The Henry Hewn House

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Anna goes on adventure

The Henry Hewn House

 

As Anna turned down the country road, she felt back in time. Like when she was little and her parents would take long peaceful drives through the hills. So much had built up, but out here, it looked just the same.

Anna stopped the car on the rickety bridge and heard the washing sounds of the river. It was late fall and the trees were golden and red. The old house wasn’t far.

As a child, she’d peer out the rear view window. “There it is!” she’d cry and they’d look down the lane to the house. You could glimpse the roof through the trees.

There it was! The Henry Hewn House still stood! Anna stopped and peered down the lane. The scattered leaves made that sleepy pathway - calling - drawing her in.  

The for-sale sign stood beside the mailbox. All her life, Anna had heard that the house was haunted. That Henry’s ghost walked the halls. When the last owner was found dead in the house, there was all that talk of tearing it down.  

Anna was glad they restored it. What would it hurt to look inside?

She didn’t intend to buy. The last thing Anna needed was a big old house. Since her divorce, her parents, her ex-husband, well, everyone told her to buy a small, sensible house.

She’d nod and agree. Yet, sometimes, Anna felt a mounting pressure, like a steam valve about to explode. All these helpful hints about how she should live her life, till she wanted to scream.

She looked down the tree-lined lane. Something about the old house called out to her. She’d never been inside; it might be years till she got another chance. Anna picked up her cell phone and dialed the number on the for-sale sign.

“Sheldon Realty,” a man said.

“I’d like to see the Henry Hewn House.”

There was a long, silent pause. Tiny needles prickled her skin.

“This afternoon around five?”

“I’ll see you at five.”

***

In late afternoon there was a gloom about the house that Henry loved. It was almost five and Henry felt the hush of the old house as though it were settling into sleep. Henry loved the secret corners, the quiet angles. He’d designed each one. Nailed every board. People said he haunted the old house, but he only frightened the destructive ones. The meddlesome ones, so, they’d scream and get out.

After his death there was all that peace and light and angels beckoning, but Henry stayed on. Who’d watch out for his house?

Who’d terrorize the kids painting rainbows all over the walls. Twisting their grimy hands on the door knobs. Then there was that ninety-year-old man who cooked cabbage all the time and stunk up his house. What a shame he fell down the the stairs.

Henry was good at shudders and moans, shrill cries in the night. Then, of course, the last one, old Potts, he’d grown rather fond of.

Potts kept up the place in the early years. He cleaned  out the gutters and sprayed for termites. Best of all, Potts never changed things. He left the house like it was. The trouble with - living people - was they got old and  forgot. They died!  

It was three days before the delivery man even found Potts. The house was almost condemned. Henry was beside himself until Sheldon Realty stepped in and restored it. All those workman, still, Henry made sure they left before dark.

Now the house would get some brainless bum who couldn’t hammer a nail into a board. Henry glowered. On guard, roaming the halls. Let him come.

* * *

As Anna turned down the lane it felt familiar. No, it was more than that, like she’d been here before. The shadows moved in a certain way.The leaves whisked and whirled, like a door closing gently behind. The trees met over her head like a tunnel - like an adventure - like something waiting!

The old house appeared. Towering, and looming as she stopped. Yet, comforting and waiting, as though she were home.

“Hello,” she called.

No answer.

She’d expected a Sheldon Realty car. Perhaps he’d parked round the back. Anna stepped on the porch and felt the soundness of the boards. An iron knocker hung on the door and she pushed inside, “Is anyone home?”

* * *

Thunder rumbled. Dark clouds hung heavy over his house and Henry loved a good storm. He loved the growling grumble and how the solid oak paneling of his foyer absorbed the gloom. Gave it an air of fear and awe. The crown molding precisely done. Months and months of back-breaking work, hand-carved by Henry himself!  Surely, the new owner would drool over his wonderful entrance. Some dimwitted version of Potts.

There came a popping sound, a crunching of gravel as someone turned down the lane. Who’d come this late?

A car stopped in front of the house. “Hello,” a voice called. A woman’s voice. “Hello! I called this morning.” She pushed inside.

Henry materialized just in time. “Hello,” he nodded.

She stopped. Her eyes widened in surprise - she was very beautiful. It was a long time since a woman came into his house. Henry was glad to be suitably dressed. Just as he was in life, impeccable in a three-piece suit.

Ah, he’d caught her off guard.

Her dark eyes appraised the entryway. Large and searching, yes, she was lovely. “It’s an impressive house,” she said. “When I turned down the lane it felt like I was going back in time. So stately, as I drove to the house.”

Henry smiled. He could smile, although he hadn’t done so in a while.

She looked at at the exquisite molding around the entryway and squinted her eyes, “Still, I’d have to do something about this ceiling. It’s too dark. Maybe I could rip it out and put in a skylight. Paint this old paneling, maybe a shade of buttercup. What do you think?”

Henry remained still, the build up was in his eyes.

“I’d start with the walnut floor, tear it out, put down a slab of marble. Yank out that chandelier. What crap!”

Henry swelled upward so that he towered over her. His eyes blazed in fury as he screeched a blood curdling roar.

Her eyes widened in surprise.

Henry waited for her cringe of terror. For her to shriek and run out, but she said calmly, “I thought you were the real estate man. I was trying to work down the price.” Then she smiled, “My ex-husband was louder. If that’s it, Henry, I’m disappointed.”

Henry bellowed an oath that shook the whole house.

She stepped straight into him. “Bellow and shake all you want. I’ll buy this house and paint it purple with orange stripes.’’

Henry rattled the windows and doors. She sneered in open disgust. She howled with laughter as a car drove up to the house.

“That’s the real estate man. Meet your new owner!” Her eyes danced with a certain light.

Henry remembered the light. He remembered the singing angels that night when he died. So peaceful and calling and leaving it all behind. Perhaps, he should go.


Submitted: October 24, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Suzanne Mays. All rights reserved.

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Comments

D Mays

Loved the ending. Well done as always!

Mon, October 25th, 2021 11:27am

Suzanne Mays

Thank you D, Halloween is just around the corner.

Tue, October 26th, 2021 2:50pm

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