Chapter 1: Rainy Days
Rain fell heavily against the window, distorting the view of the other side from anyone looking out or in, a crisp breeze ran through the establishment, howling softly through open doors and any clear crevices and holes. A lone figure sat at a desk in silence, staring outside the window on her right while her chin was propped in her opposite hand. Her short silver hair cascaded her head in a feather-like manner, reaching no lower than the base of her neck, her perfect ivory skin held no blemish or scar, her deep maroon eye scanning the grey background for anything interesting, something other than the dull color that inhabited her window and showed no signs of relocating, her thin lips in a small frown as she continued to stare. The rain had been falling nonstop, never-ending it seemed, she longed to see the sunlight again, one of her fondest memories was sun-kissed and mellow, lounging on the lush green grass under the shade of a large tree, but now a gray gloom fogged her mind, a fog that can’t be rid of.
“Eliza!” A shrill voice called her name, a sharp ringing in the echo, “come down for dinner, you’ve been up there all day!”
Eliza sighed, rolling her eyes as she found the willpower to stand from her comfortable sitting. Her over-sized sweater draped across bony shoulder but didn’t quite cover one of them, the sleeves reaching well after her wrists and the hem below bony knees on thin legs. Her bare feet tapped against the cold hardwood floor as she headed towards her bedroom door, turning the knob just enough to push it open. She stepped into the surprisingly desolate hall and turned right towards the stairs, passing more windows that held the same gray landscape, making her frown fall even lower. When she approached the summit of the flight of the old rickety stairs she could hear the muffled screams, gasps and laughter of the other children, heavy footsteps in rapid procession and something solid falling with a dull thud. She took a deep breath before placing her hand on the bannister and slowly making her descent on those wooden steps.
Young boys and girls ranging between 6 - 14 either ran and weaved around the long indoor picnic tables where other children sat and played and chatted with each other, a rumbling uproar bouncing off the walls and amplifying its scream, while the minute few who sat there tried to eat their dinner in peace and preferably without food being thrown into their hair and onto their clothes. Eliza hid behind the wall by the foot of the stairs, glancing from child to child with worried eyes, she disliked being with the other children, they were mean to and called her names. She never knew why they were so mean to her, they just were.
“Eliza?” A sweet voice interrupted her thought, she span around in fright but sighed in relief when she saw the owner of the voice, “what are you doing here by yourself? Your dinner will get cold.”
“I’m sorry...Ms. Annabelle.” Eliza monotoned.
Ms. Annabelle smiled softly and knelt to her, her raven locks gently sliding off her shoulders, “it’s alright Eliza,” her smile grew, “why’re you hiding? Have the other kids been bothering you again?”
“...” Eliza nodded slowly as she looked down and tugged at the body of her sweater.
“Would you like me to eat with you? I haven’t had dinner just as yet either and the children have already eaten.” She smiled once more.
But she didn’t hear her, she was more focused on the pristine white thread braided around her neck. It was thick and emitted a white mist. It was pretty.
“...are we playing a game today?” Eliza monotoned once again.
“Not that I know of, would you like to play one?” Ms. Annabelle’s forest green eyes lit up.
Eliza reached out and gently touched the woman’s neck, “It’s pretty...”
Ms. Annabelle’s confused look was quickly squashed by a bright smile, “Why thank you, Eliza, how about we go get dinner now huh?”
Ms. Annabelle took Eliza’s hand as she stood to her feet, she didn’t know what she was talking about, and walked to one of the tables with little Eliza in a gentle tow. The other children noticed their presence as they sat and started to snicker amongst themselves, Eliza sunk in her seat but couldn’t help but see the same threads around everyone’s necks, some as pristine as Ms. Annabelle’s and others’ not so bright. Some were even a greyish white. Where was everyone getting these threads from, and why wasn’t she given one? A dull, slow knocking sounded, cutting through the air like butcher’s knife, and making everyone stop in their tracks, even Ms. Annabelle was shaken. It wasn’t until a second knocking that she hurriedly stood and rushed to the door. Someone had arrived but they were too far for the children to see or hear their conversation, but Ms. Annabelle seemed almost happy. She stepped aside and let the person in, it was a man.
White hair slick back into a ponytail with a few strands falling before his face, skin pale and grey, eyes sunken in with dark circles forming where they stay, knuckles protruding through thin skin, lips dry and wrinkled, and eyes a dull dull grey. Wearing a black suit with a white tie, he grinned a tired smile towards Ms. Annabelle and the children. Eliza looked at him strangely, she had never seen him before. Ms. Annabelle walked with him to the back office, not ever addressing to the children who this man was or what his purpose was, before closing the door with a soft click. The children started to murmur.
“I heard that man’s adopting!”
“Someone might get adopted today!”
“I hope it’s me!”
“One of us might be adopted!”
A flurry of hushed voices raced across the table in rapid procession, meshing voices together as they got a bit louder. Eliza slowly ate her dinner in silence, deep in thought, was someone actually to be adopted today? A voice at the back of her mind wished it was her, she wanted to see what lies beyond the dark oak doors, if the rain would follow her to her new home.
“If it’s gonna be one of us, it ain’t gonna be Pol though.” One of the children snickered.
“Yeah, who would wanna adopt a freak like her?”
“She’s so weird.”
Eliza sunk in her seat once again, a large frown etching her lips as she sulked, she hated it when they called her that. Pol. Polter. Poltergeist. Just because of her blood red eyes and ghost white skin. She hated that name, it always made her feel less of a person...the strange man stayed all through dinner but refused to eat and stayed with Ms. Annabelle throughout playtime. Some children often gave him gifts of small knick-knacks they found lying around and pieces of candy, anything to entice the man to adopt one of them, while the others stayed behind and murmured amongst themselves. They started to call him ‘Mr.Bones’. Eliza didn’t want to call him that, considering her own nickname, but she never knew his real name and was too scared to ask.
Mr. Bones left just before bedtime, the children excited and hyper, maybe the man had chosen one of them, Ms. Annabelle seemed pleased, relieved even, but she wouldn’t say why. Eliza helped the woman make sure everyone was in bed before retreating to her own room, the other children refused to sleep in the same room as her so Ms. Annabelle had to make adjustments. Even though she would admit having a room all to herself had its upsides, she didn’t have to go to sleep or wake up to the rambunctious nature of the other children, but she didn’t like the feeling of being alone, the deafening tick-tocking of the wall clock was her only companion besides the soft pitter-patter of the rain outside her window but that alone was enough to make her go mad.
As she tossed and turned in her thick sheets she couldn’t help but think back to the man that visited today – Mr. Bones – and his appearance. He looked old and like he hadn’t eaten in several days, was he starving himself? Was there even a reason for his staggering feature?