It’s happening again. This time it’s a full moon and a fallen book, and it’s worse than usual. Mum has been in the pantry for days. She only comes out for more soda tabs. I think she’s weaving them again. I don’t know if it’s meant to be an offering or if she’s lost again.
It can be difficult living in a sentient house with anger issues and OCD worse than my own. My father left years ago. I’ve tried to get my mother to leave, but she loves the place. Or that’s what I have to conclude. Otherwise darker reasons occur to me and the house starts to get possessive. It once stole my bedroom for a month because I attempted to convince my mother to leave. When I said that she wasn’t safe here, it wouldn’t let me turn a single appliance on and locked every door on me for a fortnight.
There are advantages to living in a place like this. No one ever tries to get in, mainly because they don’t believe we exist. Perhaps they are right at times. I don’t remember anything from when I was eleven. Despite this, we are never alone. The house is always there.
The house has a name. No one knows where it came from. No one remembers learning it. It simply is Teach Liath. Liath is a fickle creature, much like a toddler in its ways. It will throw temper tantrums when things aren’t as it likes, although the difference in a temper tantrum thrown by a four story supernatural house and that thrown by a two foot tall human with very little motor control is vast. For one, it tends to be infinitely more destructive, and secondly, it is entirely impossible to ignore it until it calms down.
Now I’m in the kitchen, attempting to get the stove working again. I hear something heavy fall off one of the precariously stacked shelves upstairs. Crap. That sounded like it could be the Edgar Allen Poe bust.
Liath had seemed moody already; to be expected. It is a full moon tonight and full moons always put it in a foul mood. These small upsets in the precise chaos of the place push Liath over the edge. A bone chilling wail sweeps through the foundations and up the walls, a storm in the making. The house trembles. A whirlwind catches my hair and spins haphazardly stacked papers across the room. The lights go out with a resounding pop. For the most part, I ignore this. I fumble in a rickety desk drawer for the flashlight kept there and I am racing to find the Book.
The only way to calm Teach Liath is to read from the Book. Any narrative-sensitive being would know that it’s a dark, leather-bound tome that sits on a stand alone in a basement, surrounded by candles. Unfortunately, Liath is not one of those beings. And so the Book is anticlimactically colorful, with bright watercolors on the pages and short sentences. A tattered, dog-eared mess, one cover missing—a children’s book about the Moon Dragon, a little dragon who is put in charge of the moon. It was my favorite bedtime story, before I found out its true purpose. It is kept on a slouching bookcase on the third floor, between a dictionary of Old Norse and a well-loved copy of The Penderwicks.
From the kitchen to the third floor is an untold number of stairs, and I arrive several bruises later, wheezing. I grab the Book, I'm still panting too much to read properly, but I gasp out the first few lines anyway. No response. Not a single light flickers to life, the whirling papers still tumbling in an intangible wind. One hits me across the face.
I wait for my breath to return and try again. I read, in a loud, clear voice, “The Moon Dragon, by Edith Copenvalt. This brainchild is dedicated to all of you. Especially YOU.” I turn past the title page and continue. “This is Harvey. He is a very small dragon, but he has a very big job.” The lightbulb above me flickers in interest. “He is a Moon Dragon. He takes care of the Moon. And that is a very big job for one small dragon.” The keening from the walls is waning. It feels like the walls are leaning in, attentive. Finally.
I keep reading. When I reach the end and go to close the book, I can’t. Vines are holding the book in place. They have grown from the very fabric of the house. They are wrapped around my hands. A wind flips the pages back. I start the story again, trying to block out the fact that the vines are gradually tightening around my wrists. I can’t feel my fingers. I read again. And again. Morning comes. I am still reading. I read on and on, longing for release. It doesn’t come. I recite. My voice is weak and broken.
After I am gone, a voice continues the story without me. The house is reciting. In my voice. I have been pulled into the depths of Teach Liath. As the porch roof stoops low and brushes the ground with long vine fingers, the voice swells and halts, swells and halts, swells and halts and sighs. I am the spirit of Liath, temperamental and timeless.