There’s Someone In My House (Part 3)
13th August, 2010.
“You’re sure you want to live here?” asked Mrs. Murphy.
“Yes, Rose,” replied Kiara, often reminded by Mrs. Murphy to call her by name. “I’m very much sure.”
Rose looked at Kiara for a few moments. Then deciding that she shouldn’t speak about it, she nodded.
“All right, I’ll take you through to Margaret, she owns the home,” Rose said.
She made a phone call, Kiara talked to Margaret and it was decided: Kiara got the house. Rose seemed on the edge all the while, Kiara thought.
Rose looked at Kiara, wondering if she’d ever heard of the rumors that flew free into the houses of people far and wide. Certainly this girl had no clue about it. But Rose wouldn’t warn her. Not when she was being offered 30% of the rent any person would pay for living in Joyce’s home. Margaret had agreed to this deal after Rose had complained to her about the strange screams that echoed in the dead of night since Joyce died, thinking that the money would keep Rose quiet about everything.
“Here are the keys,” said Mrs. Murphy, handing the girl a bunch of keys that jangled a little too loudly. “You have any furniture coming?”
“Oh, no, I’m afraid I don’t,” said Kiara.
“Well, that’s all right. Margaret thought good of letting the equipment remain for future residents,” said Rose with a tiny smile.
“Thank you, err, Rose,” answered Kiara, who thought the woman to appear more eerie when she smiled.
Rose Murphy waddled off to her row house, shaking and vibrating on the way. She stopped at the door, turned to Kiara and waved a wrinkled hand at her, trying to be affable. More out of politeness than a friendly gesture, Kiara waved back.
She went forward to her new house and inserted the key into the lock. It snapped open as if coming back to life with a shock from an electric current. The door eased and turned slowly on its hinges with a tweezing sound. Kiara had to give it a strong push, yet the door swung taking its own time. The house was a shamble.
Stools and desks lay in disarray, a bunch of flowers were strewn on the floor boards, wrinkled, and were bare with the petals speckled in every direction. Mats dangled off the table in a precarious moment, spoons and forks were spread out in a clutter over the surface of the table. Ceramic plates had fallen off the table ages ago, shattered and tread upon, breaking the shards into tinier pieces. The staircase was damaged, too, with the wooden steps broken into, creating a dark abyss under them. Frames and paintings hung diagonal, some of the glass panes smashed to smithereens. Some paintings were torn apart.
Afraid to see how chaos had manifested itself on the floor above, Kiara remained at the door, manipulating over thoughts of going to Rose and apologizing for her decision and returning to Aunt Grace. Then she thought better of it.
It was preferable to clean the place and have her mind distracted from the memories of the past month. And also, she didn’t want to interfere in Aunt Grace’s life anymore. It was better she lived alone and kept her bad luck off other people’s lives. She’d live solitary, and escape from the visions.
She began to clean up, beginning from the entrance to the house where the stools blocked the way inside. When she thought they seemed a little organized, she continued with the dining table. She arranged the forks and spoons, threw the broken plates into the bin and cleaned up the dried jam that looked like Swiss cheese with the ants that had buried holes into the sweet. She slid the mats into place, pushed each chair into its appropriate slot and then turned to the flowers on the floor.
When she was finally done, the afternoon had crept into the night and Kiara still had to finish with the floor above. She collapsed on a torn sofa and debated whether she should ask Mrs. Murphy to have a room for the night or not. Then she got up, walked out the door and knocked on Rose’s door.
“Hello, dear,” greeted Rose. “Any problem?”
“Yeah, well, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind me staying over… just for tonight, I promise,” Kiara added. “The bedroom is an awful mess and I can’t stay up the night cleaning.”
“It’s perfectly fine, dear. I’d be glad!” exclaimed the old woman.
“Oh, thank you so much.”
Kiara ran to her home and changed into a pair of pajamas. Locking the door secure, she raced back to Mrs. Murphy’s and found her way to a room where she could spend the night. She thanked the woman and made sure the windows were fastened close. She didn’t want another bad night.
14th August, 2010.
The morning was a pleasant one, especially after a dreamless sleep. Kiara washed up and went to her new home, remembering that she had the home still in a considerable mess. Sighing at the sight of the upper floor, Kiara got to work, arranging the bed and the pillows, along with replacing the shredded curtains.
She fell back on the bed and gazed up at the ceiling. When the memories of the trance surfaced, she suppressed a scream and shot up, glancing at the window time and again to make sure the hands hadn’t returned.
What kind of people had lived here before her that they made such a state of the house? Probably the reason Margaret gave her the house on such cheap rent because she knew that Kiara would deny living in it in such condition. She shook her head, trying to imagine what the previous tenants must have gone through to make such a shamble.
Probably it was a husband-wife fight that had one of them ruining the house. Or perhaps a girl and a guy in a live-in relationship that went terribly wrong. Maybe it was a thief or a killer who came into the house to kidnap or murder, and left the rooms devastated.
She couldn’t decide.
She searched for a telephone line and found one in the kitchen. Handling the receiver, Kiara dialed the number to her aunt’s boutique after glancing at the time. By afternoon, Aunt Grace was at her daily job, displaying the wonderful dresses that she’d design.
“Aunt Grace?” said Kiara through the phone when a clicking sound determined the call was answered.
“Yes, Kiara?” her aunt’s voice came.
“Yeah, I’ve settled in this little row house. It belonged to some Joyce Rey around here, but, apparently, it’s been given out on rent for the past sixteen years. The caretaker Rose Murphy hinted to me that people haven’t stayed in the house for more than a month, and that every new tenant would leave the house earlier than promised. I found that bit a little strange… Also, to add to this mysterious area, when I entered the house it was such a mess I wondered if I’d ever be able to clear up. Why would a person give a house on rent without providing a maid to clean up?” Kiara rushed.
“Hold on, you’re saying that Margaret woman didn’t even offer you a hand at cleaning up?”
“No, that’s exactly what I’m trying to specify. Even the neighbor seems all spooky to me, Aunt Grace,” Kiara said, now feeling a little jittery since she’d told someone how strange she’d felt since she’d arrived.
“Dear, you want to come back? It’s absolutely all right with me if you do, Kiara.”
Kiara kept quiet. She did feel like going back, but then she didn’t think she could handle those nightmares any longer. And she didn’t really want all that morning worries and nocturnal fears. No, she wouldn’t go.
“No, Aunt Grace. I don’t think I will. Though I’ll let you know everything that goes on, promise. Thank you so much for everything again,” Kiara said, obliged.
“It’s my pleasure, hon; you’re my niece, after all.”
Kiara could almost hear Aunt Grace smile. She cradled the phone into its place when the line went into static and looked around. She hadn’t had a meal since last afternoon. She could do with a snack.
The packet of bread she’d bought on her way, she opened and lathered with butter. Searching for something else that she could add, Kiara went to the larder and opened its heavy doors. All she found was a measly pot of peanut butter that wasn’t obsolete.
She went upstairs with her meal and turned on the old and dusty television that probably could have served its purpose better if it had been fixed and updated with new technology. The images came by fuzzy and often went into the buzz of static, grey and white lines that climbed up and down, ambiguous. Old soap operas droned on as Kiara finished her last sandwich. The music tuned in and out at its own will, the television blinked, conscious and unconscious ever so frequently. A snap sounded in intervals and the table sent off groans and moans under the weight of the pristine TV.
She gave up watching and turned out the switch to the idiot box.
She needed company, and even if it meant meeting Rose Murphy and listening to her go on about her past. Although she’d like to know more about Joyce Rey, the owner of Kiara’s new home. That might give her more background to all the strange stories connected to her home. Yeah, that would be good. Clearing the air would keep Kiara’s imagination under control and she wouldn’t have another crazy dream haunting her nights.
She got up, but then realized that it’d be wrong to disturb a woman so many times so she sat back and stared at the ceiling. That’s when the walls became porous and melted down. The lights blinked on and off for a few moments, then went out entirely. Kiara looked around, thinking that the electricity had gone. At least that’s what she tried to convince herself. What about the walls that had dissolved into nothing?