We are taught to explain away the supernatural, what adult truly believes in ghosts any more? Of course, we also explain the unknown with stories of superstition. So which is it? Is a strange series of coincidences just that? Or might it be something else?
Hope you enjoy it,
Stepping down from the moving truck, Bidelia stands on the curb looking proudly up at her new home. From the beginning; finding the listing online, walking through, applying and being approved for the loan, even when signing the papers, it had felt more like a dream. But now that feeling was beginning to fade. The solidness of keys she holds firmly in her hand, the movers carrying furniture and boxes inside, the reality of the moment is finally dawning on her. Feeling excitement bubbling up inside her chest, after so many years believing she’d never be able to afford to own her own home, she’s almost too scared to express her happiness, in case it all comes crashing down.
She wasn’t the first of her friends to own their own home, but they had all built there’s far out in the suburbs or the country, often with help from family and spouses. The market is prohibitive for first time buyers without taking on a lifetime of debt, that’s why she’d been so shocked to find this house listed at such a low price for it’s incredible, central location. From a young age she’d been careful with her money, squirrelling every spare dollar away towards her dream of owning her own place. No more sharing a bathroom, putting up with housemates dirty dishes, or having to ask permission before having people over, or a party, or anything. Chuckling to herself she gleefully wonders, if this is what it means to be an adult, why does it feel like such a childish joy?
“Miss?” one of the movers’ voice from just behind her, “We’re done moving everything inside, the big stuff is all in the rooms you wanted. Did you want our help setting up the furniture, or is that all you’re wanting?”
“No, thank you, I’ll manage it from here,” Bidelia smiles, after the first hour they charge by ten minute intervals, so keeping their time here short was preferable. As she pulled her wallet from her pocket to pay him, she notices one of the movers with a bloody rag wrapped around his forearm that hadn’t been there before. Directing the movers attention to the injured man she asks, “What happened to him? Did something happen inside?”
With a reassuring shrug, the mover answers, “Scrapped his arm up on the fridge, just took the top layer of skin off, didn’t even start to bleed until long after he got the bandage on. Nothing was damaged and there was no blood on anything of your things.”
Humming with suspicion, Bidelia leaves it as is, preferring to just let them leave and if there’s any damage she can complain later. Opening her wallet, she trades money for receipt absently while focusing on the injured man waiting by the truck, there is something off about him that she can’t quite determine.
Even as the senior mover thanks her and returns to his partner, their exchange just seems weird. They exchange a few words too quiet to hear before climbing up into the truck, she could have sworn the injured man had looked back at her, or possibly past her. He seemed frightened. It was unnerving, but likely nothing, so with a polite wave, she pushes the concerns to the back of her mind and tries to retrieve her previous feeling of triumph and excitement as she enters her new home for the first time since it was hers.
The inside hadn’t changed since the inspection, other than the inclusion of her furniture and worldly goods cluttering up the place, making it feel much smaller and less empty. By no means ugly, the house is generally quite plain. The cream white walls and dark brown floors leave it feeling like a blank canvas, something she can easily build on to feel more like hers. She’d been thinking about it a lot since the purchase had gone through, her mental image clear as crystal, she opens the box left by the front door and lifts out the artwork her best friend had painted for her birthday so many years ago. One of her most prized possessions since it had been made specially for her, she knew she wanted to make it the centrepiece of the entire house.
Taking the hammer and nails from the same box, she carries them and the painting to the lounge. Dragging and positioning the furniture to give the placement better context, she holds it up and visualising the complete room set up, she confirms the decision in her mind.
Placing the picture on the floor, she taps carefully a the wall, searching out the higher, solid tone of the stud. Finding it she carefully holds the nail to the wall, lining the hammer up to strike when suddenly a shiver runs along her spine disrupting her concentration. Suddenly feeling less secure and alone, she turns and looks around. As before the room is empty and silent except for her.
After a long pause, she turns back to the wall. Lining up the hammer and nail, the feeling of unease returns at a lower intensity. Bidelia deciding it must be apprehension at the thought of putting a hole in her new home, takes a calming breath and brings the hammer down on the nails head.
“Fuck!” she exclaims, dropping the nail and hammer and clutching her painfully throbbing thumb. She’d messed up with the hammer struck her thumb, blood painfully welling up beneath the nail. Whimpering in pain and fury, she can hardly believe she could have missed her strike. From her childhood she’d been helping her dad building and fixing things out in the shed, she couldn’t even remember the last time she’d missed the mark like this before.
Glaring up at the wall, the anxiety from before now passed, she reflects on her memory of the strike. With hindsight she was still confident in her strike, cursing and clutching her thumb, it was almost as if the wall itself had shifted at the last moment to force her to mess up. Recognising the absurdity of the thought she immediately buries it along with the tiny ember of worry, thinking to herself, Must have been distracted by that mover hurting themself, I’ll come back to it later…