Prompt: The House At the End of the Street
The house at the end of the street was an old decrepit thing. It was a tall, twisting Victorian with boarded up windows, gingerbread molding, and too many turrets. No one ventured there; the yard was overgrown and the front porch was precarious with its missing boards.
At night, the front gate swung loose on it’s ancient iron hinges, moaning for all to hear. At noon, if anyone ever dared to enter the yard, there would be a woman in white loitering about the garden. In the evenings she was in the front hall. Late at night, when the full moon was high, she watched her street from the attic window. No one ever paid her any mind, it was almost as though she were not even there.
One day, while in the garden, she heard the raised voices of children; they did not sound friendly. She crossed the yard, her hands resting along the iron fence and watched the herd of girls. It appeared three of them were ganging up on the smallest of the girls, and it looked as though she were near tears.
The woman gave a shout and the three older girls turned to her, their eyes glassy with fear. Their shrieks as they fled spread a tickle down the woman’s spine as she laughed hoarsely.
The small girl was staring at her, not in fear, but her eyes wide with wonder. “Are you my guardian angel?” the girl asked, sending another wave of hoarse laughter through the woman.
The woman shook her head, simply beckoning the girl around to the gate. Without a moment’s hesitation the girl trotted around and entered into the yard. A beaming smile spread across the girl’s face, it was far lovelier on this side of the fence than it had appeared.
The girl declared she was called Clara as she took the cold, proffered hand of the woman, following her towards the back door of the house.
“You know,” said the woman once they were inside the house, “I once had a daughter, much like you.”
Clara smiled; “What happened to her?” she asked.
“She died,” said the woman slowly.
“How sad,” whispered Clara. “My mother died when I was very young,” she offered. “Perhaps we have found one another for a reason,” Clara said again when the woman did not speak.
The woman nodded slowly, her gaze far away; she would not ask her, she COULD NOT ask her.
“You have to be lonely in this big old house,” piped Clara once more into the growing silence, “perhaps I’ll stay a while and keep you company?”
In the afternoons they gardened, undisturbed by the most recent clamoring in the neighborhood. A girl had gone missing, but there was nothing that could disturb Clara’s happiness with her new-found companion. The evenings were now spent in the front parlor, consumed by the fantastical stories of Clara.
The townsfolk searched and searched, but they never found a trace of the missing girl. It was weeks before they noticed that the ghost at the end of the street had a new companion in the windows with her; the house no longer plagued by wailing moans, but by the faint echo of laughter of a young girl.