Premise: A family moves into an old Victorian house in a sleepy town where everybody knows everybody. The house has been vacant for the last five years, and nobody knows why the previous family left so suddenly.
Prompt: Write a 500-word story, but write it from the perspective of the house, not the family.
She drips coffee on the counter and the floor, not noticing the stains to be as she floats, almost dances, on a sunbeam to the boxes gathered in the living room. The children quarrel upstairs, but she hums as she lifts belonging after belonging, contemplating its perfect abode, then finding its home.
The neighbor arrives with a gift basket and peeks inside saying, “You’ve done a great job with the space.” She doesn’t mean it. She doesn’t mention her friends, The Wilsons, who had lived in the house until that day, five years ago, when they appeared to just stop existing. They would have said something if they were moving away, but that day, they were gone. She does say that it is nice to have neighbors again and she hopes the house treats them well.
The new owner invites the neighbor in, but she doesn’t cross the threshold saying she is in a hurry, but to come visit soon.
The girl upstairs screams, “Mom, he hit me.”
Mom yells back, “Jayden don’t hit your sister.”
She goes back to humming and starts filling all of the electrical sockets with plugs. She doesn’t seem to mind the lack of ground wires and puts adapters on many of her cables. That might be interesting.
The man comes home and the children come flying down the stairs screaming, “Daddy, Daddy.” The railing wavers and barely holds the boy’s weight.
“You’ve really spruced this place up,” Daddy says and kisses Mom on the cheek.
“The neighbor came by and brought us a gift basket. She wouldn’t come in. It was weird,” she says.
“Don’t worry. Small towns like this fear change. I’m sure it’s nothing,” Daddy says.
Dinner smells good and the warmth of the clunky, old furnace and the fire in the hearth throws the cold and dark out of the grand dining room.“It’s hard to believe no one has lived here for five years and it’s still in such good shape,” says Daddy.
“Right?” Mom says. “It’s like even spiders and dust don’t want this beautiful place for some reason.”
They laugh, happy with their amazing luck and skillful purchase. The moment is full of hope for the future of their family.
I laugh along feeling my part in the warmth and joy.
Suddenly, they stop laughing and sit stiffly.
“Did you feel that?” Mom says.
“It’s an old house,” Daddy says. “Old houses settle and creek and stuff. The inspector said the foundation is solid. Don’t worry.”
She relaxes, but I know this won’t work. The honeymoon is over. It’s just like the Wilsons.
About the Author
Maria L. Berg enjoys brisk swims in the Pacific Northwest. Her flash fiction has been published in Five on the Fifth. When not writing adult fiction, she writes and photo-illustrates Gator McBumpypants adventure stories.