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The house across the street has been deserted for as long as I can remember. There’s only one person in town that I knew that can remember anything about it. Everyone thinks she’s insane though. All she talked about is a fire. A fire she thinks that happened almost two hundred years ago. The information that we’ve been able to get out of her about the fire doesn’t match up to any records. So she spends her time alone in a small house three streets away.
I lived across the street from the deserted house. I always lived here. The house still gave me the creeps. It had windows like eyes and the rusted metal gate would swing and creak late at night when the wind blew. Kids at school would dare each other to walk through the gate but nobody ever had. They were too frightened of the rumors, rumors of people that have gone missing. There was one of a girl, barely older then twelve. She went into the house eighteen years ago and never came out. The parents moved away. I used to sit in the tree in my front yard and watch it. Then one night I had seen a light in one of the upstairs windows. It flickered and then two silhouettes passed by. They were dancing. It looked like fun but it scared me half to death. I know it sounds like one of those traditional books were there’s the light and the person goes to investigate and is never seen again. I’m not like that though. I steered clear of the house. I forgot about it. I stayed inside my bedroom and would only rarely look out the window at the crumbling house. There was never a light there again.
I tore myself away from my book and got out of bed. I slowly twirled down the stairs and into the kitchen to hug my mum goodbye.
“It’s time to go already?” She asked looking surprised.
“Yep, school sucks hey mum?”
She laughed. “For you, I get peace and quite for six hours a day.”
I glared at her then slowly turned and walked out of the kitchen to put my shoes on.
I walked outside into the bright summer’s day. I began walking at a leisurely pace down the street towards school. When I came to the end I crossed the road and walked into the forest. The air changed from normal morning air to sweet pine air. I pushed branches out of my way and headed down a small slope towards a little creek. I jumped it and continued walking up the other side. My mum doesn’t like me cutting through the forest but she’ll never know. Besides it’s either this wonderful five minute walk or a fifteen minute walk that is dead boring. It wasn’t a very hard choice.
I pushed the last branches out of the way and crossed the road to the school yard. My three friends met me there.
“How’re you going Donatella?” Alex teased.
“My names Dona!” I shouted and made a grab for his hair. I missed and went stumbling.
An and Matt laughed at me and I turned on them.
“It’s not very good to anger me.” I rasped.
They screamed and ran behind Alex. Of course Matt’s red hair poked over the top of them, being the tall person he is.
“Come on guys, before we’re late again.”
We all fell in line and began walking towards the school doors. We didn’t get very far before I saw the new kid.
“Who’s he?” I asked, pointing towards the school doors.
“Who’s who?” An asked
“Him, the guy by the doors!”
“There’s nobody there, Dona.”
“Yes there is he’s…” I stopped. He wasn’t there anymore. He was gone. “Oh, there isn’t anyone there.”
“I think she’s gone senile!” Cried Matt
“She should join old Miss Walsh.” Confirmed Alex
I pretended to strangle them both then walked into the school.
I didn’t think about the boy all day. It was one of those things that I didn’t bother to investigate. I wasn’t the investigating type of person. Just ignore the weird things and get on with my life. I was finally forced to think about him again on my way home though. He was there, by the creek.
“Hey!” I shouted. He didn’t look up. I ran up to him and opened my mouth to say something. Then he was gone, he just vanished. If I’d blinked I would have missed it. I didn’t blink. So I saw him vanish.
I closed my mouth and continued to walk back home. It was harder this time to put him out of my mind.
That night I was in the tree in my front yard again. I was watching the same window the light had appeared in. The boy had reminded me of the house, of the silhouettes dancing in front of the window. Until eight at night I stayed in the tree, just staring at the window. Nothing strange happened until then. The light came back and the same figures danced around in the room. I watched them. I wasn’t afraid anymore. I was drawn to it. I wanted to join in. I climbed down and started walking across the street. Slowly, as I walked things began to change. The rusted gates started to shine, the weeds faded into beautiful grass. The patio floorboards fixed themselves. The house was repainted the white on its walls. The house wasn’t the only thing to change though. I changed. My hair raveled up into a bun and my jeans and shirt melded together into a beautiful red gown. I walked inside and was greeted with a lit up room. Just like old times I walked into my living room and greeted my guests.
I felt happy here. It was my life. There was someone missing though, a very good friend of mine. Johannes was missing. I walked into the kitchen and found him eating a pastry.
“Come on, let’s dance.” I told him.
He quickly wiped his hands on his pants and took my hand to lead me upstairs into a large room. We always danced there. We whirled around and around for hours. Laughing and talking. My father would take care of the guests. Yes, I would be told off for not socializing, but I was happy dancing and twirling upstairs. The clock struck eight.
Eight? It had already been eight? What was I wearing? A gown…no not a gown. Before my eyes the gown melted away, replaced with jeans and a t-shirt. My hair unraveled around my shoulders. Johannes faded out. The bright room went dark and everything began to smell of dust and mold. I was in the house across the street. The one the girl had never come out of. My breath caught. I started to run for the door. I tried to open it. I couldn’t, it was stuck.
“One more dance?” A voice whispered behind me.
I slowly looked around, horrified of what I might see there. I recognized him though. It was the kid by the school doors and the creek. Johannes. I turned back around and started to yank at the door. Then I felt a cold hand on my shoulder.
“One more dance?”
“No! No! I have to leave!” I continued pulling at the door.
“No, you can’t leave yet. One more dance.”
I shook my head and pushed past him to the window. I tried to pull it open. It was stuck as well.
“Just one more dance.” Johannes insisted.
“No! No! No! I have to leave! Go away!”
I pulled at the window once more then went back to the door.
“No? You won’t dance? Then maybe you’ll burn!” Then the room was on fire. I screamed and yanked frantically at the door.
Johannes started cackling. He laughed and laughed. The fire got bigger and bigger. Then he turned and walked through the wall, still cackling.
The air was filled with smoke. I couldn’t get out. I tried to scream for help but the smoke was too thick. Nobody would hear me anyway. I couldn’t breathe anymore. I keeled onto the ground. There were flames everywhere. Heat burning my skin. The smoke was choking me. Then the ceiling collapsed around me. It hurt so much! The flames burning me and the roof crushing me. All I could think about was getting out. I never made it though. I was trapped on the floor, the house burning around me. So there my ashes lay, mixed in the pile of rubble. I never came out.