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The House

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

(Happy Spooky Season & welcome to the first Fiction Friday! I'm starting a new segment where every Friday I post a new short story. Since October means Halloween is coming up, these first few will be ~spooky~ but hopefully entertaining too! Enjoy & love y'all!)


Patter patter.


The rain drummed a quiet, steady beat against the window. The night sky screamed with cold wind that rattled the wrought iron gates, like a warning to the house of its power. Thunder rumbled inconsistently as bolts of light struck the earth far away.


Laila leaned against the window, staring out at the grounds with a sigh as her cheek pressed against the icy cold glass. She closed her eyes and listened, ears straining to find music and meaning in the strong storm. The sounds of loud arguing from the floor below made her try to listen to the rain even more.


The rough, cruel voice of her father contrasted painfully with the consistently indifferent airy voice of her mother. Rage met mockery as Laila’s parents continued to make a scene.


They thought she was asleep. That’s what Laila told herself at least. Better to think that, than to acknowledge their internal changes as being so strong it overruled any paternal instinct to protect her from their verbal violence.


“Are they still going at it,” a soft voice asked.


Laila only nodded, not bothering to turn around.


“How long?”


She sighed, finally turning away from the window. “Since the last guest left. But it was building all through dinner.” Laila absently pulled the shiny blue ribbon from her straight black hair & tossed it to the dusty ground. “You could see it in their eyes. It was like their hearts were freezing over.”


Her companion hummed thoughtfully without a trace of pity to Laila’s melancholy. But that wasn’t a surprise.


The girl, as Laila referred to her, never seemed to show much emotion. Not in the eight months that she had known her had the girl ever seemed surprised or bothered by the sudden change Laila's parents had exhibited as their tempers rose and flared.


She looked not much older than Laila, around 16, although she knew the girl had existed far longer than that. In the empty, cobweb-covered attic, she seemed to belong more than Laila did. The girl crossed the room and sat next to Laila by the window without a sound or footprint appearing in the dust.


Her translucently pale skin had startled Laila the first night she appeared when she woke up in the middle of the night to see somebody hovering by her bed. Despite the darkness of her room, Laila had realized she could see straight through the girl.


Laila had asked her what her name was and she had simply replied that she couldn’t remember. Laila asked about her family, but the abruptly dark expression on her face dissuaded her from prying. If her parents saw the girl, they never mentioned it, so Laila never mentioned her to them either.


She never asked the girl if she was a ghost, for that would be rude. But the perpetual hollow sadness in her grey eyes and the never changing outfit she wore confirmed her suspicions. And the fact she never walked, only floated-- sometimes through her on accident.


Laila hated when she did that- it was always such a cold and empty feeling.


The girl's see-through, fine hair floated gently as she turned her head to look at Laila. Her Victorian-era dress remained in a perpetual state of being smooth and unwrinkled and could have been viewed as charming if the dark black & grey of it didn’t remind Laila so much of a funeral.


The fight below them escalated and the sound of a chair crashing to the ground made Laila frown.


The girl placed her hand on Laila's. Neither one acknowledged her shiver as the girl's hand fell through Laila's solid one and filled her with the familiar chill.


“You should leave this house,” the girl stated in a matter of fact tone.


“I know.”


They were quiet as they listened to the rain and the fighting.


“They never acted like this before,” Laila finally said. They had had this conversation many times but still she felt the need to defend her parents. “It’s the house.”


“It is,” the girl agreed with a short nod.


Laila bumped the image of the girl's leg with hers, ignoring the chill of her spirit.


“You should leave,” the girl repeated. “You should leave now.”


“Yes.” She winced at the sound of more shouting followed by a door slamming. “They should leave too.”


“You know they can’t,” the girl said with no sympathy in her voice. “The house won’t let them.”


“Well,” Laila flicked her dark eyes to her. “Then I guess I can’t leave either.”


The girl frowned irritably as she met her stare. “You know in a few months, that will be true.”


“I know.”


“Good,” the girl said, still seeming annoyed by her lack of self-concern.


There was silence in the house as the rain continued to cry outside.


“It’s a nice house,” Laila said quietly.


“No it’s not.”


Laila shrugged. “I guess not.”


The girl leaned her head against Laila's, taking extra care to not pass through as they sat together side by side.


“It could be nice. Maybe you’ll make it nice,” she said.


“Maybe.” Laila listened to the house creak ominously. “Maybe not.”


“You should leave,” the girl said again, sounding quietly defeated

.

“I know.” Laila tilted her head so they looking at each other before she closed her eyes. “I just want to listen to the rain a little longer.”


The girl glanced at the dark corners of the attic warily, as if she was gazing at a dangerous predator before nodding. “Okay.”


The rain continued on its steadfast journey, each droplet slamming against the empty, dark building like a bullet. The house itself seemed to grumble & groan like a hungry beast slowly coming to life.


But for now, in the attic, all was still & quiet.

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