Childhood Memories. Short Story.

I’ve been meaning to do one one of these things at the start of a short story for a while but I keep forgetting. Mostly because I don’t have a load of interesting things to talk about. Perhaps I should take up some kind of death defying hobby or sport. Street racing or Crocodile Baiting, perhaps even Death football. Something dangerous and exciting where I could lose a limb at any moment. I mean I have four of them, I’m sure I could stand losing one. Besides, they grow back right?

I think I’ll stick with my safe hobbies for now anyway. I’ve been meaning to get back into some of my crochet projects too, he said, sounding like an 80 year old woman. Key difference between me and 80 year old women though, I don’t have a bunch of cats. Yet.

I’m pretty sure I’m done rambling for the moment. I’ll try to think of something more exciting for the next one. Something better than my inability to remember I should have gotten a flu shot this year (and last year, and the year before…)

____________________________________________________________

I always hated the smell of Stacy’s house. We usually ended up in her place because her house was easily the biggest and her parents never bothered us. I don’t know if I was the only one who noticed the smell, I always assumed not, but it seemed rude to point it out. It seems weird looking back, I’m sure one of us would have mentioned something when we were having a bitchfest. For the most part it was just Stacy, Gwen and myself. Sometimes we would have fights and the trio would be broken for a few days, but we always made up again. That was until Gwen started dating Travis. He was such a dick and she never wanted to hang out after that, she only ever wanted to hang out with him. A few weeks after we had stopped talking to her the rumours started, vicious, mean things. That Stacy and I were lesbians, that Stacy’s dad was a perv, always spying on us in the bathroom, that kind of thing. After that Gwen was dead to us and, unfortunately she did die a few months after. Travis had decided he was perfectly fine to drive, probably still bragging about how much he had drank when he wrapped his car around a tree.

So then it was just Stacy and me for good. We were always close, but we became even closer. I spent a lot of time in that house, but I never got used to that smell. It wasn’t really a bad smell, just harsh. The smell of cleaning fluids and underneath it a faint coppery tang. Stacy had told us how awful the house had been when they moved in, mould was growing everywhere, the whole place stunk of rotting wood. It explained why her mother was so insistent that everything be clean all the time. The woman would have had an aneurysm if she saw how my family treated my house, which was always in disarray. Not to say we were dirty, just messy people.

As I said, Stacy had the best house, it was big, bigger than the three of them would have needed, I always got the impression that Stacy’s mom wanted to have more kids, she was always really motherly and affectionate to all of Stacy’s friends. Her dad was a little odd, kind of aloof all the time. He had this model train set down in the basement, it was a little weird, the thing was huge, long tracks winding its way through miniature towns, villages and forests. I only saw it the once but even then it creeped me out. The worst part, I think, were the little people that inhabited the towns. Tiny and crudely carved, painted to resemble people. He always referred to them as his little friends too, after dinner he’d announce he was going to “Visit my little friends” then he’d disappear downstairs. I never paid too much attention, everyone needed a hobby, right?

Stacy and I would head off to the den, it was a large room with three couches, soft carpet and a huge TV. Usually we’d talk or watch some movies with popcorn. I liked her house, how quiet it was, it was a little bit out of the way, so you didn’t get the constant drone of traffic that you got in my house. It probably didn’t help that my brothers didn’t seem to really believe in privacy, so it was always difficult to get a moments peace.

I don’t know when Stacy told me she thought her house was haunted, but I do remember it being a theme during our friendship. I never knew if she really believed it or not in the begining, but some nights, when her parents were out, we would hear noises, banging, clanking. It was probably pipes, or so we told each other, but always the fear would build and build until we raced to her room and hid ourselves away, shrieking and screaming before collapsing on her bed in a fit of giggles.

The scariest was the time we actually saw a ghost. We had just run up to Stacy’s room and locked ourselves in, after calming ourselves Stacy started rifling through her CD’s looking for something good. As she searched I looked out the window at the trees in her back garden. Her back garden wasn’t like mine, which was dull and boring, a small square that had been paved over years before. Stacy’s garden was large, massive really, there was a patio with chairs to sit on, a small clubhouse that we never used and a large fountain. At the end of her garden were bushes and large trees, behind their house was a small forest, and the transition was gradual enough that it seemed to just bleed over into the garden. It was quite lovely. At dinner a few weeks before, Stacy’s parents had revealed that they were thinking about putting in a pool, I was thinking about how great it would be when I saw her. She wore a dirty white gown and had pale skin, she was skulking around the back garden, like she was hiding.

“Stacy?”
“What?”
“Come look at this.”
“What is it?”
“Just look.”
Stacy joined me at the window and gasped, and I knew I wasn’t seeing things. The woman was in shadows, it was hard to make anything out, I only had the light from the kitchen to go by. She moved weirdly, a kind of juddery shuffle. I don’t know how long we watched her for, she seemed to be moving towards the woods, but she was going slowly, pausing every step or so. When she was about halfway to the trees she froze and slowly turned around, I don’t know what drew her attention. Suddenly she looked at us, her face was pale with streaks of dark black on it, her eyes were wide and staring, a deep black with bands of white around the edges. we both shrieked and fell backwards, scrambling to hide. There was more some banging again and then the sound of doors opening and closing around the house.

Stacy’s parents came home a few minutes later to find us both hysterical, they calmed us down and after much begging, Stacy’s father went out with a torch after he had searched the house. We sat in the kitchen, drinking hot chocolate while we watched the light bob around in the dark. Finally after fifteen minutes her father came back in. “See girls? Nothing out there.” We finished up our hot chocolate then we went upstairs to bed.

I know we talked for a while, but I can’t remember what we talked about, even though it was really our last proper conversation. I remember one thing though, as we were lying in the dark I could hear Stacy turning over, I knew she was looking at me. “Are you still awake?”
“Yeah.”
“Can I tell you a secret?”
“Sure.”
“You can’t tell anyone”
“I won’t.”
“Ok, well…I think this house really is haunted. I hear banging sometimes and moaning, but no one else does. It’s not just the pipes though, if it was the pipes my parents would hear it but they don’t. Sometimes there’s even screams, but they never last long.”

I went home the next day and everything seemed normal. That night Stacy rang me, she told me that they were moving, that her parents were worried about her, saying she was seeing stuff in the house and that I was a bad influence. They moved a few days later and I never got a chance to see her before they left. I don’t care what her parents said, I know we saw a ghost that night.

I lost touch with Stacy after that, I tried to track her down a few times using facebook and stuff, but I haven’t succeeded. I don’t know, maybe she’s out there and she’ll read this and remember me and all the good times we had together. If you do send me a message, I’d love to catch up!

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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