five-minute fiction: the widow’s walk.

I have never once posted any creative writing out here. This is a first (probably because I really don’t do creative writing all that much, but anyway). I call this “five-minute fiction” because I wrote it in one draft quickly, without breaks and without editing. I just wanted to get it out there in case I should revisit it. Anyway, enjoy.

The Widow’s Walk

It was a chilly, rainy October night. I was at home with my parents, like any other typical school night, really. Their house sort of reminded me of the Munsters’ house. Even though they weren’t going for ‘ominous’, this big, old house just had that character about it. Maybe it was the high ceilings, vintage architecture, dark tones throughout the house, who knows; but for all its charm, it could come off as creepy sometimes…especially at night. When it’s raining outside.

Of course, I never really bought into the “haunted” stuff. Sure, it’s fun around campfires and children’s sleepovers, but did I believe in ghosts? No. I was too busy ducking and dodging the occasional bats in this big, old house. While you’re scared of what’s lurking around dark corners, I’m busy trying to flush a fleddermaus out with a broom and a flashlight, thank you very much.

That was up until tonight. Something happened and I can’t quite explain it. Well, “happened” is a strong word. I don’t quite know how to classify it yet. I’ll start from the beginning.

I do some odd jobs for my neighbor, Jake. He’s a professor at the local college and lives alone. Since we live in an historic district, all the houses have a bit of a “Munsters” look and feel; including Jake’s. He lives alone and works a lot, so he pays me to help out with simple home maintenance duties. You know, mow the lawn, rake leaves, take in the trash cans. Jake’s a nice guy and pretty busy, so I don’t mind. Plus, it gives me a few extra bucks for the weekend.

Jake mentioned he was going to swing by tonight because he had a project for me. When he arrived, he had a stereo turntable under his arm. “I need you to get this serviced and get it working properly for me,” Jake said. After a quick diagnosis, I could tell the belt drive needed replaced.

“This is a pretty sweet turntable, Jake,” I said to him. “I didn’t know you had it.”

“I just discovered it in my attic,” he replied. “Once we get it working again, I can dig out my records from storage.”

I told him I’d get it repaired and have it to him by the weekend. My dad walked him to the door and I went upstairs to finish homework. I could hear the two of them talking when I walked toward my room, but heard some strange noises outside. We have a “widow’s walk” on the front of the house over the front porch. No, it’s not a true, widow’s walk, which is usually perched atop the roof of a house. It’s more like the roof of the front porch was turned into a balcony. But, according to the registry, it’s classified as a widow’s walk. Anyway, I stepped outside onto the widow’s walk to investigate.

Rain was still falling and temperatures were dipping lower than normal for this October night. I could see my breath in the air as I pulled my hoodie over my head to keep from getting too soaked in this drizzly rain. I could hear the muffled voices of Jake and my dad talking in the foyer beneath me as I looked out beyond our front yard through the dead autumn foliage. The downstairs porch lights threw enough light that I could see the Miller house just across the way. Their house was always in some state of disarray.

For a big, historic home, they let it go to shit, really. Children’s toys were always scattered in the yard, even though I never see their kids playing on them. The yard was always overgrown and unkempt. The siding needed a good power washing. Come to think of it, the Millers could’ve used a power washing too. We hardly ever saw them. They were kinda weird.

But the noises I heard tonight were out of place, even for the Millers. At first, I thought I heard a window breaking. Not like a rock going through it, but more like a muffled shattering sound followed by some weird voice making a dramatic exhale. It’s hard to explain, but it caught my attention.

Obscured by the darkness in the shadows on my widow’s walk, I focused my eyes to the spot where I heard the noise. It was a second floor window, but it wasn’t broken. I think that window was at the top of a staircase, if memory serves correctly.

That’s when things got weird.

In what I can only describe as a sweeping motion, all the errant toys in the Millers’ yard were picked up and thrown up against the fence on their side yard and landed in a pile. There was no wind in the air when this happened. I didn’t understand. There was no wind at all that could’ve done that.

And then I heard that exhaling sound again. My eyes followed to the spot where the noise was originating. It was that second floor window. There was a faint, greenish glow coming from the window now and a skinny, female figure of undefined age standing in the window. I couldn’t see the source of the green light that was illuminating her. It looked sort of like what you might see peering through infrared night goggles.

I was watching this stoic figure stand in the window, arms straight down at her sides, she was cloaked in a pale-colored children’s nightgown. The greenish hue all around her, flickering and staying just dim enough to obscure her face. She was looking down toward the pile of toys up against the fence. I looked down at the yard where the toys were thrown and noticed no additional movement.

I didn’t recognize her as one of the Miller kids. Honestly, none of this was registering to me. I was sort of dumbfounded, but caught up in this episode that lasted maybe a total of 20 seconds. It wasn’t until the 20th second that I got scared, when my eyes went back toward the window.

That shadowy figure was no longer in the window, but now standing nose-to-nose with me on this widow’s walk. Her eyes, large and black, completely dead and soulless, staring into my eyes. The green glow casting a faint silhouette all around her petite frame. She wasn’t standing on the widow’s walk, but floating in front of me.

In that split second that I turned to see her in front me, her mouth opened and let out that exhaling sound, which came out like a muted screech.

“Jesus Christ!” I shouted as I pivoted to run back inside. I ran into the wall, knocking myself out cold.

When I regained consciousness, Jake and my dad were standing over me on a sofa in the upstairs den. They must’ve heard me scream and topple to the floor from hitting the wall, I thought.

“You okay?” my dad said to me.

“How long was I out? What happened?” I asked, reaching my hand to my face, expecting to feel some sort of abrasion on my forehead from running into the wall.

“Beats me,” my dad replied. “Jake stopped over to talk to you and we heard you shouting and came running upstairs. You must’ve fallen asleep waiting for Jake to stop by and had a bad dream.”

“Huh?” I asked, confused.

“Yeah, I need you to get this turntable fixed for me,” Jake said, motioning to the piece of equipment under his arm.

I was in a haze and couldn’t tell if I was having the same conversation twice, or what. “Uh, sure, yeah, no problem,” I replied to Jake, trying to sort it all out.

“So when you guys came up here, I was already on the couch?” I asked. They nodded, but with perplexed, inquisitive looks on their faces.

“I wasn’t outside? I didn’t run into the wall and knock myself ouit?”

My dad laughed out loud at that one. Jake simply looked at me like I was nuts. “I’ll need the turntable by the weekend, so let me know how much it’ll cost,” he said to me as my dad walked him downstairs, to the front door.

I sat there on the sofa for a moment, trying to figure out if I was dreaming or what happened.

As they talked by the front door downstairs, I walked to the widow’s walk and stepped outside, looking for a clue that what I experienced was real.

The rain let up and the air was still. Nervously, I peered through the dead foliage once again at the Miller house. It was dark, with no apparent movement going on inside. My eyes scanned the yard and all the kid’s toys were scattered in their original positions.

I stared at the yard for a moment, completely baffled. How did the toys get scattered again? After a couple seconds, I decided I simply had a strange dream. I shrugged it off and turned to step back inside. But wait a minute. How did I know about Jake’s turntable in my dream? He never told me why he was stopping over.

I looked out over my left shoulder at that second floor window at the Miller house. In a faint, green glow through the window appeared that female figure again. Her dead, black eyes were visible and looking straight at me. And she raised her right arm up and put her extended index finger over her mouth and said, “shhhhhh…”

The End.

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