So, I spent so much time blogging when I first started this, that I forgot to write. So I decided to take a step back for a while and actually write. And that is exactly what I did, even though the holidays did their best to interfere. But I don’t want to leave my followers hanging, wondering what I am going to post next(I’m talking to you Aunt Bridget)
What I have here is the first chapter of a hopeful book. It’s part ghost story, part horror story, with some mythology mixed in for flavor. It has no title, as of yet, but I’ve grown accustomed to calling it UNWANTED CHILDREN.
I hope you enjoy it, and as always … any feedback is appreciated.
The rain fell continually, a never ending, wet mess on an already gray day. The wipers on the Toyota swish-swashed back and forth and Jack’s eyes were glued to them. The radio was playing, but he wasn’t listening to it; all he heard was that swish-swashing and the gentle rata-tat-tat of raindrops on the roof.
“You could have sat up front,” Mary said from behind the wheel. She peeked back at him while stopped at a light. Jack didn’t seem to be listening to her—which was not unusual for an eight-year old. He seemed transfixed, his little mouth open as he peered pass her. “Jack?”
His eyes blinked and he looked at her, a confused look on his face. “Hmmm?” he muttered. She smiled at him, his little nose running and his cheeks flushed.
“You could have sat up front … with me, if you wanted,” she repeated.
“No,” he said softly. “I’m okay.”
“But it’s such a long drive … aren’t you lonely back there?”
“No,” he said, looking at the empty seat beside him. He was always doing that—she thought—looking at what was assumedly nothing. He was always quiet—the past few days that she spent with him. But sometimes she would catch him whispering to himself.
She comes across many types of kids—though— working in social services. Some are angry and others distraught. She thought Jack was probably the most peculiar of them all. He never got angry, never once cried; he only remained in a sort of quiet solitude.
She had mentioned it to her supervisor, thinking he might benefit from more therapy, but she was overruled. It’s not your job to coddle the children—she was told—only help them in this transition. She felt bad for the little guy, though—the lone survivor from a terrible car crash.
If only she could take him home with her, maybe she could make him happy. But Mary knew all too well how her husband would react. He had always joked with her about how one day she was going to bring one of her kids home like it was a stray puppy.
But Jack was different. She had never felt so drawn to any of the other kids. Most of them would only be in the system temporarily, until their family homes had been corrected or a family member taken them in. But for Jack this would not be the case.
He would always be an orphan and with the way things were going these days, he might never find a permanent home. Thank goodness for people like the Bowmans—she thought—always opening up their huge home to unwanted children.
Most of the time the children would only be there shortly before being claimed or running away. That happened more and more recently—children running away. They were the tough kids, though, the ones that had anger issues and came from broken homes—the ones that never stopped fighting.
She looked at Jack through the rear-view mirror, watched him as he gazed to his left at that empty seat. He wasn’t whispering then, but she knew that he would eventually. What does he think he sees there?
She sat there beside him, as she did most of the time. Her hair was blonde and straight, just as it had been while she was alive. “Are you scared, Jack?” she asked him. He only shook his head a bit, not wanting Mary to see him.
“Don’t be,” she told him, placing her cold hand on his. She was quiet again, staring at him with her eerie eyes. She looked like his sister Mattie, but only different. Her eyes and skin seemed paler, even her hair seemed a duller shade of yellow.
But he still called her Mattie. She was always there when he needed her; his big sis. She made him promise not to tell anyone about her. “They’ll lock you up,” she always told him, “and throw away the key.” He wouldn’t say anything, he hardly spoke anyhow.
It had been over a month since the car accident. He woke up scared and alone in a hospital room, all sorts of wires and tubes in him, surrounded by beeping equipment. Mattie was sitting there, but she had been dead for hours—he just didn’t know yet.
He didn’t cry much, not when he was told that his mommy and daddy were dead. He barely even blinked. Having his sister there made it all better. She never said she was a ghost, but what else could she be.
She smiled at him and he smiled back.
* * * *
The car pulled up a long driveway that seemed to climb higher and higher. There were trees on either side of it and their long, willowy branches dragged along the top of the Toyota. Mary seemed nervous—not accustomed to the incline.
The trees kept the small driveway dark and unnoticeable—like a secret in plain sight. Up ahead the trees broke away and there could be seen a large house that looked like the ones in old horror movies. Jack’s tummy tightened at the sight of it, but he could still feel his sister’s cold touch.
There was barely any trees near the house on the hill, only small, flowery bushes and grass that seemed to turn brown as it edged towards the house. The one thing that drew Jack’s attention was a small play set in the rear of the large gray house. Even on a drab day like that day, it was a welcome sight.
“See,” his sister said to him. “It’s not all bad.”
“I know it looks scary, Jack,” Mary said as she pulled the car into the gravel circle that sat before the house. “But it’s really a great place … and there’s lots of kids to play with.”
The house was scary, Jack knew. It looked like a skull, smiling at him with shuttered windows for teeth. His sister looked at it, too—she could see something, but she never would say to him. He could see she was scared. He wanted to ask her why she would be scared, but when he looked back to her she was gone.
He already missed the cold touch of her hand. “Here we are,” Mary said as she put the small car in park. She turned back at him and saw that look. “It’ll be okay, Jack,” she said with a sympathetic smile. “I promise.” Her words did nothing to ease his thoughts.
She opened her door, letting the cold air of fall whip through the car. Jack stayed in the car, looking up at the house. Mattie appeared in the yard, staring up at it as well. She didn’t wave to him or anything, just glared at the big, gray house.
Jack’s door opened and Mary held her hand out to him. He took it and slid out of the car, the hood of his coat hanging down his back. They walked to the front steps together and Mary carried his couple of bags in her other hand.
Jack looked at his sister as they passed her, but she didn’t seem to notice them—just stared at the house, a look of worry on her face. The door opened at the front of the house and a tall woman stepped out. She smiled with big teeth, the gray of her age betraying her youthful face.
“Hello, Mary,” she said as she stepped down to meet them “I’m glad to see you made it okay.”
“Hi, Mrs. Bowman … your directions were great.”
“You must be Jack,” she said, stepping down the stairs. She knelt before him, placing her hands on his shoulders. She looked him over, all the while smiling with those big teeth. “I hope you make yourself at home,” she said.
“I don’t like her,” Mattie said from behind him. “I don’t like the way she looks at you.”
“Not much of a talker, huh?” Mrs. Bowman said with a chuckle.
“Not at first,” Mary said, “But he’ll warm up to you.”
“No matter, I’m sure he’ll be chatting away with the other kids in no time. I’ve got to go take a casserole out of the oven, if you can show yourselves into the living room.”
Mary began to follow her up the steps and Jack went as well. He stopped at the top of them when he noticed his sister was not beside him. He turned around and saw her stuck in the middle of the yard like one of the bushes. Mary had gone in alone, so Jack ran down the steps and to his sister’s side.
“Aren’t you coming?” he asked her gently. She didn’t look at him … her eyes stayed on the house.
“I don’t think I can,” she said.
“The house doesn’t want me to come in,” she looked at him, her eyes more worried than he had ever seen them. There was a quiet terror in her face. “It says ‘I’m not one of its own’.”
“Houses don’t talk,” he said quickly.
“This one does.” She hugged him, her cold arms around him. “I’ll try to sneak in later,” she whispered in his ear. She held him awhile, not wanting to let go. “Promise me something,” she whispered again.
“Stay out of the dark.”
“Jack,” he heard from the house. Mattie was gone again and Jack looked up to see Mary, where she stood on the porch. “You coming in? … It’s cold out.” Jack walked up the steps wordlessly, giving Mary a grim look.
Seeing that little look, Mary wished she could have put him back in the car and taken home with her—she was so close to doing so. She could explain it to her husband, Bill—make him understand. They could clear out that spare room that had many supposed purposes, but was never once was used. They could put a bed in there with a dresser, maybe a desk where he could do his homework.
But that didn’t happen. She couldn’t do that now anyway—too many things had already been put in play. The system is a hamster wheel and it’s hard to get off it when it has begun to spin. So they went into the house—the big, dark one … with teeth.