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No one in the small, quiet town knows exactly what goes on in Lake House. There have been the rumors, of course, but know one knows for certain what lies behind the black iron gates and the large carved doors that mark the entrance to the grand house. Even the mail carrier has never had a glimpse of the face that receives the mail. All letters and packages are simply addressed: Lake House, 7 Willow Street, Southland, RI. The letter carrier is usually very good at using clues from his deliveries to learn more about the recipients. But when it comes to Lake House, he is stumped.
Rumors about the house have been whispered over tables at the local diner, behind pews at church and on metal bleachers at the Little League baseball games. Some of the stories tell about a ghost who lives inside the house and causes the curtains to move, bizarre lights to shine through the window, and eerie noises to stir. The townspeople with wilder imaginations claim to have seen the ghost itself, a dark shadow of varying sizes and shapes. People say that if you listen closely, you can hear people’s voices from inside the home. The more practical rumor spreaders, who don’t believe in ghosts at all, think that there must be a more worldly explanation. They argue that it must be a human that lives inside the house and hiding their face to help maintain the mystery.
Part of what makes the Lake House so difficult to understand is its perfect appearance. The lawn is a rich green that is always mowed perfectly and bright colored flowers bloom all spring and summer. It would be any family’s dream home. From the number of windows with silky, patterned curtains, one can tell that the house has plenty of rooms. If the size of the home wasn’t enough, the house also had plenty of mature trees which would be perfect places to hang rope swings, plenty of places for kids to call their own personal hide out, and a huge front porch where a family could sit to enjoy a glass of iced tea during the day and watch the stars at night. Even the oldest residents of Southland don’t know when Lake House was built. They know that it was there for their whole lives and through the lives of their parents, always perfectly taken care of but never with a sign of any resident.
It’s not as though no one ever tried to meet the people (or ghosts) who live in Lake House. The house is often visited. Solicitors drop by, and carolers visit the house around the holiday season. Census takers try to get someone to answer the door and pranksters run up the stairs to the front porch to play a quick game of ding-dong ditch or to spray the gate with silly string on Halloween night. Being four times larger than the other houses in the neighborhood, Lake House stood out. The town was modest in size and also in what the people wanted for their town. They wanted a good school for their children, clean streets to walk and local shops where they could purchase necessary items and good neighbors. Even though mystery and rumors surrounded Lake House the fact is that the house was a good neighbor.
On a cheery, spring morning, rookie painter Sam White receives a phone call from a man he believes is a realtor regarding a house in need of painting. The house is far away in a town about 65 miles away, however, Sam is in need of a job and doesn’t care. Sam dropped out of school when he was 16. After regretting that decision he knew that he needed a job. He thought it would be easy to be a house painter. The last few years have been tough for him. After losing his family in a car wreck, and almost dying in a fire himself, he is economically in trouble. He needs to come up with money, and quick. That’s why Sam readily agrees to the job, even though it is nearly two hours away by car. Sam was never trained to paint and is a little apprehensive about taking on a job all by himself so he hopes that the house is small and only takes a few days to finish.
Sam hates his job and he is not secretive about it. When he was younger, he never pictured himself working outside at a trade like painting. The really surprising thing about Sam’s current occupation is that he is deathly afraid of heights. Even being on a one foot high step stool freaks him out a little. He never feels safe until his feet are planted firmly on the ground. Maybe it is because of his displeasure with his job or maybe it is because of the loss of his family but either way, Sam isn’t the friendliest man around. He yells at little kids, he throws his trash in the middle of the street, and he leaves a trail of spit-soaked sunflower seeds almost everywhere he goes. Sam seems to have cut himself off from most of the world and he won’t help or talk to people no matter how desperate they are. He doesn’t even communicate with the remaining members of his family and he doesn’t have any friends left in town. The only thing that keeps him company is his faithful, old golden retriever and lately, Sam pays less and less attention to him.
On the first day of the Southland painting job, Sam arrives eager to get to work. The house is nothing that he thought it would be. Its size alone is impressive and he is surprised by how incredibly well taken care of it is. Sam sets about getting to work immediately, leaning his ladder against the gutter. He wants to stay as close to the ground as possible, this early in the day. By noon, the sun is beating straight down on him and it makes him remember just how much he hates his job. He spills paint on himself several times and becomes very frustrated. He knows that now is a good time for a break and finding a shady spot under a large tree, he out his peanut butter and jelly sandwich and eats like he had never seen food before. Now, he is ready to face the afternoon of work. Sam repeats this same pattern for two more days and as he returns, the fourth day, he knows that it is time to face his biggest fear, the top of the house.
After a quick set up that morning, Sam is ready to finish the very top of the house, the part that he has been dreading the whole time. Sam leans his incredibly long ladder against the house. He starts slowly climbing up that ladder, keeping focused on the top and trying not to look down. Just a few more cautious steps until the top, Sam thinks. As he arrives on the roof, he heads toward the chimney with his bucket of brown paint. The paint can banged against his pant leg and as Sam instinctively went to rub his leg, paint sloshed into a puddle at his feet. “Great,” he thought, “Just great.” He took a quick step backwards to look at the damage and felt himself lose his footing. But before he knew what was happening he was sucked down the chimney.
The Girl Scout
On a chilly, fall afternoon a 10-year-old Girl Scout named Anna sets out to sell cookies. Having been a Girl Scout since Kindergarten and now being in the Fourth Grade, she is considered a long time expert of cookie selling. Anna has many very close friends, not just in her Girl Scout Troop 129 but also at school and at church. She can make friends in less than two minutes because she is a real people person. Although she is short for her age, she is very mature and she can easily carry on a conversation with people much older than she. Being very focused, Anna set a goal to sell the most boxes of cookies in her troop. So far she is reaching her goal.
Earlier that morning Anna was making plans for her afternoon sales trip. She tried to invite her friends from her troop to join her, but they already had different plans for their afternoon doing foolish things like playing with friends. Anna had already sold cookies throughout her neighborhood and in the surrounding neighborhoods and she needed to find a new territory. She got out a local bus schedule and mapped out a route to a nearby town. She was sure that she could sell a lot there.
Stepping off of the bus, Anna was sure that she made a good decision and she starts ringing door bells right away. She was being her usual charming self and it was paying off because most of the homes were buying at least 2 boxes. She rounds a corner and spies a huge house. “Wow” She thinks “These people must be very rich. I bet they will buy boxes and boxes of cookies.” She sprints up to the door; tripping several times on the long walk way. She anxiously rings the door bell, but sadly no one is home. She rings it several more times, not willing to give up but each time there was no answer. Anna swears someone was home because she could hear faint voices. “Maybe they’re in the shower” she thinks and she quickly runs around to the back of the house looking to see if anyone is there. It is getting very late and the sun is fading fast. Anna knows if she doesn’t want to get into trouble, she needs to get home very soon. She rings the door bell one more time. But this time was different. Just after her finger touches the button, the large door opens and she is pulled inside.
Dan King is an old man, almost 70 years old, but he is sure he has a lot of life left because he is finally running for Governor. He worked all his life for this and he is not going to lose the election. Before he even got to college, Dan knew what he wanted to do with his life and that was to serve the people and his country by being in office. That’s why he went to one of the best schools in the country. He started off small by running for City Council and winning and after that he was elected Mayor of his small town. Dan always wanted something more and becoming Governor of the state is exactly the right job for him.
Dan is has a very busy life outside of politics and he thinks that being with his family is the most fulfilling way to spend his free time. He and his wife Janet have four children who are all in their early thirties, and eight Grandchildren, all except one are under the age of ten. His family supports him in whatever he does. Whether he is giving an important speech, playing croquet or cooking a large meal they are always proud of him. He announced that this would be his last time to run for office. Even though his body is starting to wear out on the outside, it was young and intelligent on the inside.
Dan is very hands-on and decides to go and meet the people by taking fliers door to door to talk to the people and thank everyone for voting for him. He tries not to let his age get in the way of his dream job but unfortunately his body is way to out of shape and he aches with every step. After visiting most of the houses in the city he makes his way toward Southland. That is the only part of the state he hasn’t visited yet. He has heard about Southland countless times but he has never been there himself. After meeting some of the residents, he loves Southland. It makes him feel like the people appreciate him much more than they do in his wealthier neighborhood. These people seem happy with what they have. After a while a large, grand house catches his eye. It reminds him of his own house. “If I don’t win the election” he thought “Maybe I could move here and be a part of this wonderful little town” Dan wearily approaches the door. He just has to see if this house is for sale. As he steps up on the porch and heads to the door bell he looks back for a second to see what is making a mysterious noise he hears. It is too late. Dan has been sucked into the house.
The UPS Woman
Kristen wanted this job for two reasons, to see new people and places and to work alone. It is a fairly easy job. Driving around from location to location, delivering packages is calming and interesting. Kristen enjoys the long drives by herself and each day brings something new. It gives her time to think and time away from the worries of her life. Nothing ever came easy for her growing up and until recently it looked like her luck was never going to change. Kristen always took care of herself ever since she was a little girl growing up in Southern Missouri. Her mother wasn’t around and her father was a terrible drunk. As soon as she could, she left Missouri and moved north to start a new life.
She never thought that she would fall in love with someone, but she did. Three months ago, Kristen and her husband Richard got married and he was a really good guy. Richard found a job, and they will be moving out of state into a nice two bedroom apartment. Kristen at first was a little disappointed when she found out that she had to quit her job, but she realizes that it will be best for her and her husband and their new life together.
On her last day of work, it seems like every other day. She goes to pick up her packages and her truck. Her radio is cranked to her favorite station and she is on her way. As the day grows late, she begins to realize how much easier her life would be without trying to manage a job. All the houses that she has packages for were fairly close to each other, except for one that is all the way in Southland. She doesn’t go to Southland that often, and she barely knows anything about it. She has delivered most of her packages and is on her way to Southland. By the time she arrives in Southland it is late. It is almost pitch black outside. The package is addressed to a big, beautiful house in the middle of town. She gets out of her car to deliver the package. But before she makes it up to the front door, she was somewhere inside the house and her package lay on the ground.
From the first look at it you may wonder if something sinister was happening to people who get too near to Lake House. Was the home using them for something? Was it really the ghosts who took the people? A quick look at the Lake House answers many of these questions. Inside the house there are no rats or cobwebs. The interior is just as well taken care of as the exterior. A nice, warm fire glows in the cold months and a refreshing fan blows in the hot months. There is the smell of freshly baked cookies and something refreshing to drink is always waiting on a small, wood table. If you are lucky, on a day when the house sucked in a guest, you could see one of these people enjoying a nice snack as they wait to be released and go on their way.
What the guests avoided outside the house while they enjoyed themselves inside, tells the rest of the story of Lake House. The painter would have surely died if he had fallen from that height as his foot slipped on the spilled paint. Just moments after the Girl Scout entered the home a car full of drunken teens left from a house right around the corner from Lake House. The young girl would have been the perfect target for that car as it ran right through the stop sign. The politician’s body was frail and he was getting tired. There is no way he could have made it back to his car before the blizzard. When the UPS woman finally left the home she discovered the burned metal of the truck she was driving. Surely, the bomb hidden in one of the packages she still hadn’t delivered would have killed her. In a small town that values simple things like Sunday picnics and good neighbors, Lake House was the best kept secret.