“The house is beautiful honey,” Abby exclaims as they pull into the driveway. It was an older two-story farm house sitting on the outskirts of town. Its antique white paint and black shudders gave it an old southern appearance. The tall oak trees and the stunning flower beds added to the gorgeous picturesque.
“Wait until you see the inside.” Smiling, Greg turns off the van.
“Oh look Lilly, a swing set, and a sandbox.”
“I wanna see, I wanna see,” the three-year-old exclaims. Throwing the van door open, the preschooler rushes across the spacious yard.
“Stay where we can see you,” Abby replies, climbing out of the car.
“I will, mommy,” the child yells, racing towards the swings.
“I can’t believe you got this so cheap.” Stepping into the kitchen, Abby starts looking around.
“Do you like it?”
“I love it, Greg. “ She says, running her hand over the handcrafted wood. Older houses have so such charm. She thinks as she continues to survey her surroundings.
“I was told the cabinets are specially ordered.”
“They’re gorgeous,” she says, running her hand across the dark mahogany wood. Seeing a smaller door off of the kitchen, she excitedly runs through it.
“The pantry is huge, and look at this beautiful china cabinet,” she exclaims, eyeing the Victorian hutch in front of her.
“One room is almost the size of our entire apartment,” she continues, admiring the beautiful furnishings. Looking to her left she notices a built-in shelf with bull’s eyes sitting on either side. A similar shelf is directly across from it.
“That’ll be perfect for my antiques,” she says, walking into the front room.
“The ones I plan to collect while we’re here,” she laughs.
“The front room is huge, and look at that beautiful view.” She pulls the lacy curtains back to get a better look. She sees the window overlooks the green mountain side. She then notices the clear light blue skies as far as the eye can see. I can gaze at this for hours, she dreamily thinks.
“Wait until you see the bedrooms.”
“How many are there?”
“There are three upstairs and one downstairs, but these two rooms can be made into bedrooms if you don’t want to travel the stairs,” he says, points to the two smaller adjoining rooms. Looking around he sees his wife has completely disappeared.
“Where did you go?” He laughs.
“Up here,” she yells from the top of the stairs. Greg starts to follow her up when he hears Lilly’s high-pitched screams. Darting out the back door, Greg sees Lilly standing in front of the garage, screaming at the top of her lungs. He sees her little body trembling as she stands frozen in the entryway.
“What’s wrong honey?” he asks, bending down next to her.
“I saw him, daddy, I saw him,” she yells, pointing towards the garage.
“Who did you see, honey?”
“I saw an ugly old man hanging from the ceiling,” she cries turning towards her father, she burries her head in his chest. Greg scoops the terrified child into his arms.
“It’s alright honey.” He soothingly replies
“I saw him, daddy, I really saw him,” she cries.
“He’s not there now, see.” Hanging tightly onto her father, Lilly slowly turns around.
“He was there, Daddy, I swear he was,” she cries.
“I believe you, honey,” he says, gently rubbing her back.
“Is Lilly alright?” Abby asks, rocking the baby in her arms.
“She’s saying that she saw something.”
“I did Mommy, I did! I saw a man hanging from the roof,” she says, burying her head into her Daddy’s large shoulders. Not sure what to believe, Abby glances at her husband.
“He’s gone by the time I got here.”
“Maybe she saw a shadow.” Abby suggests.
“I know what I saw, mommy. I saw a fat ugly man hanging from the roof,” she cries, clinging onto her father tighter.
“Why don’t we pick out your new room, Lilly? I heard there’s a princess room upstairs,” he says, carrying the child towards the house.
“A princess room just for me?”
“Is that the one you want?”
“It is Daddy, It really is.”
“Let’s go see if we can find it, then,” he laughs as he continues across the lawn.
Stepping closer to the building, Abby nervously peeks inside.
“There’s nothing in here, but old junk,” she says. Stepping through the large wooden doors, she starts looking around.
“Someone left a lot of their stuff behind. Nice stuff too,” she thinks examining a couple of pieces. Laying them down, she starts walking towards the back of the shed. A cold eerie feeling starts creeping up on her the further back she went. Unable to stand the frightening feeling any longer, she rushes into the warm afternoon sun.
“I guess the place has all of us a little spooked,” she laughs, closing the doors behind her.
She sees her husband surfing through channels when she walks in the house. Feeling the baby fussing in her arms, she plops down on the couch beside him.
“He acts like I’m starving him to death,” she laughs, watching Adam hungrily latch on to her breast.
“I want a booby too, mommy,” Greg says, reaching for her.
“Is that all you think about?” she asks, playfully slapping his hand away.
“With a beautiful woman showing me her breasts all the time how can I not?” he asks, reaching for her again.
“You’ll get yours tonight,” she laughs, slapping his hand again.
“Is that a promise?” he asks, raising his brows.
“You’re daddy’s incorrigible little guy,” she laughs.
“You enjoy it, too.” He smiles.
“Where’s Lilly?” she asks, glancing around.
“She’s upstairs playing.”
“I tried talking her into staying downstairs, but she insisted on the princess room.”
“Lilly loves her princesses. Do you really think she saw something?”
“I didn’t see anything.”
“Yeah, but they say children and animals can see things adults can’t.”
“So you’re thinking that the shed might be haunted?”
“Let’s just hope it’s a friendly ghost.”
“And he stays in the shed where he belongs.” Abby quickly adds.
Abby is putting food in the pantry when she hears Lilly laughing in her room.
“I guess Lilly found some toys to play with,” she thinks, putting the rest of the groceries away. Abby hears an older child mumbling something. Lilly laughs in response. Plopping the food on the table, she runs up the stairs. Hearing footsteps scurrying down the hallway the child glances up.
“What’s wrong mommy?” Stepping into the doorway, Abby starts looking around.
“Is something wrong, Mommy?” The child asks again.
“I wanted to see if you’d like a snack,” she answers, continuing to survey the room.
“I’m not very hungry.”
“I’ll be downstairs if you change your mind.”
“Ok mommy.” Turning, Abby slowly walks back down the hall.
“She wouldn’t understand,” Lilly says
“Adults never do,” The older child answers. Abby runs back to the room. She sees Lilly sitting in the same spot, playing with her dolls.
“Is something wrong mommy?”
“There’s no one in here with you, is there?”
“My friend Ashley is here. She’s having a tea party with some of her babies.” The child says, pointing towards the corner. Abby glances over at the small table. She sees a doll in each of the four chairs. A small teacup is sitting in front of them. Realizing she’s being ridiculous Abby laughs.
“If Ashley wants a snack for her party, let me know.”
“We will mommy.” She’s having a tea party with her imaginary friend. Abby laughs walking down stairs. She then remembers the voice she heard. Imaginary friends don’t make noise. She thinks, stepping into the kitchen. Greg noticed the look on Abby’s face as she’s walks in the room.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
“I just heard a girl’s voice upstairs.”
“Lilly’s probably awake.”
“She is but the voice I heard wasn’t hers, it was a lot deeper, one you’d expect to hear from an older child.” Abby explains.
“You know how Lilly changes the tone of her voice when she’s playing.”
“Yeah, maybe, but how do explain all the dolls being rearranged?”
“Lilly probably did it.”
“She rearranged the ones on the top shelf too?”
“You’ve been working awfully hard, so why don’t you lie down, take a nap.”
“What about Lilly and Adam?”
“I’ll keep an eye on the little buggers. Besides, I want you rested up for tonight,” he says, grabbing her butt as she walks past him.
“I knew you had an ulterior motive brewing in that dirty little head of yours,” she scolds.
“You know me too well, honey.” he laughs.
Abby was out the second her head hit the pillow. Within a few minutes, she started dreaming.
She dreamt that Lilly was playing out in the sandbox when three little girls walked towards her. She guessed the older two were around seven or eight, the youngest around Lilly’s age. Each of the girls wore old fashion dresses that flowed loosely from their bodies stopping at their tattered boots. The girl’s curly brown hair hung loosely around their faces. Abby watches as Lilly motions her visitors to sit down beside her.
“I’m glad Lilly found someone to play with,” she thinks, putting a bowl in the rinse water. She starts scrubbing another dish when she hears a voice behind her. Abby jumps, causing the plate to slide out of her hands.
“I want you to meet my new friends, Mommy. This is Amy, Ashley, and Anna. They used to live here years ago.” Lilly says.
“Nice to meet you, girls,” Abby says, turning around. She gasps when she sees their mutilated faces.
“Their daddy burnt them in a fire. He burnt their mama too,” Lilly explains.
“How awful,” she says, as the older child whisper in Lilly’s ear.
“I will, I will.”
“You will what Lilly?”
“The girls want me to tell you to stay out of the shed.”
“Mommy, Mommy come quick, daddy’s hurt.”
“Huh, what?” Abby mumbled as Lilly continue to shake her.
“Daddy is in the shed and he’s hurt!” Throwing back the covers, Abby runs out of the house. She sees Greg slowly limping across the yard.
“Oh my god Greg, are you alright?” she asks, running over to him.
“I’m fine. I just got the wind knocked out of me is all.”
“What happened, Greg?” He looks down at his daughter.
“Lilly, can you go check on Adam for me?”
“Sure daddy.” Greg waits until she’s out of earshot before he continues.
“Someone pushed me off of the ladder.”
“Lilly would never do that to you?”
“It wasn’t Lilly.”
“If it wasn’t Lilly, then who? Wait, you’re not saying a ghost pushed you, are you?”
“Mommy, Daddy, Adam’s crying.”
“I’m coming, honey.”
“I don’t know who it was. All I know is someone pushed on my chest, I lost my footing and fell,” he explains as they continue walking to the house. Seeing the landlord getting out of his truck they stop.
“Hi, Mr. Jones.” Greg says as the old man approaches them.
“Is everything working properly?”
“Everything is fine,” Greg says.
“I’d love to stay and chat, but I have a hungry baby that needs tending to,” Abby explains.
“Don’t let me keep you. Well if you folks don’t need anything else I’ll leave you two alone.”
“Wait, Mr. Jones!” Greg says, grabbing a hold of his landlord’s arm.
“Yes.” He says, turning back around.
“I have a question, about the previous tenants.”
“They were only here a couple of weeks.”
“Why were they here for such a short time?”
“I don’t know. They moved out without saying a word.”
“Do you know where they are now?”
“Not a clue. Why are you so interested in them anyhow?”
“I found some of their stuff in the barn and wanted to give it back to them.”
“That old junk was moved out of the house long before they moved in.”
“Have you ever lived in the house?”
“No, I bought it for a rental property, to make a little extra cash you see.”
“Who did you buy it from?”
“The bank, they sold it to me cheap said they want to get out from under it. From what I gather, they’ve been trying to sell it for years.”
“No one’s lived in the house during that time?”
“Not that I’m aware of. Why are you so interested in the history anyhow?”
“Strange thinks have been happening to us.”
“Strange thinks like what?”
“Lilly swears she saw a man hanging from the shed rafter and I felt someone push me off the ladder.”
“Well, you know how children’s imaginations can run wild and as far as you being pushed you probably just lost your footing.”
“I suppose you’re right. I’m sorry I wasted your time with such foolishness.”
“No, don’t be. I just wish I could’ve been more help. Well, I have farming to tend to,” he says walking towards his truck.
“Thanks for checking on us.”
“No trouble at all. If you ever need anything just holler.”
“I will and thanks again.” He sees Abby busy in the kitchen when he walks in the house.
“The little burger ate fast,” he laughs.
“Adam wasn’t awake.”
“Why did Lilly say that he was?”
“She said she thought she heard him crying when she walked in the house. When I checked on him, he was snoring away.”
“Maybe he was crying in his sleep. Where is Lilly?”
“She’s playing in her room, why?
“I wanted to show her the doll I found in the shed,” he says, pulling the old rag doll out from behind him.
“She’ll love it.”
“That’s what I thought too,” he says, running up the stairs. Abby’s busily making supper when she feels someone brush up against her.
“Not, now, you sex maniac, you,” she laughs. Spinning around, she sees that no one is behind her. Hearing her husband walking down the steps she turns towards the hallway.
“Was you in the kitchen a few seconds ago?”
“Not since I showed you the doll, why?”
“I swore someone just made a pass at me.”
“Maybe our ghost likes what he sees,” he laughs, grabbing her butt.
“I’m being serious, Greg,” she says, smacking his hand away.
“Ok, I’m sorry,” he snickers.
“A lot of strange thinks has happened to us today, Greg.”
“That’s for sure. You know what Lilly told me about the doll?”
“She said that her new friend Anna has been looking all over for it. I swear that child has one wild imagination.”
“Wait, did you just say Anna?”
“Yeah, she said she has three new friends.”
“Let me guess their names. It’s Ashley, Anna, and Amy, right?”
“How did you know?”
“I had a dream about them.”
“Yeah, I dreamed that Lilly introduced me to them. She said that their daddy killed them and their mamma in a fire.”
“Do you remember anything else about your dream?”
“They have dark brown hair, blue eyes and they were dressed in clothes from the 70′s.”
“I’ll be right back.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to talk to Lilly about her new friends,” he says, darting back up the stairs.
“Honey, the baby’s awake,” Greg yells.
“I hear him.” Walking in the nursery she sees Adam is sleeping soundly in his bed.
“I know I heard you crying,” she says, checking to make sure the baby is alright.
“I’ll get him.” she hears as Greg steps in the nursery. Seeing his wife standing motionless over the crib, he runs to her side.
“Is the baby alright?” he asks.
“He’s sound asleep.”
“I swore I heard him cry.”
“I did too.” Seeing the baby is sleeping soundly they both walk out of the room.
“I’m going to talk to Lilly about her friends.” Greg says, as he rushes off. Abby is putting the pot roast in the oven when she sees her husband walking down the stairs. She then notices the confused look on his face.
“What’s wrong honey?”
“I asked Lilly to tell me about her friends and she repeated everything you just told me.”
“Maybe she overheard us talking?”
“How? She was in her room with the door shut when I walked up the steps.”
“She could’ve heard us through the vents,” she says, pointing above her.
“That’s possible I guess. She did add one little detail.”
“She said that their daddy was hung in the barn.”
“She probably added that because of what she saw today.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right.”
“I think we’re letting our imagination get the best of us.”
“Me too,” Greg nervously laughs, glancing around the room.