The House on Winthrop Ave

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Wil sat crouched in the corner bedroom on the second floor of 224 Winthrop Avenue in Shiloh, Pennsylvania. It was said a woman by the name of Eleanor Gray was murdered in the home by her husband, Charles Gray in the early 1900’s. Now of course the rumor was that the house was haunted. Folks would say Eleanor could be seen passing by the windows at night seeking revenge on the man whom she loved so much only to be betrayed. If you stood outside the home long enough, it was said you’d hear Eleanor’s screams turn to tears.

Wil rocked back and forth amazed he’d made it this far. The rest of the boys waited outside on their bicycles certain he’d come out at any moment. But when you’ve been pushed, poked, and prodded, bullied relentlessly by boys bound to browbeat you at risk of broken bones and burn, horrible, horrible burn; you don’t chicken out. The bullies dared him to spend a night in the house and Wil intended to do just that. “But how did he get to the second floor?” You might be asking. The house you see, liked to play tricks.

Wil entered the house shortly before midnight, “Whimp, you won’t do it!” One of the lads called behind him. Wil pushed up his round glasses and shut the door behind him. He intended to sit there all night with his back against the door. He would sit there all night, and when he came out, he would have the boys respect. He would sit there all night. He might even doze off. This notion seemed funny to him now crouched on the second floor. Because as he sat with his back to the door after entering the house this plan would be changed with a knock at the door.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Perhaps the boys felt bad, or maybe they wanted to see for themselves what lie beyond the walls at 224 Winthrop. Wil jumped up eagerly opening the door. But it wasn’t the boys, in fact the boys didn’t appear to be anywhere in sight. Much to Wil’s confusion even the streetlights that were just moments ago gently touching the window frames of the house had disappeared. There was a man at the door, dressed in a nice suit as though he were just returning from business. He walked right through Wil as if he weren’t even there. “Darling?” He said. Wil turned and watched as the man walked down a hallway leading to the kitchen. Candles flickered on the walls and in the chandelier above him. “Darling, where are you?” You see Charles loved his wife dearly, but she had grown... well... off in recent days. Wil felt his breath leave his body when a woman in a black dress emerged from the shadows of one of the rooms on the corridor and followed the man down the hall. “Darling, there you are!” Charles exclaimed. “My goodness you’re beautiful. What... what’s that dear?” Wil covered his eyes and ears, his back pressed again against the door. “Give it here, dear. Its okay. We’ll... we’ll get the doctor. We’ll get the doctor, and everything will be alright. Just put down the... NO! NO!” Wil kept his ears covered but he heard thudding and a struggle. And then of course the scream, the scream was deafening.

Wil opened his eyes and the woman in the black dress now stood erect in the hallway, dead and covered in her own blood. Like springs exploding, Wil leapt from the ground and darted up the stairs, Charles cries from the kitchen faded as he reached the bedroom on the second floor. It seemed to be now again. Whatever trick the house had been playing seemed to be over. He inched, crawling on his hands and knees toward the door. He thought he could make a run for the front door. Like punching a wall though, fear kept seeming to bloody his knuckles and stop him from running. The tip of his finger poked into the hallway and he was back to before again. It seemed like before Eleanor was murdered, or as Wil had come to discover before she had died by suicide. Wil could hear music coming from down the hall.

Wil tip-toed down the hall, the floors creaking as he went. An old jazzy song flowed out of what appeared to be the master bedroom. Wil reached the doorway and saw the man and the woman dancing together. They seemed so happy. A happy that a boy of only ten years old can only attempt to understand. Love pouring from one into the other as they danced. Wil’s blood turned to ice as the woman shrieked when she looked up and saw him. “Dear? What is it?”

“There’s a boy! A boy in the hallway.” Eleanor exclaimed. Wil stood frozen. Both Charles and Eleanor looked right at him.

“Darling, there’s no one there.” Charles said calmly. Eleanor stepped away from her husband and walked hastily towards Wil. Wil ran down the hallway and hid in the corner of the next room. There was a desk and for a moment it was now and then it wasn’t again. Charles was sitting at the desk and beside the desk was a cot. Eleanor was sitting on the cot and a man who appeared to be a doctor was holding a stethoscope up to her back. “You say you’re seeing people Mrs. Gray. You say you see them all the time in this house?” The doctor said.

“I see boys dressed in clothes that I’ve never seen before and I see people, men and women who appear to be dressed from some time long ago. I see myself even. I see myself and I...” She trailed off.

“Mrs. Gray?”

“I’m carrying a knife and I’m following Charles down the hallway toward the kitchen.”

“You know Mrs. Gray, I think you’re under a lot of stress, perhaps a bit of rest will do you some good. Mr. Gray if you could join me on my way out.” Wil repositioned his glasses on his nose and as the two walked out Eleanor turned to him hiding in the corner.

“Why are you here? Why are you and other’s always here!” She was exhausted and angry. Wil ran out of the room. This had been scary enough, he had to get out of here. He raced for the stairs, but his body was moving much faster than his legs and he tripped head-first down the stairs, and everything went dark.

“Up you go lad, eh just a bit of bruise you’ll be alright. How many fingers am I holdin up?” Charles said. Was it Charles? What the heck is going on? Wil sat up and made out four blurry fingers as he came to. “Four?”

“Four. That’s right lad, we ought to have a prize for you.” Charles turned and standing behind him was Eleanor.

“When is it?” Asked Wil.

“Well I’m guessing its now, and I’m guessing those lads out there are waiting for you because they dared ya to come in here?” Charles said with a smirk. Wil looked out the window and saw the boys all still on their bikes. “Gets a bit confusing in here doesn’t it, lad?” He helped Wil to his feet. “You see this house likes to play some tricks with time.”

“I know better than most.” Said Eleanor behind him, handing Wil his glasses. Wil had been too scared before to notice how beautiful she was, her hair was curled elegantly laying gently against her bosom in a red dress.

“You... You didn’t die here.” Wil said to Charles.

“Aye. But I was buried here. Eleanor here made it clear in her will that the two of us would be buried out back in the cemetery together.”

Wil squinted up through his glasses, “how come you could see other times?” Wil asked Eleanor.

Eleanor knelt down beside him, “The same reason that you could see different times here. We’re special.”

“You ought to go back to your friend’s lad. They’re waitin for you.”

Wil looked down sadly. “They aren’t my friends. They’re mean to me.”

Charles chuckled. “It’s almost mornin lad. They came back for you. I don’t believe bullies come back to make sure their victims are okay.”

“Just be brave with them. The way you were brave coming in here.” Eleanor said.

Wil opened the front door and walked towards the boys who couldn’t ask him enough questions. “Did you see her? Were there ghosts? Are you a ghost now too?” The questions flew one after another. The darkness of the early morning was soothed by the rising sun warming the house as Wil watched Eleanor and Charles fade in the doorway.

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