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The house was a typical suburban house in a typical suburban neighborhood. It was a nice house—comfortable, old-fashioned, very quaint. Recently, it had been painted a welcoming light blue to cover up the distasteful yellow that had been fading and peeling for so many years. It was furnished in an old Victorian style, with a bookshelf and coffee table of the same dark wood and a plush leather couch that was colored a deep burgundy. This décor had stayed fairly constant over the many years this house had been in existence.
Living in this house was a girl named Ashley Davis. She and her family had moved in about a week ago. Ashley was the kind of girl who liked to daydream about her future as a wife, a mother, and an artist. She lived with her parents, Kathy and Marcus, who were often away at work. Ashley had beautiful wavy brown hair, sparkling blue eyes, and fair skin. She was optimistic, well liked at school—she lived a comfortable life.
Until she moved to this house.
“Bye, Sweetie. I’m going to work. You know the rules,” Mrs. Davis shouted up the stairs. Ashley knew the rules: don’t answer the door, don’t leave the house, don’t use the phone unless there’s an emergency—the usual.
“Okay, love you.”
She heard the heavy wooden door shut. Great, she thought, Alone in this house again. Ever since she moved here it seemed like every time she was alone, someone was watching her. They lived in a safe neighborhood and Ashley was use to being at home by herself, but something here made her feel uneasy. She had confronted her parents with the matter the first time she experienced it.
“I wouldn’t worry about it, Pumpkin,” her father had said. “You probably just aren’t used to living here yet.”
Her mother chimed in: “It’s most likely your subconscious mind trying to grasp the fact that this is your home now. It will go away eventually.”
Ashley had understood, but she was dissatisfied. She knew it was more than that; the sensation had been too strong for the explanation to be so frank.
She jumped. Her recollection had been interrupted by a noise downstairs. No big deal, she told herself, trying to apply her parents’ words. Old houses creak all the time. She heard it again. This time closer, like it was on the stairs. Her pulse quickened. She tried to stay calm; this had happened before, she could live through it again.
It was quiet for the next few minutes. The muscles in Ashley’s body relaxed and she unclenched her fists. She stood up and walked towards the water bottle on her desk.
Rushed footsteps up the stairs.
Ashley let out a terrified shriek and pounced back onto her bed. The footsteps came closer—down the hall, towards her room.
“Mommy?!” Ashley screamed. It had never been this bad. Louder—the footsteps were almost to her room. Traumatized, Ashley jumped off her bed, groped for the door handle, and, upon reaching it, slammed the door shut with all of her strength. The bang echoed through the house, after which all was silent.
She waited. Her heart was pounding in her ears, her muscles quivering and jerking. Sweat dripped down her back and the hair on her neck stood on end. She didn’t realize that her teeth were bared. And she waited. She stood there, staring at the motionless bedroom door for what seemed like hours. Finally, she thought she heard something.
Well, she knew she didn’t hear anything, more like she thought something. Only she didn’t think anything. She heard it again. She was almost positive she wasn’t controlling the sound; it was like there was a voice in her head other than her own. She took a step back and closed her eyes.
“Edith.” It was fainter than a whisper.
“What?” Ashley’s mind-voice said.
“Edith.” It was louder this time. Edith? What the heck is Edith? Ashley cogitated. She began to cry. It didn’t make any sense! The voice, the footsteps, the reoccurring—well—hauntings? Why was it happening to her?
“Why are you doing this to me?!” She shouted between sobs, desperate for some kind of explanation.
She threw herself onto the floor. Only she didn’t throw herself onto the floor. Edith did. She lay there, on the floor, and suddenly, she saw and heard. Her eyes were shut tight and the house was silent aside from Ashley’s heavy breathing, but she saw and she heard—through Edith’s eyes and ears.
She was sitting in her living room, on a much nicer, newer version of her old burgundy couch. Opposite her sat two adults, man and woman.
“Edith, we need to talk to you,” the man said.
The woman spoke. “Your father’s been relocated. Honey, we’re going to have to move again.”
Edith’s voice was cold. “Where to?”
France? All the way across the ocean?! Edith was furious. She stormed up the stairs, to her room.
Ashley opened her eyes. She was still lying on the floor in the middle of the room. There was a loud banging on the door.
“No!” the voice of the late Edith Rose yelled, “We can’t move! You promised it’d be the last time—you promised!”
Tears rolled down Ashley’s face as her heart filled with terror—accompanied by sympathy. She knew now; the autonomous voice in Ashley’s head informed her. Edith was Ashley’s age when she and her parents moved for the ninth time. When they lived in Ashley’s current home, Edith’s parents told her—they promised—that they would never move again. Once they had lived there long enough, she let herself believe them. She let herself believe that she finally had a home. Not just a house, but a home. She should’ve known it was too good to be true. By and by, she moved to France . She lived the rest of her life there, and grew old and died there.
And now she was back.
Just as this story dawned on her, Ashley felt the ghostly remains of Edith Rose push their way into her body. She tried wistfully to put up a fight, to no avail. Most of her adrenaline was non-extant due to the formidable events of the day.
She was conscious of using her last breath to utter one final word: “Help.” Then, she knew nothing. Edith was successful. She had a body. Now she could finally live everburning dream of growing up in her beloved home.
And Ashley Davis was no more.