The Spirit House at Elmdale Road
CHAPTER ONE Miriam sat on the front porch of her grandmother's house, drinking a glass of lemonade. The sun made her feel lazy, so she pushed the chair back, and closed her eyes. Then she heard footsteps on the veranda. It was her uncle Chester. 'How are you, my love. Is your grandmother in?' Miriam remembered that she had last seen her grandmother in the sitting room, towards the back of the house, sorting through her collections for something to sell at the antique market, which would be held in front of the Town Hall, the following Saturday. Uncle Chester walked through the passage, to the back of the house. Miriam rose and walked around the veranda, following him. She paused by the window, resting her back against the weatherboard, and looked dreamily out across the backyard, watching her grandmother's washing line spinning around, glinting in the sun. She could hear her uncle's voice drifting through the flyscreen, under a window, which had been left open. 'That old house down, past the cemetery? No, I don't want to go, there.' 'Really, Chester, it's only a house.' 'It's been a town belief that the house should be avoided.' 'But I just want you to get my locket. I buried it, in the backyard, when I was twelve, and I've always wanted it back. Now that old witch has died, I can lay claim to it.' 'The woman wasn't a witch. She was an elegant lady who dressed handsomely. But after she died, no- one went near that house.' Miriam knew the house of which her grandmother and uncle spoke, because she had heard about it at school, as well. It was an unkempt, but imposing home, owned by the Humes, one of the Humes was a woman with dread locked auburn hair, who wore a rose coloured satin dress, on summer days, a black petticoat trailing the hem of her skirt. All of the children feared, and avoided her, if only because she became slightly mad, in her old age. Miriam, oddly, had never been afraid of both of these infamous places. Her mother didn't like her walking strange roads, on her own, so she had never been anywhere near the property, or the ghost town. After her uncle had left, she pulled open the flywire door and stood, watching her grandmother, as she slowly polished an ivory vase. Her grandmother felt someone close to her, and she was surprised to find her grand daughter standing in the doorway. 'Come in, Miriam, and you can read me that story, now, dear.' 'Nan, what is wrong with the Hume house?' 'Nothing, dear,' said her grandmother, gazing into her small hand mirror, as she removed her earrings. 'Well, why didn't he want to visit it?' 'Well, dear,' She said, 'some houses are so old, that you can still feel what has happened in them, there, even after so many years have passed. Some people have, what is called, superstitions about places.'
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