Never Forget the Soap

“It happened again.”

“What?”

“The door.”

….?

“The door of the laundry room.”

….

*Sigh* “It hit me on the way out again.”

“Oh…” “Well…” “It’s just a door.”

“It doesn’t hit me every time.”

“Huh.”

“I’m serious!”

“I know! -Look, maybe you’re just jumping to conclusions.”

….

“Like, you know, that… say, air currents from a different door or whatever sometimes close that one.”

“On me.”

“…Yeah.”

“Never on you.”

“…Yeah.”

“Never on anyone else.”

“Yeah!”

“And only when I start a load at midnight.”

“Yeah! -wait; why are you starting laundry at -”

“And only when I can also hear whispering…”

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Inspired by my own laundry room experiences for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt: someone unremembered.

September 26, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about someone unremembered. Is it a momentary lapse or a loss in time? Play with the tone — make it funny, moving, or eerie. Go where the prompt leads you!

Respond by October 1, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

The Flash Fiction CONTESTS start after this, so check them out beginning October 3!!!

 

Photo Credit: Ryoji Hayasaka

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Boo the Ghost

Boo the Ghost shivered in the doorway of the old, dark house. His job was to haunt it all night.

His friend, Wally the Werewolf, scrambled by. “Hey, Boo! Come howl with me.”

“Sorry,” Boo said. “I can’t.”

Next, Freddy the Frankenstein stomped past. “Hey, Boo! Come moan with me!”

“Sorry,” Boo said. “I can’t.”

Wilma the Witch flew by with her cauldron. “Hi, Boo! Why don’t you come fly?”

“Sorry,” Boo said. “I can’t fly, either.”

All of Boo’s friends looked at each other. “Then,” they said, “WE will come to you.”

And they all haunted the house together.

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Made with the help of all my invisible friends for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie Contest.

Sleep Tight IV

Continued from Sleep Tight, III.

I’d tucked my feet safely in beneath a blanket fold, just as I’d done all those years ago in my childhood bedroom. I’d mostly convinced myself that cloth was a sufficient barrier between me and potential insects, questionable mattress stains, and lingering dust.

Watching dancing shadows cross the ceiling and recalling disturbing memories did little to assure my hypersensitive mind against other possibilities, however.

If not for the exhaustion of traveling hours to arrive at these “free” lodgings, I would likely not have even thought to sleep in the house. If not for cleaning the upstairs all afternoon, my aversions to physical impediments (like vermin) would have sent us scuttling to the car. If not for an evening spent in emotional stress over a broken leg and the physical labor of hoisting an eight-year-old boy up a large, dusty, winding, creaking staircase –

Nope. Exhaustion alone was only working to frighten me more, as my body complained of serious physical limitations to action. My mind said, Why was the door moving? There was no wind; no breeze. It sent panicked shivering down my poor, sore limbs. They, in turn, responded with, Can’t move; need sleep.

A face had looked at me from beside my son’s reflection in the mirror this afternoon. We need to move; take action; freak out! screamed my anxious brain, but exhaustion was winning out.

Doors and faces slunk from their corner memory spaces to dance and moan amidst feverish dreams. Background creaks and groans from the house itself accompanied them, unbeknownst to my snoozing consciousness.

Daylight came, with my usual three alarm clocks: Sam, Jonny, and Ollie.

“Mo-o-o-om!” All three called, in asynchronous cadence. They pounded into my bedroom; Sam hopping to do so. Though not all able to walk precisely the same, all three faces bore the same looks of terror. I sat up, fully awake. Not-too-distant dreams haunted my perceptions as I nervously waited for their answers.

“What?!”

Sam spoke first. “Were you downstairs this morning?” His face had settled somewhat more than his brothers’. Clearly, he expected an affirmative answer.

Instinctively, my ears strained to listen for any noises from the floor below. For once, I heard only us, and a bit from Nature just outside the single bedroom window. It was glowing innocently in the morning sunlight, beyond our meeting around my antique bed.

I looked up at my children’s faces. They were so trusting. “Why?” I asked them carefully, needing to hear the answer but knowing I didn’t really want to.

Ollie spoke first. “Dere was clunking,” he said, in the typical manner of a three-year-old.

Clunking?” I wondered aloud.

As if on cue, something dropped to the floor in one of the rooms downstairs.

Sleep Tight, III

Continued from Sleep Tight, Continued.

“Mom, Sam said I need to get you.”

I screamed and turned, then calmed at the surprised, corporeal face of my son. It was only my son. My muddy, messy son who looked about ready to cry. I breathed in deeply, turning off the faucet of the claw foot bathtub. The water had barely cleared anyway.

“Sorry, Jonny,” I said, turning, standing, walking over to him. He pulled away from me slightly. “What?” I asked.

“Don’t do that!” He responded, affronted. Of course.

I wiped a sweating arm across my kerchiefed forehead. I thought to wash the cleaner from my hands, then remembered the current state of the house’s water supply. Maybe my dear old grandpa would spring for an actual plumber. I considered, then thought my chances would increase significantly if I contacted the city, instead.

I looked out the bubbling glass behind broken boards at the end of the darkly musted hallway. I could just make out a clump of roofs and roads a few miles away. The local town, I amended; maybe even local neighborhood.

A creaking sound came from my bedroom; a groan responded from the hall. “What’s that?” Jonny asked me, grabbing at my jeans with his mud-encrusted hand.

“It’s just an old house,” I calmly told him, my thudding heart, and the goosebumps on my arms and neck. I added, in attempted lightheartedness, “Old houses do a lot of settling, especially in the wind.”

“But, it’s not windy,” Jonny told me, looking up to study my face.

“Let’s go outside,” I said, starting forward despite his continued grip on my leg. I couldn’t push him along till I washed my hands. Maybe the pump in the yard would be sufficient.

In this fashion, I swish-clumped my way down the hall to the top of the staircase. The sound echoed in the empty house, disturbing dust motes from their determined slumber. All I needed was a ball and chain to complete the old horror movie trope. A structural piece somewhere, maybe in the parlor, complained noisily. I hadn’t heard anything from the main floor before then, but maybe I’d been preoccupied with my sanitizing attempts.

Jonny was certainly occupying enough at the moment. Thank goodness, or else I would have noticed the additions to our reflections in the mottled mirror immediately, in passing.

Instead, my brief glance memory of the anomaly stored itself snugly into my subconscious, ready to suggest itself at a more appropriate time. Like, bedtime.

Jonny and I stumbled together down the solidly creaking stairs, following various dust-drawn outlines of shoes and bare feet. We limped together past the parlor entry, intent on the front door to outside. The parlor door swung slightly in my peripheral vision, but Jonny tripped just as it happened.

The movement therefore joined my mirror memory, to be enjoyed later as well.

For now, I could see that Jonny was right in that Sam needed me. We had made it out together, his grip still certain on my dirtied jeans. We had clumped down the old wooden stairs and down to the old well.

Sam was lying on the ground just beside the pump, cradling a leg. Their younger brother stood sentry at Sam’s shoulder, crying nearly as much as Sam should have been.

It was no wonder, I told myself that evening, that I hadn’t noticed a few things in the house at the time.

I had carefully piled three filthy children into the old sedan my grandfather was also “letting” us borrow, and found out the neighborhood really did qualify as a town. It had a doctor’s office. Edensville also had a restaurant of sorts.

We hadn’t gotten back to the house until dusk. I would have put Sam on …something downstairs, if my nerves had settled, and if a suitable something existed. Instead, twilight found me straining to lift him up the winding staircase to the bedrooms as his brothers clung as closely as possible.

Just after dark found us chancing the murky bathroom water for brushing and hand-washing. It hadn’t looked so red in the dim glow of our camping lantern. Everyone piled into beds -into blankets on the beds- exactly as dirty as we’d been since after lunchtime.

And that was when my disloyal brain remembered.

After curling up safely in my old blankets and assuring myself that bedbugs biting was just a cute saying, after telling the boys I’d swept away all cobwebs so spiders wouldn’t want to be in their room, and after exhaustion finally conquered imagined fears -then, my dear brain remembered.

As darkness truly settled in and the house settled noisily down, it remembered that swinging door this windless afternoon, and that extra face behind my son’s on the stairway landing looking-glass.

Keep reading to Sleep Tight, IV.