Short, short Story. Long results (the NPR contest)

Short, short Story. Lasting results/three Endings

Everyone always said the house was haunted.


She’d been sitting there an hour

Rising from the curb across the street, she tossed away the cigarette and strode right up to the Creole mansion, its pillars supporting growth and bloom like huge tomato cages.

Vines encompassing the front porch pillars urged them inwards, creating a screen of blossoms. With hands in front of her she parted these, judged the distance between rotted boards, and stepped across. The front door had been stolen. The wide floorboards inside were solid.

She strode determinedly forward, her body deliberate in its motion, her mind unfocused as to intention. The woman was impelled by the feverish impulse to be somewhere besides in her own life

Sick of mothering, sick of wifery, overwhelmed by many-footed-house pets, she was au but de l’essence, out of fuel. Dazed by growing piles of laundry, she’d had no more where withal to put toward scheduling, arranging or wiping; nothing in her  -body or soul- could any longer commit to being the one who would always be accessible

She had left the house mid-morning, finally alone.

Misery impelled her up the stairs of the dangerous house. Upward, beyond prudence she took a step and took a step, in purblind cadence …up to something, up to something…

 On the landing she stopped.  All the doors were ajar. Old sunshine outlining leaves filigreed the walls of the hallway.  Her own shuffling feet stirred flights of antique bug lint, tiny particles of an ancient epoch’s detritus….

This travel towards the unknown had already saved her; she was already someone else–even before–

Something touched her.

Before she could react with surprise, she had accepted. She did not turn her head to look, but closed her eyes.

It seemed fitting, the caress along her neck. 

  A warm hand encircled her ankle—then let go! A supporting current of air ruffled her skirt, then wreathed her waist.  At once she felt lighter, elated. For a long minute she couldn’t move; she didn’t want to…why go anywhere else?  So, she waited, wholly supported by this current of uplifting calm.

 The nurturing atmosphere, nascent of change, next bore on the air an inchoate Sound…. notes floated. A thin tune seemed to invite her. 

She acquiesced… was led by the hand and then, she was spun through afternoon sunbeams,

waltzed along galleries, dipped, held closer…

–Now more firmly embraced, she became dizzy, started to feel sick. Then, befitting her surrounds –she fainted.  

As she lay on the floor in a room she had never seen, a breath on her ear awoke her, then withdrew.

 She was alone again, but comforted by the memory of a

faint, familiar melody, soothing and languorous.

   *She did not return to her life as it had been before entering the house.  For a long time she did not return to  her family. When she did she was different.  

**She never was herself again after that time in the house. She left America, and found great success working with dolphins at a small resort zoo in the islands.  She became more beautiful and found happiness  — albeit lapsing from time to time into somewhat risqué` behaviors. 

***In due time she was delivered of twins: pale, unearthly, neither of  whom would ever speak a word.

****She  found work she liked, as librarian for a cruise line.  She sailed, after that, in and out of ports all over the world. At night she slept in her own little bunk beside the stacks, tucked near the center of the hold.            

  So you could say the house had changed things for her. You could say that

 from that day things had never been the same!

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