The house stood dour and uninviting, much like an old, vicious-looking butler, at the end of a long line of happy-looking houses with lush green lawns and neatly parked cars. In a neighborhood that screamed of color and modernity, it stood alone and segregated, reeking of black and white; bleeding darkness and memories of some past horror onto the leaf-strewn streets like blood.
The house's facade was like an angry, brooding face. Deep cracks ran along its grey, weather-beaten walls, resembling frozen veins and broken windows glared and glinted in the sun, posing like broken teeth. I eyed the inky darkness behind those windows; it was so black that I could've scooped off a handful and used it to summon the Devil.
There was a small parched yard in front of the house that mirrored the house's eerie dreariness spectacularly. The sunlight seemed out of place as it streamed all over the yard, drenching it in a useless attempt to shoo away the inevitable feel of gloom that hung about it. A couple of dead Sycamore trees waved their bony fingers in the breeze, beckoning me to come closer like an alluring enchantress. I obeyed, almost scared of what might happen if I didn't.
I approached the heavily rusted, ironwork-laced gates that guarded the old house like exhausted bull dogs. They were unlocked and were slightly swinging to and fro in the fickle wind gusts. Their rasping creaks shrieked at me to stay away, to leave them untouched. But I wasn't threatened.
I stepped onto the front yard of the house, past the screeching gates that now sang in a hellish chorus: You want to play with fire? Then get ready to burn.
My shoes crunching the coarse sand of the yard (which really sounded like dry bones being crushed to me), I regarded the house and it seemed suddenly as though I had somehow wronged nature itself. A scene that would've served well in a lowbrow horror movie unfurled itself forebodingly around me: the sun dimmed itself as thick ribbons of cloud swam in front of it, shrouding it. Fallen twigs that lay scattered around the dead trees rolled as dry, gritty winds grazed them, and whorling ravens cawed menacingly as if to warn me something bad was about to happen immediately. The house looked down at me with a moue of extreme distaste. I wasn't sure if what I saw was real or if they were the after effects of the various sleeping pills I'd devoured the night before - a useless attempt to break my insomnia.
I started feeling very weird suddenly. My head rang as if I'd been standing too close to a resonating gong and my palms grew cold and sweaty. I had difficulty keeping my balance and my mouth was almost sandpaper-dry. I should've gone back into my car and driven away but instead, I went forward almost as if in a swoon.
My mother had always taught me to ask four questions to myself every time something scared me: Why am I scared? What is scaring me? Do I really have to be scared of it? If yes, what can I do about it?
A pang of remorse severed my heart as I remembered my mother. I wished she were there with me, holding my hand and warmly rubbing it in hers to help me calm down. I wished to see her winsome, uneven smile, her bright freckles and her deep hazel eyes. I missed her very much.
Forcing my mother out of my thoughts, I studied the house in front of me. Its ancient, decrepit appearance and how it still had an ambiance of old money and a rich stateliness about it. They said it was heavily haunted, the people of the neighborhood but I didn't believe them. All sorts of stories had evolved about what had happened here. Distorted canards and dark rumors all far from the truth, but they all had one thing in common: Years ago, a man had murdered his wife in this house, and their eight-year-old daughter had unfortunately been there, witnessing it.
I started walking towards the front door thinking the answers to the four questions my mother had taught me: Why am I scared? I'm scared because of the house.
What is scaring me? That I have to walk into it.
Do I really have to be scared of it? Maybe. I don't know, do I?
What can I do about it? Reassure myself that that there's nothing to be scared about. There's nothing to be scared about. It's just an old house.
I climbed up the front porch steps, ready to kick open the front door. The wooden steps squeaked at the touch of my feet; I moved fast. Spiders had formed families at the door's edges and were living in thick-white gossamer mansions. I forced myself to not look at them. I also forced myself to not think about the fact that this was my first time seeing this house in fifteen years since that horrendous Wednesday night my father had murdered my mother here.