If houses had memories, what would Adair House remember? Its white shutters and gingerbread trim perfectly contrasting its butter yellow siding? The arabesques of its wrought iron fence surrounding it in shiny black glory? Maybe the way frosty rime once coated its lead-paned windows on chilly autumn mornings?
Now that fence is eaten by rust and consumed by the weeds that conquered the front yard. The lead-paned windows that are still whole look down upon Arbor Street, gray with cataracts of dust. The once lovely trim is missing or hanging down nearly indistinguishable from the moss carpeting it.
Adair House does have memories, I remind myself, wiggling through the partially open gate. It protests, making my teeth grind, but I should expect the screech by now. Though it seemed rusted open, a gust of cold midnight wind slams its weight against me, knocking me on all fours. It doesn’t want to give you those memories.
But it will.
I dust my palms and knees off as I rise. Some missing skin is nothing compared to bloody scratches down my back, the bite marks, and broken bones the house has given me.
I have to work for what I want.
A portrait of Kitty Adair greets me as I slip through the front door, her beautiful yet stern face studying me. The house remembers her, the spinster sister who disappeared. Rumors abound about what happened to her: voodoo; murdered by a man she rejected; suicide. One day she was there, then…
I know Kitty never left. I’ve seen her.
My fingers brush the moldering wainscoting as I walk down the hall. Dim moonlight illuminates the way. But I don’t need to see; I know the route by heart.
“Get out,” hisses in my ear as icy hands slam me into a table.
My skirt sticks to the bloody gash I now have up my thigh. Another battle scar from Adair House.
“No.” And I won’t. The house down the street has called to me since I was a child. I continue on, ascending the staircase.
A crack deafens me as I reach Kitty’s bedroom. Motes of dry dust float up. The stairs are gone.
“I can’t leave now, Kitty,” I whisper, my breath visible in the cold.
She’s sitting at her vanity table brushing her hair but stops as I approach. The next second, she’s facing me, the skin hanging off her cheeks, her eye sockets empty, black holes. A banshee cry leaves her gaping jaw as she flies through me.
“It’ll take more than that to scare me.”
“I know.” Her lips brush against my ear; her palms rest on my shoulders. Her pale face reflects in the vanity mirror, as beautiful as it had been in life. “I’ve waited so long for you, my love. I knew you would be my companion from the beginning.” Her arms wrap around me, pulling me into her darkness.
How will the house remember me, the girl Kitty Adair loved?