This story is completely fictional. Any resemblances to names of people and/or places is purely coincidental.
Two weeks had gone by after the closing of the house. Jake, Miri and Dave concentrated on cleaning up the main floor, especially the bedrooms so they would have someplace to sleep while preparing the place to become their second income. It being summer, Jake and Miri had plenty of time to work on the house since both had occupations in education; Miri, a third grade teacher and Jake a high school principal with a background as a high school History and Geography teacher. Dave, when not doing an odd job for someone else, focused on the Stewart house, bringing it to what it needed as a B & B. They were hoping to get it up and running in a year.
“I wonder why most of the furniture remained. You’d think someone would have removed some, if not all. Some of the pieces are beautiful antiques,” admired Miri as she was going over a Sheraton Flame Mahogany Step Back Secretary desk. There were several drawers, all locked except for one, which held the key to the other drawers. She was tempted to start unlocking each drawer to see if anything might be in them but more work had to be completed in the kitchen if she was going to make supper there that evening. She gently patted the desk, “I’ll be back.”
After the supper dishes were washed, dried, and put away, everyone retreated into the living room to get some much needed rest. It had been a very busy day. Miri was about to pick up a thriller novel about underwater adventures and espionage by one of her favorite authors when she happened to glance toward the desk. “Forget the book,” she said as she got up, took a nearby desk chair and sat down to start fumbling through the drawers. The small skeleton key still worked well and the drawers easily opened. There wasn’t much to get excited about, finding pieces of paper, stubs of pencils and a couple of fountain pens. She almost didn’t see it but in the back of one of the drawers she felt, more than saw, a cloth wrapped package tied with a ribbon. Opening the package, she found several notebooks. Upon opening the first notebook, she realized that it was most likely a diary. Looking over the other diaries, they were dated and the name Emma was on the cover of each one. She nearly felt guilty reading through the pages; going through someone’s private thoughts put down on paper. She giggled, feeling silly about those thoughts since the author of this diary was long gone.
An hour later there was a voice calling out to Miri, “Hey, you going to put that down and come to bed?” Jake said. “It’s been a long day. What’s so interesting?”
Her husband’s voice brought her back to the present, “I think I found someone’s diary in the back of one of these drawers. It has to be the wife by the dates on the pages and what is written. If she’s the one who wrote these diaries, her name was Emma. She talks about the house progressing and that the upstairs is nearly done. She wrote that it’s a good thing, too, because their child is due in another few weeks. I’ve been trying to make a mental picture of this woman in this grand house, expecting their first child. Jake, did you ever find out who actually had this house built and lived here?”
“I asked the realtor and he thought the name was something like Hodges, but wasn’t sure. Next time I go into town I can ask around, or better yet, go to the historical society and see if I can find something about the history of the town and there just might be something about this place. Now let’s go to bed.”
Miri hesitantly rewrapped the diaries and put them back in the drawer. “Good night. I’ll be back.”
“Please come back real soon to read the diary. it’s the only way you’ll understand this house and I’m so lonely. Please!”
Miri woke up with a start, enough to wake up her husband. “What is it?”
“Didn’t you hear that?”
“Hear what?” asked Jake
“Someone talking, I think from the living room.”
“Unless it’s Dave up and about talking to himself, there’s no one else. I’ll go check.”
Miri followed Jake through the house. Dave’s bedroom door was closed and there wasn’t anyone else in any of the rooms, which Jake knew there wouldn’t be. “It must have been a dream. What did the ‘voice’ say?”
“I don’t remember but it seemed urgent. It must have been a dream.” They both went back to bed but Miri barely slept.
Miri was already up and reading the diary when Jake and Dave came into the kitchen for breakfast.
“Is that thing that interesting?” Said Dave pointing to the diary.
“It is very interesting.” answered Miri. “The woman talks about her young son and how he and she were often left alone when her husband went away on business trips or big game hunts. This page talks about him going to India. Apparently, there were many ‘trophies’ of his hunting trips around the house.”
“I’m glad all of the stuffed animals that were supposedly in this house were removed before we bought it. Those would have given me the creeps,” said Jake. Miri nodded in agreement.
“Dave and I will be going into town to pick up some supplies we’ll need to start making the bathrooms in each of the rooms. While in town I’ll go to the historical society to see what I can find out about this place and the original family.”
“I’ll keep working in the kitchen and bathroom,” said Miri. “I’d like to do a little more exploring of this house if you don’t mind. We really haven’t gone through each room to see what we can, or should, keep as far as the antique furniture is concerned. Maybe starting with the attic and working our way down? I wonder if there are more surprises in any other pieces of furniture left in the house.”
“Maybe we’ll find skeletons in the closets,” laughed Dave. “Oh yeah, there are no closets, only armoires. I can’t believe that closets were not built in because houses tended to be taxed according to the number of rooms they contained, and for tax purposes, a closet counted as a room. That’s so crazy. The people who built this house were rich so you would think that they could have afforded paying those extra taxes. Will you want me to build closets in the upstairs rooms like I am for the main floor bedrooms?”
“Why don’t we wait to see what condition those armoires are in and I bet ghosts can live in those too. Hey! If ghosts can walk through walls, why don’t they fall through floors?” jested Jake. Miri gave him “that look”, again, that one that all men were born to understand. “Ok, ok, either way, it sounds like a great idea. We all could use a break. Let’s start with the attic tomorrow.”
While the weather was good, Miri took her breaks on the front porch, breathing in the fresh air while she continued perusing the pages of the diaries. She had just come upon the part where Emma’s husband had returned from a trip to India where he had been hunting tigers. He was injured by one which he did manage to kill. He died several weeks later from complications of those injuries.
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