Fates

“What are you working on now, sweetheart?”

“Oh,” said the girl. “I’m just starting something new. I’m not sure. Probably just another ordinary old bit like the last, and it’ll all look the same.” Her fingers moved over the thread, twisting it in a practiced motion as the whorls and tangles of wool smoothed in her hands. They coiled around the bobbin in a perfect circle that grew and swelled as she spun.

Wool

The mother moved closer and looked over her shoulder. With her came the scent of baking bread and a comforting warmth. When she spoke, her voice was a note below shrill. “Don’t say that, dear. Everything you make is lovely, you know that. You mustn’t underestimate nor scorn the thing created.” She held the last skein of just-spun yarn, and without looking at what she did she worked loops, knots and tangles. The fabric jumped and spread from her hands like cold water puddling on stone. It reached with tentative out from itself and then pushed out until it pooled. Its surface held designs, cables and bobbles, twists and twirls and sprays of thread. Her fingers flashed too quickly to see.

The grandmother, in her rocking chair in the corner, chuckled. She was bent over the fabric in her lap, but one elbow rested on the television remote. In a cracked low voice, she said, “Now, child, don’t pay any mind to her. She gets off spinning stories and you’ll forget to spin thread. The thing created, such as she may say. You just keep going with the creation and it’ll figure itself out.”

The house fell silent but for the mutter of the television. The three watched a reporter appear on the screen, microphone poised, waiting for the signal to speak. The woman on the television resettled her blond bob, smiled, and started to talk. The family was still, eyes intent, fingers busy. After a few minutes they bent again to spin and knot and snip. Eventually the mother murmured, “What a shame, that poor boy from down the block, what’s his name? Car crash. Terrible.”

“Oh no,” said the girl. She put her hand over her mouth, leaving the other to twirl tufts of wool lazily over her knees. “Sam? Died?” The mother leaned to her and pressed a kiss onto her forehead.

“Yes,” said the old woman, absently, her face hidden in the shadow of her hunch. “I did that one last week, I remember.” She jerked at the mess in her hands and, with a sharp scrap of sound, tugged a jumble of thread loose. She cast it onto the floor where it sprawled, a cloud of woven wool on the bleached floorboards. “People dying all over the place, there’s a genocide. And car crashes, famine and sickness and accidental falls from eighteenth-story windows. Keeps a body busy, it does.” Neither of the others answered her, and the babble of the television was the only sound for a while.

When the sun began to lower and the light was left in little stretched squares on the wall, the mother bustled behind a counter. She filled the kettle and set it on the stove, all with one hand while her other twisted thread through loops and pulled bits tight and tied. Before long it began to whistle. The shriek of it started, small and thin. It grew until it screeched enough to fill the whole house, and the mother pushed herself out of the chair again and started for the stove.

“Darling,” said the old woman from her corner, her voice high and peevish. “Get that, would you? Nobody likes a nasty thing like that.”

The mother lunged for the kettle and shifted it aside, and suddenly the wail ceased and there was silence in the house.

Noisy Boots

The boots clattered down the stairs with a brisk knocking noise and, when they reached the bottom, paused as if deciding where to go next. Lisa looked up expectantly at Kat, who said, “Those are the ones you just bought today?” Lisa nodded and Kat smiled. “They’re really cute. Definitely have a personality to them.”

“They do, don’t they?” said Lisa. She pried them off her feet and tossed them at the foot of the stairs. Her feet in their polka-dotted socks made no sound as she led Kat into the kitchen. They were there for quite a while. They talked about shopping, and what to do for dinner, and other sundry bits and pieces. From where the boots lay, splayed on the floor, their voices rose and fell like strange low music.

Eventually the two women returned to go back up the stairs. Lisa frowned. “Huh,” she said. “Weren’t those tipped over or something?” Kat looked too at the boots, tidily lined up against the wall, and shrugged. They went upstairs, their toes slipping with little whispers on the wood of the steps. Several minutes passed, and then the music of their voices drifted downstairs. They stayed hidden upstairs until nearly seven, and then they slipped and slid down the stairs again, talking.

Kat arrayed herself on one of the kitchen stools, her skirt tucked neatly under her. Lisa opened the refrigerator. Her eyes grew wide, and she stopped speaking mid-sentence.

“What is it, hon?” Kat asked.

Lisa shook her head, and pointed. “How did they get there?” Kat leaned to look, and her eyes widened too. Crowded on the middle shelf were the boots. One had a carrot sticking out its top. Kat jumped to her feet and went to stand next to Lisa, who said, “Do you think someone’s in the house?” Her voice quavered, but then steadied. “I mean, though, why would someone put my boots in the fridge?” She maneuvered them off the shelf and put them down, letting them drop gently onto the floor.

“You know what?” said Kat. “I think I’m going to run upstairs, bathroom. Be right back.” Lisa nodded and sank into a chair, her head propped on a hand. After a minute, there was a faint thud. She started, but she didn’t see anything.

Kat walked out of the bathroom, smoothing her hair, and almost tripped. There on the floor, entirely innocently, sat the boots. She backed away from them and called downstairs, “Hey, Lisa, want to just go out for dinner?”

Lisa nodded, her gaze fixed at the spot on the kitchen floor where the boots weren’t. Then she coughed and yelled back, “Yeah, sure. I’ll just grab my coat and heels.” Behind Kat, the boots stood taller, relieved, but she was already starting for the stairs and didn’t see anything. Another minute later, the slam of the door echoed through the house and reverberated in the empty rooms.

The boots clattered down the stairs with a brisk knocking noise and, when they reached the bottom, paused as if deciding where to go next.

Journal of Relics

This piece of writing was found scratched onto the wooden wall of a house with what appears to have been a nail. The house has been uninhabited for nearly the century since it was built, and was condemned 75 years ago. For most of those 75 years it has remained in that state.

It has a local history of being used as a playplace for the children of the neighborhood and a dare on Halloween, but while children play games on the property, in the yard and the porch, nobody has been reported to go inside of the building since 1953.

“Hey – READ THIS. I know it is very strange to read something written on the side of a room of an old house, but this is important. Someone needs to know about this place. I came here by accident – this house is fifty years old, I was looking around. I needed to buy a house, I just got a job here, and this place was for sale though nobody had lived here for a long time. Since it was built, maybe. I came to look around and got a little spooked, because – look at this place. Anyway, I came back because there really wasn’t anywhere else and the point is there’s something here. Ghosts. I don’t think it is actually ghosts, or can’t be but I wanted to write it down I’m not sure how much time I have. It seems like ghosts. There are strange sounds, it sounds like somebody else is here and I’m so scared. I want to leave, I was supposed to be back at work an hour ago, but I tried to leave and I couldn’t. I don’t even know why. I don’t think the door is locked and I’ve been trying to walk out of the room but it’s either that I just end up back here or I don’t know I give up. Not on purpose. I want to leave. But I can hear something and it’s shuffling around and this place smells odd, I don’t know what it smells like but kind of cold and flat. It’s making my nose itch. Anyway I don’t know what that thing is maybe it’s just a burglar – just, right, but maybe it’s a person. In any case it’s a person trespassing making strange noises and I can’t leave and I really want to believe it’s a person. If you’re reading this get out, I don’t know what is happening but don’t be like this. Don’t do this. I stayed, I wanted to look around. Don’t. There’s things. And maybe a person. I tried to leave but I couldn’t and I can hear it I don’t know if it knows I’m here but maybe ”

This journal has no data on the identity of the author of this message, or an exact date regarding the time it was written. If a reader has any information, please forward it to GreenHouse Realty, 54 Pond St. The company has requested any knowledge of the house to add to their existing description, as the house is once again on the market.