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Drama Fiction Mystery

Maybe if more people listened to old ladies they would be alive longer. 

“There’s another one in North Hampton.” There’s always another one, always another house to clean up after. All this, only because she left me. I dressed in my thick sweatshirt, pulling the hoodie over my head. It was time to begin my daily shifts. 

Fog. First, there’s only fog and the few bits of trash littering the sidewalk. Today my fingers are numb around the closed doorknob, my hands shivering as I twist the key inside the lock. Some of the fog comes inside with me as I open the door, circling around my feet like dancing snakes. Though I have done this a thousand times, a shiver runs up my spine as I touch books, furniture, and other things they touched. Each time my finger lands on a book, I pick it up and let it sit there in the palm of my hand, transferring it to my house. Tomorrow there would be nothing left of this house except its structure and broken spirits, all because she left me.

“Why are you taking things from my aunt?” A girl’s voice echoes from the back hall. She isn’t scared of me and tries to yank a book out of my hand. I let her take it and marvel at how innocent she is. I stand there, knowing she shouldn’t be able to see me; visitors never see me. They never listen when I give them advice or or tell them what is to come. That’s why there’s always another house. 

I move on, pretending to ignore the girl standing beside me. My hands move faster, collecting all the manuscripts, toys, and candy wrappings from the floor-and mind you- there isn’t much of anything in this house. Most of it has already been carted away by family members. 

“Who are you?” The girl asks, now scanning me up and down. I pause to look into her green eyes and reply. 

“I’m the Collector.” It has been a while since I have spoken. If it weren't for the disappearance, I wouldn't even be standing in this room. The girl cocks her head to one side like a lost puppy, trying to understand.

“So, you collect dead people’s stuff then.” She didn’t speak it like a question, and I felt a spark of emotion rise and fall in my chest; was it sympathy or empathy for the girl? It has been a long time since I have felt emotion. 

“I keep their memory safe like I will do with your aunt.” I like this form of communication and feel a connection to this girl, though I do not admit it to her as she looks at the pile I have accumulated to take back to my home. The girl looks at me and smiles, then starts picking up books and papers, carting them to the growing pile of goods. 

So together we lift furniture and document prized possessions and pictures until it is time to tap them to my house. 

“Wait.” The girl stops my hand from touching an old worn-out book by a desk. “This has everything inside it. It is very important.” I exhale deeply blowing the dust off of the dust on the cover to read the title. “Meridith Stockholm’s Book of Poetry and Prose”. I almost gasp and turn away from the book, not before I ask. 

“Who child? Who was your aunt?” The girl senses my mixed emotions and pauses before speaking as if to collect all her thoughts in one place. 

“She was a writer and a good one at that. She was going to teach me before she-you know-died.” This time, I am more forceful with the girl and snatch the book from her hands and tuck it away in the folds of my large pocket. I can’t let this book go, no matter how hard I will try. I re-read the title, over and over and over. The girl is shocked by my response and tells me to take care of it, a new bitterness in her voice. I sweep toward the pile of belongings and dismiss it with a wave of my hand. Opening the front door, I take one last look at the house and scurry outside into the thick fog. 

“There’s one in Charles Avenue miss.” My watch beeps with the message, but I silenced it immediately.

“The collector is taking a break,” I whisper and head home on foot. 

My house is empty, no different from the one I’d just been in. A few pieces of furniture lie in scattered clumps, the occasional side table or one person couch facing the T.V. At least, the house was empty of things that were mine. 

I take the stairs to my secret basement though I doubt any real estate agent would care so much as to point this out to me. I walk downstairs and place the old book on my desk. Paintings, furniture, books, and toys fill the grand room up to the ceiling, and more lay scattered, waiting to be organized. There was hardly anything made of gold, nothing left of value anyways, but the few trinkets I got were tucked away in a safe, hidden from burglars. I throw my hoodie back and sigh, combing through Meredith’s belongings for the will. Half of her stuff would be shipped out to recipients by noon, and the stuff they didn’t want would be mine. Better to collect the stuff before greedy neighbors come. 

Suddenly, as I was packing up the orders, a girl, that same girl, emerges from behind the wall. How she got inside I wasn’t even going to ask. I immediately throw on my hood again but it’s too late.

“Are you a thief?” She backs away from me after looking at all the collected items.

“No, not really. I just collect the items that aren’t wanted around here.” She stares at the safe, stacks of books and piles of paintings. I don’t do anything but shake my head, wondering what a girl could be doing all alone in an abandoned house following a complete stranger. 

“That isn’t my place by the way. I know you’re wondering but my parents think I’m going to be out for the rest of noon hanging out with friends.” I also know she has more to say, and wait for the words to come.

“Oh, and you’re not telling me something. About that book, you stole from me.” I want to say I didn’t steal, I want to say I didn’t do anything wrong, but I had, and I needed to tell her. Instead, I take three steps exactly to my desk, pick up the book, and whisper softly.

My sister was alive.”

October 02, 2020 15:48

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17 comments

18:19 Oct 03, 2020

Hey, Owly! I loved this story, great job! Do you want to do an upvote spree for upvote spree?

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22:01 Oct 03, 2020

Sure!

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Zilla Babbitt
00:46 Oct 04, 2020

Eerie and mystical. Very enjoyable! I liked your concept and the confrontation scene itself. Your dialogue is nice and natural and your descriptions good. I suggest exploring the Collector a bit more. Who is she? Is she human? A demon? A spirit? Why does she have this job and who does she report to? You don't need to tell everything, but a few pieces of information can help the reader piece your world together better. Beautiful and touching. Keep it up!

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Hriday Saboo
14:53 Oct 06, 2020

Hey 🦉 owly. A very well written story. Happy 20th story. Upvote spree?.?

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16:22 Oct 06, 2020

Sure! And thanks!

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Hriday Saboo
16:51 Oct 06, 2020

Welcome

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22:58 Oct 05, 2020

Hi, Owly (btw such a cute profile picture) I was super hooked since the start and the mystery aspect was and I thought the collector was something creepy like a ghost. It was super creative and I hope to see more! Happy writing! -El

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Princemark Okibe
14:50 Oct 04, 2020

For a moment there I thought the collector was a ghost. Nice try, you nearly got me there.

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15:40 Oct 04, 2020

:)

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B. W.
23:45 Oct 03, 2020

This was really great like your other ones and i'll be glad to see more whenever you can ^^ 10/10 :) up-vote spree for up-vote spree?

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23:54 Oct 03, 2020

Thanks! Sure!

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B. W.
23:58 Oct 03, 2020

Yay ^^ i also hope this is alright but could you check out "Crossover: the traitor" and leave some feedback?

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Deepti Kumari
02:30 Oct 03, 2020

Nice story.👍

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Sunny 🌼
23:23 Oct 05, 2020

OwO. ominous. I wonder who the collecter is. She reminds me of the grim reaper or something. Also that LAST LINE. It has some serious part two vibes to it.

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23:25 Oct 05, 2020

I know right? But I'm going to leave it like that for now...let the readers come up with an idea :)

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Sunny 🌼
12:02 Oct 06, 2020

Dangit, now I have to use my BRAIN for once.

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Rebecca Lee
04:05 Oct 05, 2020

That was a good story. I think you need to look through it and check on a few things - little tweaks, but overall, it was good. If you have time, would you please read my stories- I have one for this upcoming thing that I really would like to get some feedback on - the time capsule.

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