Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction
The Creases in the New House By Lucy Grace
At the top of the hour, Sarah shivered as she listened to the weather forecast. ‘North winds doth blow’. A white feather settled on the outside windowsill.
“And we shall have snow,” she murmured, finishing the childhood rhyme with a glance at the glowering sky. Who could tell what the slate clouds will produce? A skein of geese flew underneath in a tight wedge, heading for warmer climes, away from the growling winter.
“If only,” she thought, longingly.
Lifting the duvet high at the end of the bed, she brought it down sharply, trying to redistribute the feathers within. She had slept badly again during the night, mocked by the pale glow of clock numbers measuring the hours until dawn. Whilst awake, she had lain as still as a corpse on a mortuary slab lest her husband be disturbed and enraged. The new house on Anser Way still felt stiff with creases like a new shirt, unworn. She made no sound as she walked between rooms, her step muffled in milky carpets. The result was an uneasy sensation that she was not in contact with the ground but floating above it.
A sudden burst of laughter came from the back of the empty house. Sarah stopped. She was here alone. Approaching the kitchen, she paused, afraid to go in. From under the door a foamy tide of small white feathers surged towards her bare feet, causing her to step back. There was another burst of noise. Now, closer, it did not sound like laughter, it was more animalistic, reminiscent of squawking. Like geese. Holding her breath, Sarah opened the door onto a silent room, soft and full. At once she felt a covering of down over her face, and as she blinked, more feathers attached to her eyelashes, preventing her from seeing. She tried to brush filaments from her lips with the back of her hand, but they invaded her mouth making it difficult to speak. Desperately seeking clean air, her jaw moved repeatedly but issued only slices of thick silence. She scrabbled behind her to find the door handle and was met with smooth painted wall – the door was gone. Clawing at her face to remove the filmy material, her fingernails caught sharply against her teeth. Suddenly, with an almighty inhalation, Sarah opened her eyes fully onto an empty kitchen. A small white feather pasted to the cold sweat on her forehead lost adhesion and floated gently to the floor.
Outside, the first flakes of snow began to fall and cover the ground, settling on the indentation where the old reservation lake used to be. No Native Americans here anymore - they and the vast gaggle of geese had left in a plump.
Sarah folded her arms around herself in a hug. She wondered whether the house would ever forget the previous occupants. Would they ever let it go? Sighing, she turned away from the window and went upstairs, to finish making her bed.
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