Saturday, July 31, 2010
MAGPIE/ Prompt #25
The Havilland mansion was the place we kids were warned to stay away from. No one had lived there for years. No historic elegance remained. It stood abandoned and was allowed to diminish at nature's whim. The grey shingles, long ago torn off and tossed by the wind, gave the summer bats easy entry into the attic. The front door, the lock long since missing, swung and creaked, holding on, hanging by one hinge. No path lead to the door. Tall grass and broken branches moved back and forth, dancing an old jig.
When I walked past the old house, I always tried to see over the stalks, believing that the three Havilland sisters were making their way up the rotting stairs.
I saw no one, but sometimes heard a music box chiming, "Three Blind Mice...", that wasn't anywhere to be seen. I wanted to go closer. Of course I was afraid, but this time prepared. I clutched a handful of silver saints and angels to protect me.
The stories about Emma, Louise and Mary Havilland were still told in whispers. If one girl could disappear, it was said, no matter the passage of years, another girl could vanish too.
The police eventually gave up finding a solution to Mary's disappearance. Many years after the case became cold, a reporter from Life Magazine came to town to find a ghost story for the Halloween issue. I'm posting the photo they featured on the cover. They told the story of Mary going out for a walk on the eve of her wedding, taking the path behind the house, climbing the slight incline to the gazebo, leaving a pink silk ribbon with a drop of blood, twisted around a string of pearls, and never coming back. Except in a legend, told over and over, as the grey girl on the stairs, signaling us to follow her.
I pushed the high grass aside, kept my head down as I made my way to the splintered door. I tripped on the third step up, my foot went through the rot, and when I bent to rub the scrape, I saw, beneath the earth, a rusted lock. I brushed the years of soil off it, tried to fit it to the front door, from which it must have tumbled. Playing with it, I put my eye to the peephole and pushed the door in.
The hallway was buried in deep night. A scurrying outline brushed against me, but I kept the lock pressed to my eye because I saw something through it. Ascending the stairs was a shadowy figure, a floating gown, a grey girl, a pink ribbon in her hair, pearls unstrung cascading down her dress, smiling a dark smile, beckoning for me to follow.
I'd run so fast from Mary's wraith, never spoke a word of my encounter.
I've found the lock after all these years. I had tossed it into a box of broken dolls, forced my self to forget it. Never held it again till now.
I wonder what I'd see through the peephole if I held it up to my eye?
Emma, Mary and Louise Havilland
Thanks again to Willow @ magpie tales for a terrific challenge..and don't forget to check the other responders!!