M L Gammella’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: Dream House
They had finally done it. After saving every extra penny and dollar they could, they finally bought their dream house. It was an older home, one of the oldest on the block, with narrow stairs, built in cabinets, and shelves that weren’t found in modern homes anymore. It was one of the many things that drew them to the house.
Emily especially loved the pocket doors that separated the formal dinning room from the living room and foyer. Sure, they didn’t really need a formal dinning room but the house had such charm, she couldn’t say no. Craig felt the same. He loved the large backyard and imagined all the barbecues they could have and their future kids running around playing with the family dog.
So it was a no-brainer for them when they put an offer down. They heard the stories about the house, about things that had happened years before, but they didn’t put any weight on them. They even laughed over it -- the irony that a ghost that allegedly haunted the house was named Emilia. People had lived happily in the house since then without incident. The stories were just that, stories ... the kind of tales told to kids at Halloween to scare them.
The first week they were in the house, they eagerly kept an eye out for anything supernatural, curious to see if their ghost would ever materialize. It became a game for the happy couple, with every bump or odd noise that they heard, they giggled and mouthed ‘Emilia.’ When nothing appeared, they shrugged their shoulders and went on with their life.
A few months after they moved in, they were in their favorite spot of the house, the narrow stairwell connecting the first floor and the second floor. The stairway proved to be quite a pain when moving furniture, but it was a perfect spot for them to unwind and relax with a cup of tea.
Emily sat with her legs tucked over top Craig’s lap and her hair was piled loosely on her head. Craig looked tired, the day had been long and frustrating, plus he hadn’t slept well. The warmth from the teacups was soothing for both of them.
“So what’s the plan?”
Craig signed and ran a hand through his hair. “I’m not sure. John said that the implementation needs to be completely revamped and so now we need redo what took us six months to create in a matter of weeks.”
“Oh jeez, that sounds horrible.”
“It’s a part of the job. Stuff like this happens; it’s not desireable but it happens. We’ll get through it one way or another.”
Emily sipped her tea cup, swirling the remaining contents gently around. “That’s a good way to look at it. Certainly more productive than what Roger tends to do.”
Craig chucked as he drank the last of his tea. “Yeah, he’d rather complain about the problem to everyone and anyone who will listen instead of just doing something about it. That’s why he’s still just a tech and hasn’t been promoted.”
Emily laughed as she started to unwind herself from Craig. They both jumped when a loud crack reverberated from somewhere on the second floor.
“Jesus, what the hell was that?” she asked, clutching her teacup tightly.
“I’m sure it was just the wind or maybe Emilia blowing a door shut. I think the upstairs windows were open,” Craig said lightly, putting the incident behind him.
Emily smiled and continued downstairs to the kitchen to clean up before bed. While she was washing their teacups, she heard the shower start. An idea popped in her head, making her blush and finish up as quickly as possible.
With a spring in her step, Emily hurried up the steps, pulling her sweater over her head. She had just tossed it to the side when she thought she heard someone, someone other than her husband.
No one answered her although she could hear Craig singing badly in the shower. Feeling uneasy and her amorous mood broken, she continued up the steps and grabbed her sweater from the floor.
When she walked into their bedroom, she noticed that the windows were closed. Emily shrugged and put her clothes in the hamper and changed for bed. She had just slipped her robe on when the doorknob from the bathroom jiggled several times.
“Em, are you in the bedroom?” Craig’s voice called out from the other side of the door.
“Yes, Craig. What is it?” she called over her shoulder, running a bristle brush through her hair.
“The door isn’t opening. Is it locked on your end?”
“No, I don’t think so, but let me check.”
Emily put her brush down and walked to the bathroom door. As she reached out to try the knob, the bedroom curtains billowed out fiercely, yet the window was closed.
“What the ...”
She stepped back from the door as the curtains continued to whip around the room. Craig continued to try to open the door but it was not working.
“Emily, is it locked? Can you open it from your side?”
She turned to answer him and didn’t see what was approaching her until it was too late.
A pale apparition appeared before her, the edges of the phantom woman’s dress swirling around as the curtains danced. The woman did not look happy.
“Wh-who are you?” Emily whispered as she took a step away from the approaching specter. “Are you Emilia?”
The ghost did not respond. Her face twisted into a snarl and the wind continued to build, blowing small items off of Emily’s dresser. Emily was too frozen in fear to do anything but watch the perfume bottles and eye shadow compacts fall to the floor and shatter. She couldn’t believe this was happening.
Emily’s heart was pounding so hard, she was afraid she might have a heart attack. She didn’t know if she should run or fight, or if she could even fight a ghost. Then there was Craig. Emily couldn’t run and abandon Craig to fend for himself.
Craig’s voice cut through the racket in the room as he tried the door again. The ghost’s eyes flicked over past Emily’s shoulder to the door behind her. Her expression melted from hate to longing. Emily’s blood ran cold.
“No! You stay away from him!” Emily hissed, drawing the ghost’s attention back to her.
The apparition’s face twisted in fury and the temperature in the room dropped about twenty degrees in a matter of seconds.
“Go! I don’t know why you are here, but go! Leave this place!’ Emily shouted, feeling emboldened by her success in distracting the female ghost from her husband.
The ghost smiled, her expression saccharine while her eyes glittered. She raised her hands and the curtains tore from their rods and began flying across the room. Emily ducked as one flew by her head. She stood, looking to confront the horror that was destroying her bedroom.
With a howl, the ghost flew straight at her. Emily screamed and covered her face before everything went dark.
“Wow, Emily, that door is certainly tricky. I’ll have to find our WD-40 and oil that before one of us gets stuck in there again,” Craig said as he walked out of the bathroom, scrubbing a towel across his wet head.
“I’m sure it’s in the garage.”
“You coming to bed, sweetheart?”
“Yes, dear, just finishing with my hair.” She looked in the mirror and fluffed her hair, so different than what she was used to dealing with.
“It looks great, it always does.”
“Thank you,” Emilia said, as she climbed into bed and ran her hands over Craig’s chest. This body would serve its purpose indeed. She couldn’t wait to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh again. It had been far too long.
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