It’s the house that drew her in. From the very first moment that she stepped inside, she felt it pulling at her. She thought it was because she loved it so much. It was beautiful, open, light, old. The place had more character in the staircase railing than her previous house had all together. It was also twice as big. It was a two story farmhouse. It fit her family like a glove.
Then they moved in, and it started the first night. At midnight, the dog started barking. Stephanie woke up, thinking he needed to go out. There was a feeling of heaviness, of pressure surrounding her. The dog was not barking at the front door, or even at the steps. He was barking at her daughters’ room. It was his deep bark that he used only when a person came to the door. His, “I am a big dog, fear me,” bark. He stared into space as though there were a person standing there. Stephanie shushed him, but the dog would not be deterred. So, ignoring the feeling that she was being pushed away by a field of unseen energy, she forced her way into her girls’ room, only to see them sleeping peacefully, as though not a sound had been made. She couldn’t escape the feeling of being watched. She called her dog to go outside, in the hopes that fresh air would calm both of them.
Another thing she loved about the house was the clear sky at night. The stars gleamed in the black velvet sky. Only a soft brush of cloud swept over the stars, not able to cover their sparkle. As she walked further into the yard, the breeze blew her hair and she felt a sort of freedom, like the house had been oppressing her in some way. She could breath- for a moment.
It hit her all at once, the darkness, the silence, the cold air. Her ears deceived her at first, but the silence was too dense. The stars were too immovable. The trucks passing, mostly semis taking advantage of the low traffic hours, made no sound, though normally their breaks should hiss and their tires should vibrate the road. The crickets she could hear, their song enveloping her almost completely. With a sharp intake of breath, she realized she also couldn’t hear or see her dog anymore. She swept her flashlight back and forth, more and more frantic. She was afraid to speak, but managed to force out a small, “Luke,” before her breath was choked off. Suddenly, the fresh air was repressive. The looming trees and the darkened sky were pulsating with life, pushing her backward, back into the house. When the small, black furball finally came rushing back to her, she gasped, then turned to walk quickly back into the house, trying to ignore the feeling of being watched from all sides.
The door had not been locked behind her for a second when she was overtaken by the house; its white walls grabbed her, pulling at her fingers, turning into her fingers. The light fixture above her gently tugged at her hair- became her hair. She pushed through the house, her one thought to maintain her hold on herself. She knew, because the house knew, that it only wanted her. Her girls and her husband were safe. Just as it had called to her from the beginning, it was calling to her now begging her to stay.
As the distressed wooden floor reached up to pull her down by her ankles and wrists, the shadows in the corners descended. The cherry color of the wood took over her body, and she was stuck, without having made a single sound.
When morning came, bringing the girls downstairs in search of their mom, they found her at the stove, smile pasted to her face as she finished preparing their breakfast. They were momentarily frightened by the look of satisfied evil on her face, but the eggs were good, so they ate happily, and then ran, their bare feet pattering over the stained, cherry colored floor. The youngest stopped for a moment to notice that the floors pattern looked just like a face in one spot, but her toys were waiting. She skipped on.