The Haunting

Lalitha Ramanathan posted under Flash Fiction QuinTale-33 on 2021-09-07

It was Sunday morning. Melissa looked fearfully at her husband, Alfred. A prospective buyer was coming to inspect their countryside house, at the insistence of their son. “Sweetheart, don’t worry. I will drop dead before anyone uproots us from our home of the past seventy years!” Alfred assured her. *** The buyers arrived. They were a family; a tall man, a frail woman, and two children.  “Will you show us around?” the man asked gruffly. “Sure. While I do that, children, do you want to see the treehouse?” inquired Alfred. “Treehouse?” their eyes brightened. Patrick and his sister Olivia sped out.  Nestled amongst the branches of a giant tree was a treehouse. The children climbed up the rope ladder with uncontained excitement. Patrick flung open the door. The wooden floor creaked under his footsteps. Olivia followed. The sunbeams cast patterns on the ground. The windows showcased the stunning countryside vistas. They stood transfixed. That’s when someone stepped out of the shadows. “Hi, I’m Anabel.” Patrick was alarmed, and Olivia screamed. A pretty little girl with blue eyes and golden hair stood in front of them. “Sorry, I startled you. Do you want to play?” “Do you live here?” Patrick asked Anabel. “Yes, I do. Let’s have a tea party! I have a tea-set here.” The children played until they heard their parents yell for them. They bid a reluctant goodbye to Anabel and made their way back to the house. “Children, did you have a good time?” “Yes. The treehouse was great! So was Anabel.” “Anabel, who?”  “A girl with blonde hair? She says she lives here.” “But Anabel....” began Melissa. “There is no one of that name here!” interrupted Alfred. “Strange.” “Years ago, I bought this house from someone. Apparently, his young daughter fell from the treehouse, broke her neck, and died. They have been sightings of her, but I had never believed them.”  “Her name was… Anabel!” Alfred added, after a dramatic pause. The woman shrieked and reached for her smelling salts. “Let me inspect the treehouse,” declared the man. He made his way up there, along with Alfred. The crockery on the floor was evidence of the tea party. There was no trace of Anabel. They alighted, feeling flummoxed. The man spotted a gravestone by the corner. On it was inscribed: Here lies Anabel. Loved and adored. Gone too soon. “Is that…..?” Alfred nodded sombrely. The man bundled his family into their car and sped off at light speed.  Later, Melissa looked at her husband questioningly. He just shrugged.  “Countryside-hauntings. Not uncommon.” *** Alfred walked up to the treehouse and whistled. From the bushes emerged a little blonde girl. “Rachel, here is candy. You did great!” “Uncle Al, can you take me home now?” Rachel was his best friend Joe’s granddaughter. He hoisted her on his shoulder.  As they made their way out, Alfred tipped his hat by Anabel’s gravestone. She had been such a loving cat. Too bad she was gone too soon.   Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!