Guiseppe’s House

Guiseppes House

This is a story about a haunted house. 

And although most stories about haunted houses are scary or creepy, this story begs to differ.

Once upon a time, back in 2012, Guiseppe Moretti, 45 year old builder and lover of all things old and antique had found the most perfect house in Melbourne’s inner city suburbs.  He had been saving hard over the years building or renovating other peoples houses and finally had saved enough money to buy his own dream home.  His mates all thought he was silly looking for the oldest most dilapidated Victorian house to restore to it’s former beauty, but Guiseppe wanted something to restore that was his, and his alone.  Knowing how much Guiseppe wanted a wife and kids his friends remarked “Mate, you are never going to find a woman to knock up living in that house, especially seeing how much time it’s going to take you to fix it!”

Guiseppe had been looking around for a house to restore for the past few years and had found several suitable places,  but those mainland Chinese developers seemed to always outbid him everytime, much to his annoyance.  But Chinese were afraid of Ghosts, and perhaps that was the reason the interest in this particular house was next to nil.  It also helped that the house was in an area of the city where houses new, old, or restored had to keep the period feel to it, and Chinese just so happen to be lovers of modernity.

David the property agent being Chinese himself wondered how on Earth he would manage to sell this house that he secretly worried would collapse on his head if he stuck around too long, especially since he had to tell potential buyers that two children had died in the house, albeit years ago, and that the house was renowned for it’s ghosts.   David learned first hand that the rumours were true  after one freaky evening whilst showing the property to a middle-aged couple who couldn’t seem to agree on anything.  The two ghosts of the children decided to make a show of their dislike of this couple intruding their unwelcomed unhappiness upon them by slamming all the doors shut at once and giving them a nasty fright.

So it came as a surprise to David when Guiseppe put in an offer after viewing the property early on a bright sunny Saturday morning.  The ghosts were up to their usual ghostly mischief that day.  Guiseppe marched through the house whistling a tune, the biggest grin on his face, his false teeth glistening from the light shining through from the windows.  Much to David’s surprise, Guiseppe didn’t seem the least bit phased as closet doors opened, just long enough for Guiseppe to have a good look, and then closed again as his eyes drifted to another part of the room.  It was as if the two children were trying to give Guiseppe a tour of the house.  David believed it was a sign that the ghosts were as happy with Guiseppe as he was with the house.

Once all the details had been sorted out and the property was his, Guiseppe moved in on a rainy autumn Sunday morning.  While standing in the middle of the sitting room with it’s bluish green wall paper spotted with white patches like a peacock where the paper had peeled off,  dust bunnies hiding in all the corners,  Guiseppe said in a loud booming voice that reverberated through the entire house  “Good morning children, nice to meet you both, I’m Guiseppe, I’m sure we will get along just fine!”  The half opened door to the sitting room creaked as it opened fully.

Guiseppe would tell the children stories as he worked on the house, some his Nonna had told him about Italy before the war, and other times about his own life, and how he could never meet the right woman to give him the kids he’d always dreamed of having.  At night he would sing them an old Italian hymn to help them sleep.  The children grew all the more fond of Guiseppe and did their best to help him, bringing him more nails,  a particular tool he was after that was just out of reach, and once even zipping up his jumper when he told them he was feeling a bit cold.  As the restorations progressed, Guiseppe realized he had grown quite fond of his little helpers as well and he wished they could walk, talk and play like children who are alive.  Guiseppe enjoyed their company so much he found himself meeting up with his mates less and less and instead stayed home and had a fun evening at home playing a board game with the ghost kids.  His mates in-turn scratched their bottoms and started to question his sanity.

He told the invisible children one day that he wished they were able to talk back to him.  Later that week while watching The Block, his favourite home restoration reality show on Channel 9, one of the children grabbed ahold of the remote and started flicking through the channels.  “Hey,  I was watching that, silly kids, there are no cartoons on at this time of the night!”  The channels flicked and flicked and then stopped on a channel airing the Twilight Zone.  Guiseppe hadn’t seen that show in years, but loved watching it as a child.   The episode was about a little girl who brings home a talking doll.  The doll winked, and spoke as if possessed by a ghost.  So engrossed in the show was he, that it took a good 15 minutes for the lightbulb in his head to switch on.  “A talking ghost doll, that’s brilliant, kids you are genuises!”

Without further ado, Guiseppe turned on his computer, Googled antique dolls and found the perfect thing.  An antique dealer in Adelaide was selling some old life sized puppets from the 1950s, like the puppet from the Howdy Doody show, with a mouth that opened and closed as it spoke.  One puppet was a boy with dark curly hair and a V-Neck jumper, and the other was a girl with perfect golden locks in a dark green dress.  Although well worn, the dolls were in tact and apparently still worked.  With a few clicks of the mouse the dolls were his.

Two weeks later a tall lanky Indian man in a DHL uniform knocked on the door.  The dolls had arrived.  No sooner had the courier driven off when the two kids were ripping open the package like it was Christmas morning.  Paper and wrapping materials flew in all directions in the stale breeze-less hot summer room.  The dolls lay still for 5 minutes and just as Guiseppe started to wonder if the kids had finally met their object moving match, an arm jerked upwards, followed by a foot.  It took another 10 minutes for the kids to fully get the hang of possessing the dolls, and within 20 minutes they were dancing around the room in them.   Mastering the speech seemed to be a little more challenging.  That first day all that came out were a series of mouse like squeaks.   Within a week however he had learned that the two children were called Albert and Emma.  Their own alcoholic abusive father had died in the last World War, and their unhappy mother lost her mind and poisoned Albert and Emma to death with arsenic.   After their mother was sent to a mental institution, the house was sold to a cranky childless couple who ignored them no matter how much noise they made.  They had felt unwanted and unloved.  Guiseppe was the loving father they had always wanted and never had until now.

Come winter, so accustomed to possessing the dolls and being like real children again Albert and Emma took to following Guiseppe everywhere, sometimes even when he left the house. When the neighbors weren’t looking,  they would climb into his old Ford and buckle themselves in the backseat and demand to hear another story as they drove around town.    The more he got to know the two kids, the more difficult he found being apart from them.  He found a job with a company that restored antiques and did all the restorations from his garage.  His friends gave up on him eventually but it didn’t matter to Guiseppe.  He had everything he wanted, two kids of his own that never aged, a beautifully restored house, and all the time in the world to spend there with them.

As the years past by, the neighbours came to see him as a somewhat deluded recluse who talked to himself all day, and thus they all avoided him.  They believed the haunted house had made him crazy.  His friends had stopped calling ages ago.  Rather than feel alone, Guiseppe was content and truly happy for the first time in his life.

Twenty years after buying the house,  Guiseppe suffered a stroke and died, so heartbroken were Albert and Emma, that they decided to shed their battered and several times repaired puppet shell and cross over to the other side together with him.

That was the last time a ghost lived in that house.

The end.

I wrote this story for World of My Imagination weekly Wednesday blog hop, where they invite everyone to write a story using a picture and include 5 particular words in the story (false-teeth, peacock, zip, hymn, computer).  They also prefer a 500 word limit, but I have this habit of letting a story run away with its words and it only stopped to catch it’s breath when it hit 1500.  I decided to post it on this blog anyway.  

The photo of the house at the top is an old home I pass each day too and from work.  It’s been for sale for several months now.  The house never ceases to catch my attention each time I walk past and I wonder what stories it holds.  My friend David is a Chinese property agent here in Melbourne.  Although he primarily deals with rental properties, he told me a story once about the challenges he had renting out a property after someone committed suicide in it.  I saw the second photo on World of My Imagination’s blog as I passed this house today with it’s bright yellow for-sale sign and I thought it would be fun to write a story this week about this old house.  

Disclaimer – as I do not want to discourage any potential buyer from buying this house, I would like to reiterate the fact that this story is 100% fiction.

Lost

http://www.flickr.com/photos/saranv/3579803295/

Ryan’s grandfather had suddenly died at work, just a year before he was supposed to retire.  Heart attack, the coroner would later say in a polite phone call to his mother.  Unable to cope with a grieving family which smothered him in teary embraces, or his own overwhelming sense of loss, he had run away 24 hours later.  So upset were his parents they never noticed him digging out the small tent and a sleeping bag from the storage closet, or packing his spiderman backpack full of bread, cheese, biscuits, a waterbottle, and his Legend of Zelda comic book his grandad gave him for his last birthday.

He tiptoed out the backdoor, and crossed the yard to the back gate.  The laundry was still hanging on the clothes line from the day before, sodden from a light mid morning sprinkle and forgotten.  He made his exit while a neighbor consoled his teary mother, and his father sat alone in the sitting room nursing a strong drink, a Patsy Cline CD lulling him further into a grieving stupor.

Ryan knew these woods well that lined the edge of town, only a few blocks beyond his home.  They were filled with thick eucalypt and ferns.  He’d spent a great many weekends exploring or camping in them with his grandad when the threat of bushfire was low, or playing with his friends during long summer days.  Although he started out wondering along a familiar well known trail,  so caught up in thoughts was he that he wondered off the trail and eventually found himself lost.

Before the sun went down he found a clearing.  Remembering what his grandad had taught him, he carefully set to the task of digging out the rocks so that the surface below was flat and relatively smooth to pitch the tent on top of.  He lay out the sleeping bag and crawled inside for warmth.  He began to doze as the sun settled for the night and the moon began to rise, but the buzzing of a flea,  followed by the scurrying of little animals outside, the cracking of nearby branches, and the hissing of a possum in the opposite direction alerted his senses, woke him up like coffee, and prevented him from getting any further sleep that night.   The woods were alot scarier without grandad and he missed him more than ever.

Finally when the skies showed hints of light in the horizon,  and all had gone quiet, an overfull bladder pushed him out into the damp air in thankful relief.  Everything was covered in a thick layer of dense greyish white fog, like snow sticking to the air.  Even the morning birds seemed lost in the fog as they too barely muttered a peep.  He walked in a straight line until he found a tree to pee under, but the snapping of a branch nearby as he was finishing up caused him to turn suddenly, take a few steps, look around, and forget which direction he had come in.   He only figured this out when another rustling sound, closer this time caused him to bolt back in the direction he thought he had come in, only he didn’t end up at his tent.

He wondered through the thick icy fog, shivering with regret, tripping over tree roots and barely dodging trees, and as the fog began to slowly dissipate he began to cry.  He cried big fat drops which ran down his cheeks and landed on the muddy earth below.  It was as if the fog had consumed him, for every piece of him felt cold, damp, grey, empty, and lost in nothingness, and he cried for what was now gone.

He cried until the tears ran dry and there was nothing left.  He lay down on the ground, lifeless and numb, cheek pressed into mud.  “I’ll miss you grandpa”  he whispered.  He closed his exhausted eyes and willed himself to sleep.

This is a slightly altered snippet of a longer story I am currently writing.  It’s a story about grief, loss and finding a re connection within it, a topic I have been exploring recently.   I altered it so I could post it on World of My Imagination, for the weekly Wednesday short story blog hop.  The topic this week is the picture above, and the five words found in this story: task, digging, flea, price, legend.  I had to get a bit creative to fit those words in (Legend of Zelda comic book?  Seriously who reads that nowadays?).  Click here to read the other entries for this week.  

It’s been 6 weeks…

It’s been a tough 6 weeks.  It’s hard to believe it’s even been 6 weeks, it feels more like 6 months have passed.  I hardly remember April, Easter with Sam’s family, or the big events I helped plan at work in March.  I barely remember the summer days when the sun was up before I was.

I feel like I’m a lagging computer whose hard drives are filled to the max. I wish an extra stick of ram, or transferring some files off onto an external hard drive could do the trick. Since I’m human instead of machine thus requiring extra processing time, it’s taking me longer than usual to respond to things. I simply am not working at maximum efficiency. Perhaps a  re-boot would help.

Most days people ask me how I am.  I respond with a chirpy “I’m good!”  Because in reality, I’m doing alot better than a few others in my life, and I can’t help but compare.  But people are misinterpreting my “I’m good.”  I suppose I am too.  Yes, compared to my Mother, and quite possibly even my siblings, I am actually doing good.  But I suppose compared to some whose life is filled with joy and bliss, my life is a bit blah, for lack of a better word.

On May 6th, the day of the supermoon, I walked along the beach near Mermaid Waters QLD.  Life felt so peaceful, yet I knew it was about to change.  That was the day my dad died suddenly in Canada.  The news came with the rising moon into the clear night sky.  A whirlwind of flights and emotions later, I found myself back in Canada comforting my mother and helping my family to plan my dad’s funeral.

6 weeks later I am back to routine life in Australia, except it’s not the same.    I’m trying my hardest not to get overwhelmed.  Work is somewhat busy, I’m trying to plan a wedding, I’m spending my Saturday’s at house inspections as we are looking for a house to buy, my family is grieving, especially my mother, people around me are being diagnosed with cancer, going through some major relationship stuff, or are just plain caught up in their own lives.  They can’t wait to catch up to tell me all about it.  When I gather the energy to meet up or chat with them, I sit there and I listen, and I offer all I can, but deep down inside, I’m struggling.

Everything feels too much, and yet I’m trying to tackle it all head first with all my energy.  A part of me feels it would be good for me to get out and do things like before, continue my life, yet another part of me wants to stay at home and not leave for a week, distracting myself with writing prompts and the dream world of fiction.  These two parts often clash and end up in a stalemate and not much gets done.

I tell myself, I’m a strong girl, I know alot about emotion, grief, and letting go.  I’m good at processing my emotions, and allowing myself to feel.  And yet at the same time, I am STILL processing my emotions and will be for some time.  That didn’t magically disappear when I arrived back in Australia.  I still have my moments of sadness, grief, and heart ache.  I remind myself I did just lose my father.  Death is the ultimate separation and I am feeling this one.    I’m finding it hard when those moments arise to take time for myself, because a few others around me have it so much harder, so much worse, and I need to be strong for them, help them through their pain as it’s so much greater than mine.   But the only way I’m going to work through mine is by taking time out for me, and find a balance between them and me.

It’s like what they say on the airplane.  “In case of an emergency, airbags will drop from the ceiling above.  Please ensure you put on your own airbag before assisting others.”  We can’t always be of assistance to others until we help ourselves first.

So tonight instead of helping others, I’m taking some time to help myself.  I’m writing how I feel instead of pushing it aside while I try to help others with their feelings.  I’m spending time looking at photos, feeling sad and honouring it.  I’m taking time for me.

Below is a photo of my dad.  It’s the last photo I ever took of him.  I had flown back to Canada for Christmas 5 years ago.  It had snowed and my dad said “Come on Yolanda, let’s go out and make a snowman!”  Feeling jet legged and unused to the cold I resisted, so he went out and built one for me.

The snowman

The snowman

The Magic Pen

It's worth the wait

It’s worth the wait

It was the best birthday present she could have asked for, a seemingly magical pen from a great aunt from a rather curious shop in an old alley way in the city.  For the first time in her life she didn’t have to write in code, mixing up letters and numbers in a form of jumbled nonsense that even she had difficulties interpreting later on.

All these years she had been frustrated at the lack of privacy she had endured, with each discovery of his secrets on her pages, a pillaging invasion of her inner world unfolded, the thermometer in the room would rise a couple of degrees as anger seethed heat from his pores as she stood stark still in horror while he read each word out loud, then cornered her for more as he scrunched up the precious secrets with his calloused yellow fingers then cut up the crumpled pages with dirty scissors  and threatened the same treatment to her wrists or neck next, anything to make it stop.  A volcano, that’s what she felt like, all that hot lava swishing around inside, burning, spewing, bubbling, but she was never was the erupting type.

She knew deep down anger was not the best way to deal with things, it was not the best approach, most especially with him.  She had been taught manners, and how to be polite, like all good little girls are.  So she folded her hands together, pressed her lips tight, fought back tears, and when he had exhausted himself in his cruel attempts at extracting more, she excused herself from the room.

The words flowed from the pen, so fine, the letters entering the page as if she were writing from a pin. As the letters formed the ink turned as white as the page, the camouflaged words of a chameleon, that only she could see.

The pen flew faster and faster, the secret words had grown wings of a bluebird and moved with speed and grace across the lines in her notebook and melted into the white fluffy cloud coloured paper.  She thought of flying and becoming one with the clouds, like the angels that she heard from above, but never actually saw, and only ever on cloudy days.  She heard singing from above mixed with the gentle patter of rain, and knew that they were right, it was worth the wait.

 

I took a little blog writing vacation when I went back to Canada in May, and now that I’m settled into June, and back into my Australian routined life, my creative mind came out to play.  I decided to write this little story for a linkup at World of my Imagination blog.  The prompt is the photo above, and the words to be included in the story are: manners, pin, chameleon, thermometer, birthday.