Beth said looking back in the car at me. She turned and headed around to the back with Amanda and Tommy. I was still sitting in the car and turned my attention back to looking at the front of the house. I got out, closed the car door, and headed up the steps of the front porch towards the front doors. When I placed my foot on the boards of the porch, I had a twisted déjà vu moment. The house seemed very familiar like I had been here before, but that was the only thing that was familiar.
The feeling quickly passed and I slid the key in and turned the knob to the right opening the front door to my dream house. I entered the foyer with doors to the library open to the right. Straight ahead was the main stair case that led to the upstairs bedrooms and sitting rooms. To the left was a side hall that went back towards the second stair case that led to the turret. I turned my attention back to the right, and entered the library. I immediately noticed the portrait hanging next to the fireplace. “Why in the world did they leave the portrait?” I said aloud to myself. It had to be a family member, a stoic woman, with no smile, bright eyes that looked through you, short hair. No one ever smiled in portraits of that era. Something to do with long exposure times, I was once told. Her dress had a lace white collar. Why would they have left it, I thought to myself this time. Beth didn’t like it so I would have to take that down before she comes in with the kids. I walked back through the rear library doors to another large room, I believed to be used as a formal dining room. I walked to the rear of that room to the window and looked back at Beth, Tommy and Amanda playing on the tire swings.
I turned and headed back to the library. A cold chill came over me as I entered the room. I now noticed a book at the far corner shelf. I hadn’t noticed it before and there were no books that I remembered when we first toured the house with the realtor. I went over to the book and pulled it off the shelf. There were no markings on the spine so I opened it. It seemed to be a diary or journal, very old, worn, with browned pages. As I flipped through the pages, I heard, no, I felt whispers. I could not tell if they were of a man or a woman. I could not tell what the whispers were saying nor could I feel the presence of anyone. The hair on the back of my neck was standing up now. It was if electrical static was filling the room. I flipped the pages back and forth looking for any indication of who’s diary this was. I was interrupted by a sound coming from the left end of the house.
I called out “Beth?” There was no answer. I walked out of the library, through the foyer and called again, “Beth?” There was no answer. I heard footsteps on the left staircase that led up to the turret. There was a small room up there that the kids loved when we had shown them the house for the first time. I called up the stairs, “Hello?” There was still no answer. A door at the top closed, or at least that is what it sounded like. I was feeling pretty freaked out, but thought Beth must have been playing on my natural fears that she always played with to give me a good scare. I headed up the stairs at a quickening pace, but slowed as I got to the top. I stood motionless and silent, listening. I heard nothing.
I slowly opened the door that I thought had just been closed. There was a woman with her back to me. I said, “excuse me, hello.” She turned slowly. It was the woman from the portrait. She started towards me. “Welcome home darling, where have you been?”
I rose up, quickly with a gasp, waking Lori up. She turned to me. “Are you, all right?” “What’s the matter?” I wiped the cold sweat off my forehead. “Yes, I am ok, it was just a dream. The recurring one about the house.” Lori said “The same house as always? Different location and family as always, and the same woman as always?”
“Yes” I said.
“Did you figure out who she is this time?”
We both tried to get back to sleep.