The Gray Green House Just Down the Street

Submitted into Contest #102 in response to: Write about a mysterious figure in one’s neighborhood.... view prompt

6 comments

Drama Fiction Suspense

They say it’s haunted—the gray green house just down the street. For thirty-two years I’ve watched that house. We all have—my grandmother, my mother, and me. We have seen families and bachelors, divorcees and old maids, first loves and broken hearts all enter the gray green house just down the street. They enter ignorantly, but they leave…changed. They leave haunted.

The Cohen family—that poor man Jasper and his frail wife Amelia—they didn’t last but a week. They moved into the cursed house on the night of the twelfth, with absolutely no regard for the waxing gibbous moon. We sat on our porch and watched as they struggled to heave bags and parcels and wrapped furniture up the front steps and through the unnaturally narrow entryway. Our neighbor, Gally Gomer, tiptoed to the corner of his porch and whispered, “Is it happening?”

In a full, monotone voice, my grandmother assured, “It’s happening.”

The next night, great shouts could be heard from their open parlor windows.

“I never wanted to move here to begin with!” Amelia’s shrill voice echoed down the street.

“Never wanted to move here?” I mused, pulling apart a row of stitches from an unfinished blanket. “I can’t imagine why not.”

“T’ain’t one thing in that house that works the way it should,” Gally muttered, lazily watching me work. “Not the plumbing, not the lights, not the stove—”

The sound of a shattering plate turned both of our heads toward the gray green house just down the street.

“Doesn’t sound like the marriage works either,” Gally mused flatly, as Jasper stormed out of the house down to his glistening car.

“The marriage never works,” I sighed. “It’s the most broken thing of all.” Jasper sped down the street and Amelia wrenched the window closed.

Three days later, they were gone and my blanket was still unfinished.

By the time the last stitch was straightened and put away, a young man by the name of Drake was hauling boxes up the uneven front steps and into the gray green house just down the street.

“How old do you think that young man is, Gally?” My grandmother rapped Gally on the shoulder as he sat at her feet.

Gally hmmmmed for a few moments before turning to me quizzically. “How old are you, Tourmaline?”

Grandmother cackled and I cast a side-long scowl at him.

“That’s none of your business, Gally.”

“I didn’t mean no harm! He just—” Gally’s head swiveled between the now shirtless young man and me. “I just—I think he’s about your age.”

“I think he is too,” Grandmother piped up, cheerfully patting Gally on his head. “Why must all the nice attractive men be so young?”

Astonished, I dropped my needlework in my lap. “Grandmother!” Gally fell onto his side laughing and Grandmother just waved her hand at me.

“Oh pooh, I know I know. But is it so wrong to wish that he had moved into the Clementine’s old house instead of that cursed one?" As the young man pushed a box up the sidewalk, Grandmother craned her neck to get a better look.

"Is it so wrong to wish he were just a little older—give or take a couple of decades?" She continued.

I threw my hands up as Gally chortled.

"It's not like you want him, Tourmaline!" She reprimanded. "He's moving into that cursed house! All alone!" A little more subdued now, she murmured, "I wish there were at least one good thing waiting for him."

More solemnly now, we watched as the nice young man moved all his earthly belongings into the gray green house just down the street.

Though he moved in alone, the house was seldom silent. Through the night, raucous laughter and sobbing echoed eerily through the darkness and during the day, Drake would scream at his walls. Mother couldn’t bear it, so she stayed inside, but I couldn’t leave the porch, fixated on the nightmare unfolding in the gray green house just down the street. Gally stayed by my side.

“What is he doing?” the tight words came out of my mouth as a whisper. After three days, I no longer had the heart to watch, so my eyes were squeezed shut.

Gally whispered back, “I—I think he thinks the characters on his wallpaper—are alive.”

The screams from the gray green house were sickening. Gally gripped my hand tightly as the gray green house destroyed that beautiful young man’s mind. Days passed before silence finally fell. By the time Drake’s parents carried him out of the gray green house, the wallpaper hung in bloody strips and Drake’s hands were battered and shaking. In the fading light and building silence, I looked down at my interlocked fingers. Our hands—they were dark and bruised.

“It’s always bad,” Gally stated simply, staring past the gray green house just down the street. “But it’s so much worse when you love them.”

Softly, I kissed Gally’s warm hand and we never spoke of Drake again.

A year later, the Briar family moved in. They had seven children, all boisterous and whooping and dashing—all so full of life. It would have been wonderful if it hadn’t been so terrible.

“Why don’t you go talk to them?” my mother asked Gally as she laid our silver out on the porch. “That one over there, hitting the tree, she looks to be about your age.”

The branch the girl had been using to whip the tree snapped with a loud crack and Gally recoiled at the sight.

“Don’t worry, Gally,” my mother reassured him, straightening a knife with her pale fingertips, “they won’t be here long. They never are.”

As always, Mother was right. That first night, the police were called and their strobing lights were muted in the polished silver, laid at our feet. We sat in respectful silence through the night, rocking, rocking, rocking, till the sun rose over the gray green house.

Their youngest boy was never found and every few months, his quieted family would slowly drive down the street, all eyes searching for answers but sometimes—sometimes, there are no answers. Sometimes, there is only a cursed, gray green house, just down the street, that you must never, ever trifle with.

July 09, 2021 15:59

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6 comments

Zz Entwistle
03:40 Jul 22, 2021

A haunting and interesting story about how some things just can't be explained. You can feel the character of the Grandma even though the story is so short, and I liked that you added that bit of humor. The last line is poetic almost, and really sticks with the reader. Wonderful writing! :)

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Brittany Weaver
20:42 Jul 25, 2021

Thank you very much for your kind feedback!

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23:28 Jul 17, 2021

Good and solid! And quite creepy... Loved the repetition of "gray green house just down the street", it turns the story into a musical composition. Kudos!

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Brittany Weaver
01:23 Jul 20, 2021

Thank you very much! I appreciate the kind feedback! :)

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13:44 Jul 17, 2021

This is a very good story! Just enough information to keep me wanting more, but creepy enough for me to want it to stop! Stop the maddness! Very nice. I look forward to reading more from you!

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Brittany Weaver
01:23 Jul 20, 2021

Thank you very much! This comment made me smile :)

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