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   Chapter 5 Surprise Findings

Broken Past By Arathi Characters: 7681

Updated: 2018-08-02 08:24

As we step up to the front door, I stop. I can't help think about the mysteries surrounding the house. As if on cue, I picture huge hungry flames raking up the columns and engulfing the roof. Massive clouds of stifling black smoke fill the ever blue sky. A desperate rattling draws my attention towards the windows. My eyes turn into tiny slits as I peer at the glass. Did I just imagine a hand banging on the window? It appears again, only to slide down into nothingness. As quickly as the hand disappears, fire replaces the void and the glass moans before it shatters. Adjoining clapboard sidings creak in protest as red-hot fingers pry their way through the tightly enjoined wooden planks, desperately searching for release.

I am brought back to reality as JT elbows me in the ribs. He wiggles his eyebrows and nods to the keys in my hand. Slowly, I reach forward and slide the key into the keyhole. A soft clink resonates in the silence that surrounds us. It was only then that I realized that both JT and I were holding our breaths. Perhaps we expected something to jump out at us.

A minute passes and nothing happens. I reach out and wrap my hand around the knob and with a small push, put the door into motion. It creaks as it swings open and darkness welcomes us. Something runs across the back of my neck, and I jump. A shriek gets caught in my throat, and I am sure I look terrified. It's only when I turn around and meet JT's mischievous eyes that I realize he was trying to spook me.

"Don't do that, " I say as I swat his arm.

"And here I thought you didn't believe in ghosts Miss Gwen, " he replies chuckling.

I can't help but laugh alongside him. I just bought a house that has been empty for a century. This was not the first haunting rumor attached to it. Nevertheless, I was already psyched out. I mentally kick myself for being so gullible, despite my beliefs, and walk into the house with somewhat renewed confidence.

The interior was exactly the way I remembered from my last visit, except for a new layer of powdery cement, brick dust, and I think sawdust that now proudly shone on the cracked floor, brought on by the minor modification work of course. It seems people here did not clean up after themselves when a job was completed. I groan at the thought of cleaning up this new mess.

Yet again, JT comes to my rescue. As if reading my thoughts he puts a friendly arm around my shoulders and gives me a sideways hug. "Don't worry about the mess, " he says. "Our cafeteria boys know enough women who need jobs as house cleaners. I can have a whole army of them at your doorstep in the morning. This place will look almost new when they're done."

I smile with gratitude. Back in London, a cleaning crew would have cost me an arm and a leg. Living in India certainly has its merits. I plop my bag on the floor, and a cloud of dust engulfs it. I ignore the mess and proceed to give JT the whole tour. I had only seen parts of the house earlier and now, my curiosity was pleading for gratification.

Together, we walk through the several rooms on the floor. They all looked the same. Each one, colored brightly, although the paint now seemed faint and cracked. The floors were all wood, albeit dusty and creaky. Window frames seemed warped in places, and there was no glass in the panes. The bathroom and kitchen were a necessity but stood out like warts. They didn't belong in this old house. Tentatively I walked up to the sink and opened a tap. I sighed with relief when clear water came pouring out. I knew I would have to work on making the new additions look like part of the house, but at least I would be comfortable.

We walk out the back door and make our way towards the spirally stairs. Down we go, with JT leading the way, after insisting he takes my hand, as if afraid I would fa

ll. It was a four-foot drop. I doubt I would have injured myself seriously even if I had tripped. Nevertheless, I smile at his chivalry. London could undoubtedly learn something from my new world.

As we climb down the last step, JT continues to hold my hand, and I let him. His fingers feel warm and reassuring. Having never lived by myself before, the thought of spending countless days and nights in an empty space made me crave for human companionship. We tour the rooms in the lower half of the house quickly enough and then turn to the grounds.

As we round the corner of the house, we meet with a T-crossing. To the left was a barely walked pathway that led to the lower half of the mountain, while to the right were narrow steps that would lead to the front of the house. I turn and see a huge overgrown rose bush creeping up the wall. This must have been what the agent spoke about earlier. Tiny new buds sprouting from crooks on stems told me that the plant was indeed alive. Neglect was equally apparent as well. Branches were a tangled mess of dead twigs, and whatever else the wind blew into the waiting arms of the thorns.

Suddenly I shriek. Something cold, wet and hairy was brushing up against me! I turn around in a huff expecting to see JT's laughing eyes and instead meet huge black eyes; the white's barely showing through. A white patch of fuzzy skin ran down the center and ended in a big black nose. A tongue snakes out and reaches for me at the same time, two big ears wiggle. I laugh as I realize I'm staring at a cow.

"You need to fix the fencing on the property, " JT mages to sputter out while reigning in hysterics that threatened to burst out. He seems to be all cracked up with my reaction.

"Oh ha ha, " I say and take the left turn.

He jogs to catch up with me once he's done laughing. A stupid grin is still plastered on his face. I find myself searching for the dimple.

He mimics my shriek, and I swat him again.

As we tour the grounds, we see four different outhouses. From the outside, they're all similar. Tinned roofs and wooden walls. One small door and window graced each front; there were no windows or doors at the back. In some, the doors had disappeared while in others, they hung by rusty hinges. I wasn't about to step into a tiny place riddled with cobwebs and what not's. So we left these as they were.

Halfway down the mountainside, we came across another relatively flat patch. The clearing was enclosed in Victorian style wrought iron fencing. The gate was closed but was barely straight. Rust covered every inch of what was once a magnificent black palisade. Weeds grew in the center, and two large tombstones peeked out.

For reasons unknown, I was plagued with an immense feeling of sadness. I felt as if my heart were shattering into a million tiny pieces. My eyes were beginning to tear up, and I wanted to scream and cry as though I had just lost a piece of my soul.

JT nudged me forward, but I had had enough. I wanted to turn back. I wanted safety and comfort. Not gloom and melancholy.

We were once again engulfed in silence as we made our way back to the house. "Now what?" JT asks me as we climb the last step.

I stick my hands in my pockets and shrug. I still haven't shaken off the sadness from before.

"Lunch?" he asks, and I agree. I want to be anywhere else but here.

Back at the front door, I search the floor for my bag. I can see its imprint in the dust, but it's no longer sitting where I had left it.

JT taps me on the shoulder and points at the wall. "Looking for that?" he says. My bag is hanging from a nail. Confused, I look back at the floor, and the imprint is gone.

I grab my bag and mentally chide myself. There's no such thing as ghosts. My house is not haunted, and I'm being forgetful. That's all this was!

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