A Haunting: GO AWAY!
“Jimmy! What’s this?”
“Baby, you know that before I went to interview, we agreed if I got an offer, I’d take it and find somewhere we could live. This is our home for now. We can afford it. I really like this house, but I guess maybe it’s not much for you. It was what I could get, furnished, on short notice. It’s a wonderful house for the money.”
“No, it’s not. It’s goddamned ugly, and dark, and spooky.”
“I don’t think it’s ugly, just . . . old-fashioned. Like my grandma’s house. I’m sorry, Baby. I thought you’d like it. Some of the furnishings are real antiques.”
“Antiques! Heh. That’s a twenty-dollar word for used. I don’t want other people’s stuff.” She snorted.
There was a scrabbling noise above their heads. “What? It’s got rats or squirrels or something, too. This house is nasty. I hate to think about the kitchen.”
“Well, you, um we, don’t cook anyway, Baby. We’re near town and can get carry-out. But it has a nice big kitchen with a big stove and refrigerator and table. Come on. I’ll show you.”
“No. I’m tired and don’t want to see any more now.” She sighed. “I’ll look at it tomorrow.”
Jimmy looked around, almost apologetically, at the papered walls, the carved banister, and the wooden floors. “Sure, Baby, sure.”
She sensed his change in attention. “My poor ol’ you. You tried so hard, din’cha? Baby musn’t fuss at her Big Jimmy. But is there a bathtub, darlin’, and hot water? There’s gotta be hot water.”
His mood brightened. “Sure there is. You’ll feel better with a bath and a good night’s sleep. The bed’s warm and comfy and I made it up just the way you like. While I’m at work tomorrow, you can explore the house in daylight. I’ll bring burgers for supper.”
“Big Jimmy’s so good to his Baby,” she murmured mechanically. She looked up the stairs and sighed. “Let’s go.”
As she followed him up the long staircase, she heard someone, or something, say “GO AWAY!” in a hard, cold voice.
“Jimmy, did you hear that?”
At the landing, she grabbed his hand. “I know I heard someone speak.”
“It’s windy. Pro’bly the house is creaking.”
The next day, she walked from room to room. The house was well-furnished and clean, but the smell and feel of age was everywhere. Over and over she heard — “GO AWAY!”— and her skin crawled. Confused buy trying to be brave she thought, “It’s just horrible old house noise. That’s what it is.” But, she wasn’t very sure.
When Jimmy came home after work their luggage was piled on the porch, and she stood next to it wearing her coat. “Let’s go to a motel.”
Jimmy sighed and took their bags to the car.
As they drove away, the house leaned back into its foundations and chuckled, just a little.