The first thing Daisy noticed about the house was the draft.
“It’s a little cold in here, isn’t it?” she remarked to the real estate agent as they went up the stairs to look at the bedrooms.
The agent gave her an odd look. “The heating’s on,” he said, going to check the thermostat.
It was, indeed, on.
Daisy stood next to the radiator, feeling the warmth of it, wondering where that odd draft had come from. But it seemed to have disappeared; the house was warm and cosy, everything she had been looking for.
There were two large bedrooms on the upper floor, each with their own attached bathrooms, perfect for when family came to visit or if she decided to take in a lodger. On the ground floor was a cosy living room filled with antique furniture and knick-knacks from the prior owner (a little old lady who’d died the previous year) and an old-fashioned fireplace, a mid-sized kitchen, and a tiny study, should she want to do any ‘serious work’, as the agent put it.
It was perfect, despite the yard being too large (a gardener could be hired, if need be?) and that draft (where was it coming from?). Daisy got the number of the hired man who used to work the yard for the previous owner, but didn’t mention the draft; after all, the real estate agent hadn’t noticed anything. Maybe she was a little too sensitive to the weather.
Daisy paid the down payment on the house and moved in right away.
Elizabeth woke up in the living room. Really, she’d taken to falling asleep all over the house lately. She yawned and stretched, then got up to put the kettle on, only to walk into the coffee table. She stood, blinking confusedly at the table for a while, then looked around the room. Someone had moved the furniture while she’d been a sleep. How rude!
The couch she’d been on had been placed at an angle on the left of the fireplace so that she could rest with toasty toes while looking up occasionally to see that her roast wasn’t burning, which was why she’d gotten up and walked straight ahead towards the kitchen. Only, someone had moved the coffee table that was supposed to be by the head of her couch—to put her tea cup on, of course—into the middle of the room, right in front of the fireplace. Really, where was the sense in that?
Elizabeth shook her head, tutted, moved the coffee table back to its original position, and then went to make a cup of tea.
The kettle was whistling in the kitchen again, but Daisy was quite sure she hadn’t put it on. It had taken to whistling at odd hours of the day, usually at eleven in the morning, well past when Daisy had her breakfast, and then again at three in the afternoon, when she was busy working in the study.
Sure enough, the kettle was warm, but it was empty. She put it away, locking it in the cupboard for good measure (There! See if those hooligans could get at it now). She was almost at the study door when she realised something looked different. She stood in the doorway, surveying the living room. Someone had moved the coffee table. Well, she was too tired to move it again, so she decided to let it be.
Daisy shivered. That draft was too much. She’d have to find someone to fix it.
It wasn’t funny. Why anyone would think that pranking a little old lady was a good idea, Elizabeth couldn’t fathom. How could she have elevenses if the kettle was locked away? She’d gone searching up and down the kitchen for it, but it had been nowhere to be found. Someone had locked this cupboard though—really, this was too much—so it had to be in there.
Elizabeth fretted, wondering who she could call. Maybe that nice young man down the road who did her yard could help. He’d know how to pick the lock, or maybe he’d be able to help her find the key. She had to admit—her eyesight wasn’t what it used to be. She’d lost many a thing in the last year, especially with all her furniture being moved around by pranksters. Resolutely, she marched out of the house, letting the door slam behind her.
The slam of the door jolted Daisy from her mid-morning nap. Those hooligans again! The furniture, then the kettle, and now, the door. And that perfectly nice real estate agent hadn’t even warned her that there were hoodlums in this area who enjoyed breaking into people’s houses! Admittedly, they hadn’t stolen anything (she’d checked all her belongings to be sure), but they were very annoying.
Daisy went down and had another look around. Nothing had gone missing, though someone had obviously been rifling through the kitchen cupboards. What did they expect to find in there? Hidden money? She wasn’t one of those little old ladies who kept spare cash in a jar in the kitchen. She’d had enough. It was a Saturday, so the real estate agent was probably not going to pick up her call, but she’d seen a man (the hired man the agent mentioned, she thought) in one of the houses down the road when she was coming back from the store the other day. Maybe he’d know what was going on in this neighbourhood.
Alex looked up in alarm at the sight of two ladies beelining towards him, one alive and one very much dead. It was at times like this that he hated his ability to see and speak with the dead. Well, he should have expected it. He’d known Elizabeth’s spirit hadn’t left the house yet, but hadn’t done anything about it or mentioned it the last time he’d worked on her yard.
Now he was going to have to explain to the new occupant that she was sharing the house with a ghost and to Elizabeth that she’d left the physical plane. How fun.
Partially because we were supposed to do suspense, with elements of foreshadowing, shifting points of view, withheld information and lines of convergence, if I got that all right.
But also partially because I promised someone on twitter a ghost story.
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