Skeleton in the Closet

Since many of you in the Northern hemisphere are celebrating Halloween this week, I thought I’d break from the norm and offer up a ghost story.

Sadly, I wasn’t born with a sixth sense, so I can’t really say I know what its like to see ghosts.  However, what I lack in psychic abilities I seem to make up for in my freaky dreams.  If they’re anything to go by, I’m rather glad I missed out on that sixth…

Dad and I arrive at a place a long way from nowhere – bare paddocks of dry grass and thistles.  And as Dad proceeds to share his vision, I feel a rising sense of unease.

It’s not bad…it’s got a good outlook.
The ground’ll need a bit of work, but – bit o’ lime an’ blood an’ bone – away you go!
A market garden here, an’ some fruit trees over there.  Maybe a bramble bush or two…
The house is not too bad, either – a bit of patching up, that’s all.  Good as new…

By now we’re standing among the ramshackle remains of an old farmhouse.  And by that I mean, ruins.

There are remnants of an old stone chimney, and nearby, half a house where the roof, in parts, has fallen in.

“Are you sure you want to go to all that work?” I ask.

It had potential, maybe.  Once.  A century or so ago.

We wander through the house as Dad dreams the Great Australian Renovator’s Dream.

There’s a dark dining room, and a servery window to the kitchen – a place for Mum to serve the meals, it seems.

“Where will you live in the meantime?”  I ask.

Absentmindedly, I pull out a long drawer from under the servery window.

“…elp me, help me…” come the pathetic cries of a sinewy body, dressed in a white bonnet and frock, that lies in the trundle shaped drawer.  Boney fingers claw at my face, too weak to lift her frame, “Help me!”

I shriek, jumping back from her reach.  She slumps and rolls her sunken eyes at me, fingers weakly grasping at the air.   “Help m-.”

I slam the drawer shut, unable to breathe.  We have to get out of here.

I rush through a gaping doorway to what once might have been an open, thriving kitchen.

Half of the room adjoining an outhouse is now a weed infested courtyard.

The other half – the corner with the servery window – still has a roof.

Dad stands there.  He talks as if nothing is wrong.

It’s quite alright.  A roof over our heads, that’s all you need…

But in the corner, below the servery window, where a benchtop should have been, is the sinewy body of a woman lying in an exposed drawer, dressed in a bonnet and frock, clawing at the air and crying, “Help me!  Please, help me!”

“Dad, you can’t buy this place,” I say.

Only, in his own trance, he was deaf to the tune that invaded my waking nightmare.

I realised then what happens when we find ourselves trapped in someone else’s dream…

Work your fingers to the bone, whadda ya get?

Boney fingers…
Boney fingers…

-Hoyt Axton, 1974 

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Do you see ghosts?

___________________________________________________

Images under public domain by Vincent Van Gogh, courtesy wikipaintings.org, appearing as follows:

Barn with moss covered roof (1881)
Kettle over a fire and a cottage by night (1885)
Head of an old peasant woman with white cap (1884)
Skeleton (1886)

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Alarna, we are new to your blog, courtesy of 4 a.m. writer, and are already fans. Absolutely loved the post! A perfectly haunting tale, for this time of year and written beautifully. As for Van Gogh, I think he would have approved in this case. Looking forward to your future posts.

    • says

      Thank you so much – how lovely to meet you from 4am writer, who I also enjoy! I’ll take your word for it on Van Gogh – his early works are certainly haunting. See you over in your ‘corner’ soon, and many happy returns to you for Halloween :)

  2. says

    My older five-year old twin son blindsided me yesterday; I was serving breakfast and as I sat his plate in front of him he shrieked, “Oh Em Gee Mom!”

    …I NEVER use acronyms while speaking, and I have no idea where he learned this. I thought this phrase was reserved for post-pubescent (female) teenagers.

    The comment was both startling and delightful in its unexpected and sudden ingenuity. I couldn’t help but love it.

    That’s very much the feeling I experienced again, while reading this post. Startling, unexpected; a minefield of bright burning synapses and wavelengths. You took us on a fun ride. Love it.

    • says

      Hahaha…Your son sounds like he’s inherited a bit of your spark there, Brandy…though it is scary to think where they pick this stuff up! Do you watch Modern Family? It sounds like a line out of there :)

      Wonderful – loving the ride you just took me on then, too. Hope the day has plenty more OMG moments in store for you ;)

  3. says

    This is great and spooky and entertaining all in one! You wrote it with such presence that I was caught up in the moment and really believed that such a thing happened! Great detail and descriptions, Alarna. A perfect Halloween treat. :)

  4. Coleen Patrick says

    Ok, you had me at “ramshackle remains of an old farmhouse”–that already is scary to me. :) I am fascinated by the idea of ghosts, but don’t really think I want to see one. :)

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