Romancing the House

Michael C Pennington


Chris Bartholowmew

Static Movement


I climbed the porch steps, shifted my shopping bag and fumbled with my keys just before dark. My chest had that familiar ache, I wanted to lie down and rest for a while. Before the little spooks came trick or treating at my door.

For some reason, I couldn’t get the key in the door. Irritated, I checked to make sure I had the right one and tried again. The same thing happened it was as if a film of plastic blocked the keyhole.

“All right. Very funny. You got me again, now how about letting me in?” I asked my very own haunted house.

Typical. The house had done similar things ever since I bought the old girl. To catch my awareness, she would open and close doors in the middle of the night. Even squeak the floorboards as if someone walked across the floor. Sometimes, I felt like the house breathed down my neck even while I lay in bed.

I remembered the very first time the house introduced herself. While I sat on the throne in the master bathroom, when I heard the hall bathroom’s toilet flush. Startled, I couldn’t hurry fast enough to finish. Dragging my pants up, I ran out to check and see if anyone was in the house. Finding no one, I was frightened and quite disturbed all night.

I soon learned that the little jokes were her way of calling attention to something that needed to be fixed. In my short time in the house, I diligently repaired the roof, doors, and plumbing. I planned and sanded the floors, caulked the windows, and rewired the house. Painted the outside, and even mended the fence, after she slammed the gate half the night. I didn’t mind, I bought the house as a fixer upper. The dilapidated house that the locals previously avoided was now a pretty little cottage.

I tried the key again and my key chain came apart, scattering my keys at my feet. I looked around wondering what she wanted me to fix next. The locks were new on the door. The porch freshly painted just the week before.

“What?” My blood pressure nearly topped out and the pain increased in my right shoulder. “You’re almost a new house.”

I picked the keys up, pocketing all of them except the front door key. I grabbed the knob to steady myself and physically forced the key toward the deadbolt.

“Will you stop it!” Finally, the key went in, but I thought the key would break by the time I opened the bolt.

I didn’t expect the shoving match. What the heck? I finally squeezed in sideways.

“What’s the matter with you?” I never had anything like this happen before.  Just the house’s gentle prompts or the occasional joke when she wanted something, tonight was totally out of character.

I flipped the light switch, but the light didn’t come on. Exasperated, I dropped the sack of Halloween candy on the side table. Of all the nights, I wasn’t up to this one. Though I had always enjoyed Halloween the house’s tricks were enough for me.

“Okay, be that way.” Unwilling to fight the battle, I felt my way to the couch and plopped down. Kicking off my shoes, I leaned my head back trying to relax.

I knew my chest hurt for a reason. Denial, not this time, there was no explaining this one away. It wasn’t the first time I had chest pains. After seventy-seven years, few things surprised me, except the dang house.

Still, I liked the house. I fell in love with her Victorian charm, even her jokes.

Restoring the house became a labor of love. The work gave me a purpose. In fact, I willed the house to the local historical society.  The place had quite the history.

I found some old-style photos in the nook under the stairs. The frames tarnished, but I polished them up and hung them about the place. Most of the pictures portrayed a good-looking gal from childhood to maturity. I sure would’ve liked to of met her. Maybe we would’ve even gotten along.

A book dropped from the coffee table. I sighed and reached up to turn the end lamp on. It actually, worked.

I looked down to see the phonebook open on the floor. I peered at the page, Providence General Hospital Emergency, stood out in the full add, the number right in front of me.

“Oh! So that’s it. Ain’t a thing they can do for me, except take my money. Not going to do it.”

The phone receiver popped off the cradle.

“Ya know, I’m starting to worry about you old girl. What’s the matter? Afraid you’ll have to break some new fellow in? Yeah, yeah, I understand. It’s hard getting good help these days.”

I leaned back again, feeling the pressure ease a bit. Then decided to stretch out and take a nap. I would feel better in the morning. I must have fallen asleep instantly.

“How do you feel, Dearest?”

My eyes popped open, to see the good-looking gal from the photos. They didn’t do her justice, she was gorgeous. Her long sleeved, high throated, white blouse with all those ruffles smelled of sandal wood. The Cameo must have been worth a fortune. I hadn’t seen one, so fancy, since I was a kid.

“Um, fine.” And I did, I rubbed my chest to make sure. Yep, felt okay to me.

“I tried to warn you.”

“You did?”

“But you were so persistent.  You just would not grasp my hint.” She spoke with eloquent pronunciation, unlike anything from this century.

“I guess that I am a bit stubborn.”

“Well, sometimes being stubborn can be a good trait.”

“It’s been you all along and not the house, right?”

“You can call me, Abby.” Her smile lit up my ego.


“I am happy to finally meet you, John.”

“You too, Abby. How come I can see and talk to you, now?”

Her brows rose above her light-blue eyes. “You cannot guess?”

I sat up and caught sight of my peaceful old self still lying on the couch.

“You were right. I should have heeded your warning.”

“We will be fine together. Come along, we have the responsibility of caring for the house. I would like to bring a few things to your attention.”

Ah, heck! She wasn’t going to leave me alone even after death.

Ding Dong! I looked at Abby, who grinned back at me, perhaps reading my mind. Together we went to trick our guests, she slammed the gate while I flipped the porch light on and off. As an afterthought, we rattled the porch’s floor boards and then from the window by the door we watched the little spooks run for the sidewalk.