10.31.2014 Journal Prompt

Image from To Kill a Mockingbird
Image from To Kill a Mockingbird

October 31, 2014: It was a scary place.

One Reply to “10.31.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. It was like something from a movie. All the curtains on the windows was closed and the porch sagged and shutters hung crooked. It was like something from one of they black and white movies with the midnight music all dramatic, and breathless pauses held for the longest time, and you could hear strings straining, and there shoulda been mist and cobwebs and a moon dipping behind dark clouds. We called it the old widder’s place and we sometimes dared each other to touch the front door or post notes through the letterbox.

    There was a woman lived there and she was the widder and she shoulda been old, but she wasn’t. Not old like ministers is old or grandparents. We didn’t know that at first and we just made up how she was. Mostly she was wicked and a witch and we talked us-selves scared and that made touching her front door more of a thing.

    Then one day I saw her, up close. I was on her front porch, creeping like a thief, and the others watching at a distance to make sure I kept to the terms of the dare. She was at her window, just her face, and she was watching me. I got a fright seeing her, but not because she was old or green or nothing. It was just seeing her and not expecting to. Truth is she was sorta pretty and sad and pale.

    I said we should leave the old widder’s place alone after that. But I kept going back, and once I found a small penknife on the front steps, wrapped in newspaper and string. The knife had my name engraved on it and I understood it was a present from the widder. I took to leaving her presents in return, just fruit that I’d got from Kippie’s orchard, apples and plums and pears; or flowers in bunches picked from mam’s garden, small bunches so mam wouldn’t notice; once I left a bar of lemon soap stolen from Macie’s.

    We got to be friends for a while, the widder and me. She’d come to the door, open it a crack and say my name. She’d ask me stuff, ask me to describe the main street, or the trees on the edge of the park, or the church with its white picket fence and the stones in the graveyard all tipsy. Each time the door was open a little wider until one day it was as wide as a welcome and I went inside.

    It smelled of mothballs in that house and the widder was dressed in a long white dress that covered her feet, like she was going to a wedding or a christening. Her name was Lillian and she liked to just hold my hand. I was maybe eleven and she was a grown woman and we sat on the sofa in her front room and she held my hand and she sometimes called me Jack even though she knowed my name was Lewis.

    I don’t know how many times I went inside the old widder’s house, but I remember the last time and how just as I was leaving and I said that I’d be back the next day, and I promised I would, well, she pulled me to her and she held me close to her, so gentle and so close – close enough I could feel the warmth of her through her clothes and I could hear the beating of her heart – or maybe that was my heart I heard beating. And Lillian stroked my hair and she said I was the best thing in her life and I always would be. I don’t think she was really meaning me… I think it was Jack who was the best thing and I didn’t know who Jack was.

    It was the next day when Lucy Weekes went missing. She was seven. They found her dress and one of her shoes just laying on the grass up by the church. There was policemen all over the neighbourhood for days and they was asking all sorts of questions and making notes in small black books. And there was stories told afterwards, when Lucy Weekes was never found, and all our prayers that she would be found went unanswered. And the stories we told was dark enough to make your hair turn white. And some of them involved the old widder, ‘cept like I said, she warn’t really old.

    Mam was real jumpy for the longest time and she said I was on no account to go anywhere near the old widder’s place and none of us kids was and from the look on mam’s face I knowed she was serious.

    She don’t live there now, Lillian. She upped and moved and a real nice family moved in and the curtains on the house ain’t hardly ever closed and the porch got a new lick of paint and there’s flowers growing in the garden now and it don’t never look scary. It’s called the Harrison place now – that’s the name of the family that moved in. I still pass the hose sometimes, and I know it don’t make no sense, but I catch myself looking for Lillian’s face at the window and feeling sad when I don’t see her.

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