First Line Friday: Fiction – Stenham House #amwriting #fiction #FLF


Thanks to Dylan of MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting last week’s FLF.

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Credit: http://bigproof.ru

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“Stenham house was an ancient locked thing and nothing returned there except for crows.” 

Lost in the forest Marybeth was charmed by the crumbling facade of the ancient mansion. She wondered what the house looked like on the inside as she slipped through the rungs of a creaky black gate.

“What’r you doin’ here, Marybeth?” her older brother Winston cried, grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her.

“Mom’s worried. Said you’d been out so long she was ‘fraid you were lost in the woods for good. You know you’re too young to be out here alone.”

“What’s in there?” Marybeth asked Winston pointing to Stenham house. 

” You don’t want ta go there, ” Winston said matter-of-factly. “Tommy Johnson went in there and never came out the same. He’s a touched now.”

“Well he still lives in the neighborhood,” Marybeth argued. “I see him at school. He doesn’t play with the other kids much but sits in a corner and reads. There’s nothing wrong with that. What happened in that house?”

Winston shook his head, “You’ll have nightmares Marybeth, I can’t tell you. Mom’ll kill me.”

“S’okay I’m a big girl now. I’m seven. I can handle it.”

Winston sighed,”They say a family was murdered there. An axe murder came in and hacked them all to pieces. Grandma, Grandpa, the parents, and worst of all the children. There were four of them and the oldest was eleven.”

Marybeth gasped, “That’s bad. I saw the curtains moving I think someone still lives there.”

“There was a fifth child, he was a tot. The nanny hid him but was butchered herself. Even though the little guy was adopted, he always woke up with nightmares about the murder, even as an adult,” Winston whispered. 

” He lives there now, I think.” 

“He decide to live there when he ‘came  an adult. It was the only way he could face his demons. That’s what Aunt Sally told me.”

“Does Aunt Sally know him?”

“Yeah, they were in the same grade.”

Suddenly the front door to the delapitated house flew upon. Winston and Marybeth saw a gaunt middle aged man standing at the entrance. He motioned them over but then the crows began to fly and circle around the children, diving at them and pecking them when they tried to reach out to the man. 

Marybeth screamed batting at crows as she ran all the way back home to the safety of her mother’s arms. Winston followed his sister, his screams even more terrified. 

He swore to his sister, later, he saw the man at the door to Stenham mansion disappear into thin air. Marybeth believed him and decided to stay away from Stenhem house until she was older and wiser. 

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©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.  

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Sunday Photo Fiction: A Sordid Affair


Apology: I’m sorry, this is way too long for Flashfiction but the story just developed and formed. I tried to cut it down and it’s still too long 😦

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I am sitting by a government building and admiring its interesting architectural elements. I am waiting for my contact to arrive. 

It’s fall and I can feel the nip in the air as winter approaches. It’s why I have chosen to wear my new coat. It’s long, hits me mid-calf, and is made of a silk-lined pink-wool with black buttons.  My makeup is flawless down to the lipstick that matches my coat and my hair is curled artfully. I’m anxious, but I need to appear in control. 

My contact ‘Winston’arrives. He is dressed impeccably in a tailored suit and expensive shoes. He could be any government businessman. Winston looks at me and  I can tell from his calm expressionless demeaner he knows about ‘intrigue’ well.

“Do you have it?” I ask him curtly “you’ve had plenty of time.” He looks at me sternly, “time is money” Winston says and I hand him a small bag filled with twenty-thousand dollars. 

I stare up at Winston and hold out my gloved hand. He places a small memory stick in the leather of my palm and passes me a hard copy in an envelope. “It’s pretty obvious” Winston murmers matter-of-factly, ” Senator Smith’s wife is cheating on him. She has been for seven years. Two years after he found out, he began his own affair.”

“And before?” I  question.

 “He was faithful for the five years they dated. Since the day he meant her, he never slept with another woman until five years ago. Before Ashley, um you…  he was miserable. He channeled his energy into his work and became a young Senator.” I shook Winston’s hand,”anytime, Ms. Taylor.”

I stare at the memory stick with the evidence of Linda’s affair. I knew about the affair of course. Jamie’s wife Linda was the one who first cheated. He had loved her deeply. She had wounded him and he hadn’t recovered until he meant me. But Jamie was still married to Linda. A piece of his heart hung onto her, even though she was always with Daniel (Jamie’s cousin) and hardly spoke to Jamie. 

Slowly, I walked away from the ornate government building, walked down the street past some trendy shops, and into a restaurant called Linguini, where I met Daniel, Linda’s boyfriend. 

“She gets a divorce or she disappears,” I tell Daniel. Daniel’s face turns pale when I present him with the envelope Winston gave me.”Why does she string Jamie along Daniel? You and I could both be free to be with who we love, if only Linda would sign the divorce papers.”

Daniel sighs, “she won’t sign the papers because she gets almost nothing. Just a million for twelve years of her life.”

“But she cheated first and she hates him now. Jamie didn’t start seeing me until two years after Linda first cheated. She had her chance.”

“It makes me angry too, Ashley. I have lots of money, but she gets hysterical when I ask her about signing the divorce papers.”

“If she doesn’t the media will know what a whore she was. How she ripped apart her marriage with the senator, cheating with you. If that’s not enough I’ll have her sent away. She’ll never see you again Daniel.”

A growl comes from Daniel, ” I’ll get her to sign the papers. I wish you would have came to me and we could have worked out a better situation for both our lives, Ashley. You didn’t have to play dirty.”

Daniel left the restaurant quickly and I sipped my Mascoto deep in thought. Jamie arrived soon after, his eyes sparkling at me  serenely.” I have missed you so much,” he tells me kissing me softly and then deeply as we get lost in each other. 

Jamie sits down beside me and puts his arm around me while we order food and drinks. “I have something to tell you,” I start talking nervously. I tell Jamie the whole story of me highering Winston to dig up proof of Linda’s indescretions. When I’m done talking a tear escapes my eye and Jamie wipes it away with his thumb. 

“Ash, I wish you’d told me sooner. We both would have felt better if I knew what you were doing.”

“Are you mad?” I manage.

“No, not mad at all. This proves to me what I know; you love me and are faithful to me. You’re also a smart and savvy woman. I told myself I’d never be fooled by a woman like Linda again. That’s why I sent her the divorce papers and that’s why she’ll go to trial and get the death penalty if she doesn’t sign the divorce papers.” I gasp. 

Jamie’s face has gone rigid and I can tell it is difficult for him to say the next words:”We did have a child once. A little girl named Amber. She was sweet and only two when Linda strangled her for crying loudly when they were home alone one night. Linda said the noise was driving her crazy. . .” I huddled into Jamie stunned. With a vacant look in his eyes Jamie whispers,”she was my wife. I kept her secret. I thought she was depressed. Then I found out she was cheating.” 

“That’s terrible Jamie. I can’t believe you’ve been keeping this inside you all these years.” I whisper. 

He smiles at me, “two years later I met you and you made me feel whole again. I promised myself I would cut ties with Linda. She wants more money but I won’t give her a cent. She killed my innocent daughter, and I have all the evidence necessary to put her in jail on death row.”

The food arrived and Jamie and I ate hungrily keeping us from saying more about the situation. Although, I wanted Linda gone, apart of me wondered whether she had struggled with postpartum depression; maybe she was still dealing with a mental illness untreated. She did seem volatile.

One instant I was eating and the next I heard a commotion in the restaurant. Linda was standing at our table screaming at Jamie. Daniel was close behind her trying to calm her down. I guessed his discussion with her based on my threats hadn’t gone well. 

Linda threw the divorce papers on our table and shouted, “I want more money! If you don’t give me more, I’ll shoot the skank.” A handgun was pointed at my chest. Daniel and Jamie were carefully, attempting to settle Linda down and obtain the gun when Linda cracked and pulled the trigger. People screamed as the shot rang out. 

I felt a burning in my chest, then extreme pain. I saw the blood on my hands as I tried to stop the steady oozing with my thick wool coat. Everything was happening quickly. Then Linda held the gun to her own head and despite pleading from Daniel, and the sounds of horror others were making in the restaurant, the gun went off. I briefly thought about how many people at Linguini would be traumatized by this shooting;  not only Daniel, Jamie, and I. 

I shrieked, surprised I still had a voice. My head was cloudy and I ached in pain as Jamie was trying to stop the flow of blood on my chest and call 911. Daniel was a mess as he cried over Linda’s body. There was blood everywhere and I registered the noise and panic of the people around us from a distance. 

I slept fretfully for ages. I dreamt awful scenarios and I almost woke up before tumbling back into a nightmare. When I finally awake, I’m at a hospital and I can see out a window to the government building below. My memory is pricked but Jamie is asleep beside me, his head on the bed. I adjust my position on the bed as carefully as I can without hurting myself and waking Jamie. 

The funeral for Linda was weeks ago. Daniel was devastated, especially when Jamie told him about his past with Linda. He felt Daniel had a right to know the truth. 

I had been in the hospital a month in semi-consciousness. I almost died and Jamie had spent most of his time waiting for me, (while taking a leave of his senate responsibilities)to wake up and live the life we wanted together. “We’re free Jamie,” I tell him when I am allowed to leave the hospital. He grins and my pulse increases.

 “I thought I’d lost you Ashley. The doctors told me it was a long shot you’d recover. ” I held Jamie’s hand in solidarity. I was done with intrigue and blackmailing people, for now…

  
Thanks to Alistair Forbes for the prompt picture.