Here’s my third short story! I was inspired because I’m moving home soon, into my very first home! I’m gonna be a home owner! Woo!
As usual, I’ve created a cover for this story because I like playing around with cover design, and I’ve put this at the end of the story. Ps – I’m using my nom de plume of Laurana Stevens so that’s what’s on the cover!
I hope you enjoy!
The wind bites at my nose and cheeks a little bit as I stand on the secluded path in front of an old but well-kept farm- style house. It’s gorgeous. It’s two stories tall and the floor plan is incredibly generous. The woodwork needs a bit of TLC and the windows probably need resealing in some places, but it’s in incredibly good condition. And it’s all mine.
I stand admiring the place from the gate at the top of the garden whilst daydreaming about all the interior design possibilities I could conjure to life. I don’t know the layout of the house too well, I’ve only been inside a handful of times, and I was a child when that happened. The house used to be Ma’s, my grandma, and she had it written into her will that her house should be left to me, her only grandchild, as both of her own children already had houses of their own. Unless I didn’t want it of course, then the house would default to my mum and uncle for them to sell. Her decision pissed my uncle off quite a bit as I think he wanted the money from the sale. But Ma figured the house would serve me better as a starter home than used to line the pockets of her children who were already getting by. My mum thinks Ma’s idea was a sweet one and has kept my uncle away from me as he really does seem quite bitter about it. I’ve never exactly been close to my uncle, but he’s sent me quite a few mean-spirited messages across several apps over the last few weeks and it’s freaked me out a little bit.
I pull out my phone to check the time. Where is the damn solicitor? I think to myself and shove my phone back in my pocket. The air is the kind of crisp which is cute for a ten minute walk into town to go and get a hot chocolate, but when you’re stood by yourself on a back country road in the middle of the British countryside it’s not so fun. In fact, it’s fucking cold. The solicitor is now fifteen minutes late to give me my keys. Eventually I hear a car engine down the road and when I turn I can see a sleek black BMW round the corner. Finally I think to myself.
The solicitor, a plump short man who is desperately trying to hide the fact that he’s balding, pulls up in the layby at the top of the path and gets out of his car. He’s got a takeaway Starbucks cup in his hand. So that’ll explain why he’s late then, apparently his low fat latte was more important than doing his job.
“So, today’s the day!” he says, pompously, instead of apologising for his lateness.
“Better late than never, huh?” I jab back, in monotone. This man has been difficult throughout the entire process. I wasn’t exactly close with Ma, but it’s kinda lucky I wasn’t because this ass has had no sympathy at any point during our interactions, so I don’t feel guilty being rude.
“Yes, well. Shall we?” he asks.
“We shan’t, I shall. If it’s all the same to you.” I say, holding my hand out for the keys.
“I beg your pardon?” he asks, quite affronted.
“I don’t believe you need to enter the premises in order to conclude business here, do you? As far as I’m aware your job concludes with you handing me the keys to my new house…and that’s it.”
“Well, yes, that’s correct.” He blusters.
“Right then, I’ll take those keys now. I’ve been stood out in the cold for fifteen minutes longer than I needed to be due to your disregard for our appointment. So…” I push my empty hand further forwards to emphasise what I want. The solicitor gives me a dirty look up and down, curls his lip and huffs out a sigh as he hands me the keys and a file of paperwork that includes the deeds and other important documents.
“Thank you.” I smile sweetly. “Have a nice day.” I turn and open the gate and almost skip down the pathway to my new front door. I smile smugly as I hear the BMW engine roar and eventually recede around the corner. I place the key in the door and turn. It’s a little bit sticky and takes a bit of effort to get it fully turned. It’s an old lock; I must remember to get it changed at some point, but right now a sticky lock isn’t anything to worry about. My smile widens as I take my first steps into my very first home.
Of course, how I got to own the house is sad. Seeing my mum wracked with grief at losing her mother was a horrifying experience, and I know it’s one that I’ll one day experience for myself. And of course I’d rather have the person than the house. But I also know that my Ma wanted to give this to me, and there’s something so freeing about being twenty four and having my own home. No mortgage, no rent. Just bills, groceries and decorating to think about!
I wander around the house, taking my time as I aimlessly meander from room to room and imagine what I want to do with the place. I run my hands over the wood of the doorframes, I’m not particularly nostalgic, and I always thought this was a cliché part in movies, but I find myself naturally doing it too.
There’s so much stuff still all here, in every room. My mum and my uncle visited a short while ago to clear any personal effects out, but they left useful items like armchairs, couches, the kitchen appliances and various other things that I wouldn’t have realised I needed or took for granted until they weren’t conveniently there for me already. So I’m pretty much already set up with everything I need. So now it’s just a matter of replacing things piece by piece to suit my own tastes and style. Except for a bed, I’ll need one of those pretty quickly. I’d asked my mum to get rid of the bed – there’s just something creepy about sleeping in a dead person’s bed.
I end my own little private self-tour of my new home in the living room. I take a deep breath, part with satisfaction and part with a nervous but excited apprehension. As the air fills my lungs I’m aware of a slight scent still lingering here – freesias, just like Ma’s perfume, only it’s mixed with the dust that’s settled since the house has laid empty. It’s time to start making this place mine.
I set to work clearing odds and ends that I don’t need from each room; spatulas and whisks from the kitchen, spare pillowcases in the bedroom, cushions and blankets from the living room – all things I already own and can replace with my versions of them. Although I do keep a handful of the takeaway menus that were stuffed in that drawer in the kitchen – you know, the one we all have, the one that’s full of menus from places we never order from, spare cables and fuses, and instruction manuals to things we either don’t need instructions for or no longer own. I’m going to try not to have that drawer, although I’m sure that won’t last long. But there’s just something about having a bunch of takeaway menus tucked away somewhere that feels both childish and grown-up at the same time. It just feels so homely. So they get tucked back into the drawer, even though I’ll be checking my apps for any and all deliveries anyway.
After an hour or so of tidying up I decide that it’s time to clean. Don’t get me wrong, the house is clean, but I just need to clean it myself, just so I know, you know? It’s not like I’m trying to banish Ma’s spirit, I’m not going to be burning sage or anything, but I just want to know that I’m starting things my own way, and be responsible for it.
A house is a finite area, but this is a big house and I know I’ve got a couple of hours of hard graft ahead of me to clean this thing from top to bottom. It’s probably going to take me well into the evening. Luckily I’ve already transferred both my utilities account and my broadband over to this address, so I’ll be set up with an entertaining and warm atmosphere whilst I scrub, polish and clean away.
As the day gives in to the night I finally put down my wipes, sprays, sponges and bleach with a satisfied exhale, happy with my work. The whole house is clean and today, but not in that sterile hospital way. The only thing missing now is food, my first meal in my new place. I dig out my phone and go searching on the multiple delivery apps I have to look for locals that deliver to my new postcode. Turns out, there’s not very many. I honestly can’t say I’m surprised, a house out in the middle of nowhere halfway down a country road – I’m amazed I even have a choice of cuisine to choose from. Ultimately there’s an Indian, Thai, Chinese and pizza takeaway that are willing to come down here. It’s good to know I have a variety but tonight calls for pizza – it’s another house moving cliché, how could I not? I order my food and collapse on the couch and stream some nonsense videos whilst I wait.
A short time later I’m scared nearly out of my skin when I hear a loud knock on my door. Is that the pizza guy? I know it obviously is, but it’s just super unnerving that I didn’t even know he was there. I didn’t hear the car on the road, or hear it pull up; I didn’t even hear his footsteps up the gravel path from the gate. I don’t have a doorbell either so he had to result to a loud pound on the door. My ribs sympathise with the wood of my door as my heart hit them with the same. I guess it’s really secluded, quiet and peaceful out here.
I collect my pizza, tip the driver and pop the box down as I lock the door with some difficulty. The damn thing sticks a fair bit and after a mini-wrestling match with the lock, and a fair bit of noise, later I finally get it secure. I return to my streaming and happily eat my pizza, congratulating myself on a job well done for the day.
The evening winds down eventually and I’m warm, happy and have a belly full of pizza. Naturally I’ve saved three slices for breakfast – cold takeaway pizza the day after is just the best. I check my locks one last time and head up to my bedroom. I’ve set up my blow-up bed and thrown all my blankets on it and gradually fall asleep to the sound of silence, and the occasional owl.
I spend the next day moving my things in to my new home now that it’s all clean. I feel so refreshed after having a surprisingly restful night. I wasn’t sure if the silence would be deafening for me as I’m used to a slightly noisier night-time atmosphere, but I already feel used to the quiet. By the end of the day my muscles are screaming at me and I’m drenched in sweat – I never knew I had so much crap! But I’m still looking forward to unboxing it all room by room. I go to lock the front door before I jump in the shower – some old habits die hard. I know I’m alone here, but I still can’t bring myself to leave a door unlocked if I’m going to be naked, although I do decide to keep my bathroom door open – no sense squandering all my freedom!
After I’ve dried myself off and dressed myself, I decide to head into the closest town to get a small grocery shop. I grab my purse and my reusable bags and head out to my front door, and to my surprise it’s unlocked. That’s odd. I could have sworn I locked it before my shower. I guess I forgot to.
I busy myself over the next few days with an Ikea visit and disappear into a decorating void for the rest of the week, dancing around in each room to my blaring music. Great thing about not having neighbours, no noise complaints! The only thing that’s soured my mood this past week was a text from my uncle asking if I’m enjoying my new house. I just deleted it; I doubt he was being sincere and I’m sure he was being an asshole.
I throw myself completely into my planning and plotting – I’m even thinking about growing some veggies in the garden, it’s certainly big enough for it. I think in another few days this place will be ready to invite a few people over for a little house warming party. It’d be nice to have my friends round. I’m alone here, but not lonely – although it’d be nice to have a few other faces around so I send out a few invites over social media.
I go and fight the front door lock for dominance again and head on up to bed. My first week in my new place has been both exhausting and uplifting. I’ve still got a few things to do around the house like re-decorating a couple of the rooms and a few extra pieces of furniture I need, like a real bed, but I’m happy. I drift off to sleep with thoughts of light renovation in my head.
I’m awoken later that night by the sound of rattling metal. What the hell? I look outside and it’s pitch black, it must be the middle of the night. What the hell is that noise? After a few more seconds of the sound of old metal clashing against old metal, I hear a loud bang and fear shudders down my spine and a cold sweat sheens my skin. I suddenly know exactly what that noise was. That’s the lock on my front door…that’s my front door being opened. There’s someone inside my house in the middle of the night – and they have a key!
In all my excitement I forgot to change the locks on my door. I barely have time to finish my thought when I hear footsteps rapidly climbing the stairs. I grab my phone and begin to dial the emergency services as I race towards my bedroom door. I fling it open and there’s a tall shadowy figure on the other side. I can’t tell who they are, and I don’t have time to react before the figure crashes into me and knocks me to the floor. My phone is knocked out of my hand and skitters across my floor, but it’s connected to the emergency services. Unfortunately the hands of my attacker have also connected around my throat and are bearing down on me with their owner’s entire weight.
I can’t fight back; my arms flail, wildly trying to connect with the intruders face and my legs kick underneath me to no avail. My vision begins to spot with darkness and I can feel the blood in my face heat up and there’s so much pressure behind my eyes.
“Ma’am, are you there? Can you hear me?” the operator’s voice is small and tinny coming from my phone, and it’s the last thing I hear as the intruder lifts my near-limp head up by my throat and slams my head hard into the floor.
And that’s the end of that short story! Here’s my fantasy cover for this story!
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