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Fiction: The House That Never Was
The House That Never Was
Words by Chris Bedell
Image by Deniz Ataman
“So do you know who you’re going to homecoming with?” I asked, turning my head to face Derek while we shuffled down the street.
“I was actually hoping to go with you.”
I snorted. “Oh. I didn’t realize that. I’m actually going with Stefan.”
“Is it because I’m not popular?”
“No. Of course not.”
We plowed down the next street, passing by The Red House.
You know that house.
Every town has one house that people are convinced is haunted. Except in Clarkswood, the house was actually haunted, as nobody had allegedly lived there in over a decade, making it the house that never was.
I should have driven to school like 90 percent of my fellow seniors, but my parents planned on using their money for my college expenses, not a car. Although it could’ve been worse since Derek and I lived less than 1.5 miles from the school.
“I hope you aren’t mad,” I said.
“No. Of course not. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.”
I averted my gaze, choosing to glance at a bird zipping through the sky. “I understand.”
He came to an immediate halt. “Don’t tell me you understand Emma! You’re the one that practiced kissing with me in addition to making suggestive comments, not me. It’s not like I wanted to have a crush on my best friend.”
That was an interesting word to describe my dynamic with Derek because it was true even if I didn’t want to admit it out loud.
The wind whistled in the background, slapping me right in the face, which reminded me that the crisp scent of fall was in the air.
I bit my lip. “Look, I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong idea. That wasn’t my intention.”
“Could you please stop lying to me? We both know what you did. You used me to boost your ego and kept me around as a backup even though you never had any intention of reciprocating.”
“It’s not my fault I don’t like you as more than a friend.”
“You just can’t take responsibility for your actions, can you?”
“I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal out of everything. I enjoy being your friend.” I extended my arm, cupping his chin.
He shoved my hand away. “God, you’re doing it again! You’re trying to be flirtatious to get what you want.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say.” I tugged at the straps of my backpack, pulling tighter.
“You know what? I’m done!”
“You heard me,” he said.
“It’s not like you have any other friends at school.”
“That doesn’t matter. I’d rather have no friends than be friends with you.”
“You don’t mean that.”
He sneered, revealing flared nostrils. “Yes. I do because I bet you never even saw me as a friend in the first place.”
“That’s not true and you know it.”
I walked down my neighborhood street the night of homecoming since I didn’t have anything better to do.
“I thought you were going to homecoming with Stefan,” called out a voice.
I turned around, noticing Derek sitting down on the sidewalk.
I exhaled a long breath. “Stefan changed his mind and decided to go with someone else.”
I forced a polite expression. “I’ve been feeling awful about our fight the other day…”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“You’re parents are arguing again, aren’t they?” I tucked a lock of hair behind my ear.
“What do you think?”
“You didn’t just answer a question with another question, did you?”
He rubbed both of his eyes. “Anyway, I should get going.”
“What’s the rush? We could hang out and use my fake ID to get some alcohol.”
Derek got up from the ground, brushing the dust off him. “No offense or anything, but I don’t want to be your second choice.”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” I said.
“Of course you did.”
A grin twisted across my mouth. “I have a better idea. Why don’t we go to The Red House?”
“Are you kidding me?”
I nudged his elbow in a playful fashion. “What’s the matter? Are you scared?”
“No. I just have better things to do on a Friday night.”
I rolled my eyes. “Yeah right. You’re just being a coward.”
“I’m the one that told you I liked you as more than a friend,” Derek said.
I couldn’t disagree with him, as he had a point even if I didn’t want to admit it.
He dug his foot into the ground and sprinted down the street before I slashed after him, catching up in no time.
We flocked into the living room after stepping foot into The Red House.
The dust collecting from all of the books on the bookcase almost made me yell. Yeah, this place had been vacated for more than ten years…
He shoved his hands into his jacket pockets. “What is this place?”
I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
“We should get out of here.”
I scanned the wall and gasped at the portrait of a man with a salt and pepper mustache. “I agree.”
The door locked shut before we could get out.
Derek screamed. “What the hell!”
“Let’s climb out a window.”
It was too late!
The windows dissolved, causing the outside view to disappear while something howled in the night, making cracklings of fire engulf everywhere besides where we were standing.
I squeezed his hand. “I want you to know it wasn’t all a game with you.”
The both of us craned our heads, realizing we were no longer in the house, as we were now surrounded by white.
But at least we had each other even if The Red House really was the house that never was.
#Unreal #Fiction #House #Haunted #Love #Relationships #Youth
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