Esther's House, страница 1
Michael Carter (c)
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NOTE: Here’s a true story for you all to enjoy. It was written in 1998 and previously appeared on ghost-stories.net many years ago. If you like it, why not write a short review; do you believe what happened in Esther’s House? This story is based entirely on truth.
~ I ~
In the beginning there were two common events between Esther and myself. The first happened every Wednesday afternoon, after dinner had been allowed to digest; she would visit our house, aided on the ten minute walk by her loyal sister and companion, Florrie. Somewhere along her life Esther had injured one of her legs and beneath her unaired tights lived a permanent bandage, which seemed to my young mind never to be replaced with another; I thoroughly believed that my aunt's leg had snapped, and that only the slightly off-white strip of cloth was holding it together.
It was painful for Esther to make the short journey, and Florrie, too, though in good health, was getting on in years and sometimes found it difficult providing support, especially as she received no thanks. My mother and I often went to meet them at the top of our street and help them down the bank to Number Five.
This is where the two sisters parted. I never really understood why Esther would come in and talk with my mother and me, while Florrie would rush back up the bank to their shared bungalow, returning to our house to collect Esther at the usual agreed time; half-past three.
"Florrie's got to get back for the dog." Esther would justify. "He pines if he's left on his own."
It was a fair excuse, but that's all it was; an excuse. While they were at home they used to argue fiercely over every little thing; my parents had heard them at it when visiting. Wednesday afternoons were a chance for the two to have some time to themselves. Esther could hardly wait to settle onto our couch and tell Florrie that she could go now, and Florrie herself looked wonderfully pleased when those words were spoken.
They had lived together for as long as I knew, and my mother said they had been close to each other for the majority of their lives. Florrie had never married, although my mother once told me of the rumours that she had been secretly eloping with a local scrap-man's son, but it all came to an end when he became the latest victim of the semi-frozen pond at Greenhead. I suppose Florrie must have taken it hard (if the rumours were true, that is) as it was that very same body of water that claimed both her and Esther's father, and would later, and under mysterious circumstances, consume Esther's husband.
Unlike Florrie, Esther did marry, although she came to the process quite late, at 36 years old. He worked in the mines and was the same age as his bride, though of a much harder disposition. Within only weeks of the bonding-through-law it became apparent that Tommy Pybus, the husband, was beating Esther and drinking all his wages away, each one of these negative characteristics causing and resulting in the other. They lived together for a short time in a council house on the new estate but only four months after their union they returned to their respective childhood homes.
They carried on seeing each other for a small number of years, encompassing both good and bad times, until one fateful February day when the pond claimed another prize. It was Florrie who bustled into their family home with the news of Tommy's demise; apparently she had been there and watched it all happen, the only other person around on the bitterly cold day. Florrie said that he was in an alcoholic haze and was sliding about on the thin ice shouting to no-one in particular. She was taking the short cut from the town with some shopping when she heard a huge crack and a splash coming from the pond's direction. She feared the sound and she knew its implications, having heard tell of it many times in the past, and she (so she said, my mother recalled) ran over to see who the unlucky individual was. Soon after ejaculating the news to the family she broke down into a hysterical fit and began to describe in horrific detail how she had seen Tommy's confused face as it became red raw and slowly engulfed in sub-zero water. After the experience Florrie spent several months in a "Correction Facility" because of recurring epilepsy and nightmares. Esther seemed for the most part unaffected, and showed little public emotion.
The times that followed in the Wharton household, the six years before Esther and Florrie's mother died of tuberculosis, inspired nightmares in my young head when my mother told me of her (and my Grandmother's) visits to that house.
The nightmares stopped long ago and my mother never speaks of it now that all concerned are gone, and thus the memories on this are a little hazy. What I do remember above all else is that there was the mother who was blind, who would sit in a rocking-chair in the corner of the room, and rock rock rock all day long, singing to herself long-archaic tunes that no other could understand. Around her were gathered her four daughters (her only attempt at a son had been stillborn), none of whom were properly educated and none married, save Esther who was now a young widow. My mother told me, too, that the house was always stiflingly hot with fetid stagnant air and uncirculated dust that settled on the cheap furniture and naked floors as if Time itself had stopped. These imaginings did nothing for my desire to sleep soundly on a night time.
But alas, none of these things were spoken of on Wednesday afternoons, where my mother and Esther would chat about inconsequential and trivial matters; pensions, the ever-escalating price of dog food, my growth and achievements at school, the teenage mood-swings of my two older sisters, and anything that found its way onto the agenda. Esther would always give me some money (usually a fresh 50p piece, newly printed, from the post-office) and a packet of mint sweets. If I was off school I would play with my He-Man figures in front of the television all afternoon. If not my father would bring me home just in time to receive my weekly presents and the kiss (which I hated every time; on several occasions I considered giving the goodies back if it would spare me the kiss) before Florrie arrived to trundle Esther back up the bank and home.
Like any child I looked forward to the confectioneries and the money which I collaborated with my pocket money to buy stickers for my albums at the weekend. That said, though, I was always glad when they had gone, and for Wednesday evening at least I would never sit on the couch in the same place that Esther had.