First Place – The Skagway News Spooky Story Contest. Thank you to everyone who submitted stories.
By Danielle Wheeler
The house wasn’t haunted when she bought it.
A steal at $50,000, it hadn’t even needed any work, aside from some updated décor and furniture.
Mildred couldn’t believe her luck.
The richly autumn-hued Craftsman bungalow, two tiers tall with a serviceable bedroom loft, was as compact as Mildred herself when compared to the neighborhood’s grander homes. It suited her personality perfectly, and served her well into retirement. Mildred’s days were spent as she pleased, sewing dresses in the latest fashion by the large, lit bay window, or conducting baking experiments in the cozy, cream-tiled kitchen. On occasion when the weather was sunny and bright could she be found outside tending to the small, blossoming rose garden out front.
She preferred to live alone.
It was on a particularly sultry day in August when she first saw them.
Glimpses of full-bodied apparitions, in her home.
She’d set about trimming the last of the rose bushes closest to the bay window when she sat back on her haunches for a break, wiping a glistening sheen of sweat from her forehead. From under the brim of her hat did Mildred close her eyes, exhaling a breath as the sun sat high in the noontime sky. When she re-opened them, the reflection in the adjacent window was not her own.
Mildred gasped aloud, scuttling backwards across the grass.
The face that met hers through the window was that of a young girl, no older in years than there were fingers on one hand, which shook as she brought it to her lips. Before Mildred could consider what she was seeing, the other visage vanished.
Owing her experience to heat exhaustion, Mildred finished her task before heading inside for a tall drink of cold water.
* * * * * * *
A week passed before she saw the child again.
Mildred sat sewing when she was engulfed in a cloud of cloves and allspice. She stood abruptly, making her way to the kitchen, where the scent was strongest.
There, at the table, sat the little girl.
The appearance was brief, but Mildred knew what she saw.
* * * * * * *
As Halloween drew nearer, and the veil between the worlds grew thinner, Mildred on occasion saw a young woman.
She really wished they would just leave her alone.
One day, as she sliced vegetables for supper, she heard hushed voices from her sewing room when there should have been none. Creeping lightly down the hall with a knife in her grasp, she stopped short of the doorframe, and listened.
“Mommy,” Mildred heard the child inquire tremulously, “who’s that old lady?”
Before Mildred could respond indignantly, the girl’s mother spoke.
“Sweetie, that’s Mildred,” and Mildred smiled proudly as she was acknowledged by name, “but she’s dead.”
Mildred faltered in shock.
“Will she hurt us?” asked the child.
“No, my dear!” said the mother. “You may see her from time to time, but we all live here now. Together.”
That, Mildred decided as she tightened her grip on the knife, simply would not do.