They had 5000 entries, and only posted 10.
This was my first entry, where I found 600 words REALLY limits you.. as I had written 600 words and was originally only 1/4 the way into the story.
Anyway, this is what I submitted. Maybe one day I will go back through & write the story as I really saw it.
Some people swore that the house was haunted. I knew it was. Once every summer it sucked me in and wouldn’t release me until 5pm, when mom could come get me.
“Hi Great-Grandma. I’m here. Going to get a drink, ‘kay?” She glanced at me for a moment before smiling and nodding, then going back to a glittering Mr. Barker. She seemed big in the tiny room, holding a loveseat, her chair, and the other lazy-boy, still holding grooves as if it was still occupied, instead of empty for years.
A table took up the entry room, extended as if all 5 kids could come to dinner at any moment. Her bedroom door sat open, and I averted my eyes as if just peeking in crossed some unknown boundary into the spirit world. I passed instead through a small doorway, into the green-tiled kitchen. Finding a small empty jar in the cabinet, I filled it with yellowed water, the sloshing echoing through the house, an intruder on the houses emptiness. Retreating to the room that held a willing prisoner, I eyed the loveseat, dusty, decaying, and overfilled with handmade doilies. Enraptured by the next Showcase Showdown, lost in her own world, I wondered if she even knew I was there. Crossing the room, I sat tentatively in the grooves, the chair enveloping me. I eyed a strange arm groove, and put my arm in it, across the arm, and the angle causing my fingers to brush her chair.
The moment the connection was made, the air crackled and shifted. I pulled my arm back, but the room was replaced by one with a toddler racing small metal cars around an infant lying on a blanket. I glanced in the chair next to me at a young woman, and we watched a girl bringing her beau into the room, excitedly introducing him. The boy scrutinized the floor as the girl looked above me, then continued to my chest when I stood up. I stepped softly into the main room, into a thanksgiving feast where children and adults sat around the table, eating and laughing as the youngest took a sip of wine. Movement in the bedroom caught my attention, and I watched a couple laughing and playing the dance of lovers, teasing touches and mischievous looks. Right on top of them, the couple entered again, aged ten years, the dance angry, frustrated, and violent. The both men raised their hand, and both women fell to the bed laying over each other. I found myself crying out and turning away, into the kitchen teeming with life and lives, lights twinkled along the walls, everyone danced, shared, laughed, and lived. The family at the dinner table exploded with laughter, and watched the youngest slip down his chair and under the table with a smile.
A break in the crowd and a teenage boy carried a bag from the kitchen, through the crowd around him, and tears fell from every watching eye. When he opened the door, an icy wind whipped through the house; the crowd braced and then washed away – taking with them everything but the dust.
I moved back to my great-grandmother, and my great-grandfather in the empty seat next to her. She looked over, through me, and smiles. “You know, sometimes I think this house is haunted” she said.
Haunted by time, lives, and memories. Within a year, it was haunted by her, and I never saw it again. And with the knowledge that one day I wanted to be haunted, nothing was ever the same again after that.
(the picture is from the Utah Land Management website, I think. I found it years ago, and is actually of a house we once lived in, not the house I wrote the story about. I can’t remember the address of that one…)