The Revolving House

Written in response to: Set your story in a silent house by the sea.... view prompt


American Fiction

Moonlight reflected in the tide pools along the coastline. The night air was still and balmy. The only other light to be seen shown through a window of a house back over the dunes.

Jess had risen from her slumber, and made her way down to the kitchen. She leveled a scoop of fresh coffee and turned on the coffee maker. Not wanting to look at the clock, she pressed the power button to her laptop. The gurgle of the coffee maker and the hum of the laptop was a part of her morning ritual. Jess pours her first cup and sits down at her desk. She kept a sketchpad beside her laptop, and commenced to delve out ideas for her latest short story.

Circa 1930s

The Sullivan house was one of the first to be built on the sound. It was modeled after New England shipbuilders. Adorned in cedar shakes for siding, the two and a half story home was erected on piers. This allowed air underneath and the inevitable, ever changing tides to clear the house.

Over the next decade, a prominent family took up residence there as their summer home. One late afternoon, the three children who lived in the house went down to the beach to frolic and play. The youngest child accidentally stepped on a jellyfish. The other children went running back up to the house to alert their parents. When they returned to where the jellyfish was, the youngest child was nowhere to be found. The other two children were perplexed while the mother was hysterical. The father gently ushered the children's mother back into the house and sat her down on the bed. She remained silent and lost her appetite over time.

After the service, the grieving father boarded up the windows and relocated back inland with the two remaining children.

The Sullivan house sat vacant until the mid 1960s when the current family purchased the home. The paint on the exterior trim peeled. The roofing shingles would need to be replaced. However, the cedar shakes had weathered perfectly to a bleached out grayish color.

Inside the house, the original furnishings were still covered up with white sheets. The curtains were slung open and dust particles levitated in the stagnant air. The main floor was in better condition, with only minor repairs. However, the upper floors suffered more. Cracks in the plaster walls were caused by the changing seasons and the house settling over time. The wood floors buckled in some spots.

The current family decided to retain the original design and décor of the Sullivan house. Blood, sweat, and tears poured out of the family has they revived the home.

Sometimes the upper floor boards would creak when everybody else was on the main floor. However, this usually happened when the weather was calm outside.

One day, the father and his son were updating a light fixture when a sudden breeze opened the screen door. The breeze was so powerful that it blew out the light in the neighboring room.

The current family recalled the realtor saying this house had some interesting history. However, on the purchase date, the family decided that the history gave the house even more charm.

One day after school, Miss Madeline rode her bicycle down to the small library. She was intent on finding out the history of her family's house. She asked the librarian where to start researching old houses. The librarian directed her to the microfiche files. Miss Madeline spent days on end after school, gathering facts and tidbits about the Sullivan house. As she headed back home one afternoon, Madeline slowed down to say hello to a neighbor. The neighbor inquired of Madeline's whereabouts and advised her about what happened on that ill-fated day. It turns out the neighbor was related to that prominent family. The story made Madeline teary-eyed. Then she thanks the neighbor and continues home.

That evening at dinner, she shares her facts and findings about the house with her family. Her mother empathizes with Madeline while her father and brother are a little skeptical.

Many new memories took place in the old Sullivan house with Madeline's family such as birthdays, proms, graduations, and a wedding. Madeline eventually inherited the house while her brother and his new family relocated inland.

To this day, the house is still standing in its original spot. On still days, one can go out onto the rear porch and hear faint laughter amongst the waves washing upon the shore.


Jess clicks the Save As icon on her laptop and powers it down. She glances out of the window towards the horizon. The sunrise is a brilliant orangery-pink color. Jess pours another cup of coffee and steps out onto the rear porch. Waves lap at the shore, and the tide is coming in. She looks around and sees the early bird neighbors getting their exercise in before the rest of the day commences. Silence is broken when Jess is alerted by the ringing of the phone. She answers it quickly, hoping not to wake up her family who is still sleeping. Her mom called her as a part of their weekly ritual. Madeline takes the phone out onto the porch to continue the conversation.

The porch door squeaks open and Madeline turns around to see her two sons intently look at her to start breakfast. She ends the call and goes back in with them.

The aroma of pancakes and bacon permeate the home. Moments later, heavier footsteps migrate down the stairs into the kitchen. Madeline's husband plants a peck on her forehead. Then he sits down with the boys as a piece of pancake goes flying over his head. He puts a stop to the horseplay as he sips his coffee.

Madeline tells her husband about her latest story. He replies with excitement about he cannot wait to read it.

Then a hush falls over the family as the upper floor boards creak. Then they look at each other in awe. 

November 09, 2021 10:07

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