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.
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.