Country tranquility

I could understand the rest of my family’s enthusiasm about our new home, it was beautiful.

My husband’s urgent job transfer had left us having to relocate in a hurry to a rambling old homestead with enormous grounds completely surrounded in trees. Beyond the trees were acres and acres of wheat fields, the nearest neighbours were so far off you couldn’t see their houses at all. A small gravel road passed by, but cars passed by so rarely that other than my husbands car, the school bus was often the only vehicle that went by at all.

From the first time we had visited the house, I didn’t feel comfortable there. It was divided down the middle by a wide hallway with little alcoves along its length with the enormous rooms branching off on either side. The hallway itself was very dark and uninviting, while the whole house just felt too large for comfort. When the nor’wester blew, as it did almost constantly, the wind whistled through the cracks around the windows and down the fireplaces adding to the eerie atmosphere.

The kids loved it there however, the trees that surrounded the house may have left me feeling as though I was constantly being watched, but provided them with a wonderful place to play. The dogs enjoyed the space and the landlord was friendly and helpful. I just could not settle in, however.

Every night I would try not to drink anything for several hours before heading to bed and made sure I made plenty of toilet stops before going to sleep in the hopes I wouldn’t have to wake and face that dreadful hallway at night. It may have been mildly unpleasant during the day, but at night time it was far worse. No matter how bright the bulbs we placed there were, they completely failed to illuminate the hallway at all and only served to increase the shadows along the alcoves. My method of getting to the toilet after dark consisted of a headlong mad dash there and an even speedier return. I suppose you might feel that I was simply expecting something to happen, and perhaps you are right.

The first incident happened one morning when I was in the kitchen baking bread. I was quite engrossed in what I was doing and not paying a great deal of attention to what was going on around me. A little girl’s voice piped up behind me and said

” Whatchya doing?”.

I grinned to myself, my daughter was always being nosey. I turned round to ask her if she wanted to help, but she wasn’t there, no one was. Then I realised, I was alone in the house, or at least I was meant to be. The kids were at school and my husband was at work. It seemed to me that despite the way the house made me feel, our little guest seemed friendly enough. I often felt as though someone was in the room with me, not threatening, just quietly observing.

I began to settle down and feel a lot more comfortable, rather than unsettling me, the little voice had made me more comfortable. Not so our dogs however, they flatly refused to come into the house unless there was food on offer.

We only lived there a short time, the landlord asked us to leave so that an employee could move in. I was pleased to be leaving in some ways, and sad in others. On one of our last days in the house, I was packing in the kitchen when I heard that little voice again.

“Where are you going?” it asked me sadly.

I hope that the new occupants appreciated her company.

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