my son runs through the green grass chasing butterflies, his giggles creating a breeze to stir the warm mid day air. i watch him, thinking it was only yesterday he was born and already he is nearly old enough for school. soon i will have the talk with him. the same one that my father had with me, about the house through the woods.
the first day i saw it, a day much like today, we were playing catch and my dad's throw flew high rolling into the weeds by the edge of the woods. i darted after the ball and he started yelling my name. at the time i did not notice the anxiety in his voice, but as i play it back, every time i play it back, in my mind, it is more pronounced.
it was as if the house just appeared, through a hole in forest. i could not believe i had never noticed it. i started to push further into the trees to get a better look at it, i needed to go there, when his hands grabbed me from behind, spinning me to face him. his face was so close i could feel the heat of his breath, the coffee drank that morning coating each word. he was yelling, though it sounded a whisper, waking me from a dream.
he marched me to the house, everything a blur, we were moving so fast and then going down the stairs into the basement. the cool darkness clinging to the corners, as he clipped on the light dangling by a chain in the middle. it danced there at the end of the chain, following him as he paced back and forth before me telling me how his grandfather had warned him about the house, but he did not listen.
late one night, this boy, that would become my father, snuck out to go see the house in the woods that came to him each night when he lay down for bed, closing his eyes. in the dreams, he saw a beautiful woman standing in the window, her hair flowing in an unfelt breeze, skin pale like diamonds. he raced across the lawn into the woods, limbs snatching the legs of his pajamas until he stood inside the puddle of moonlight that bathed the house.
he saw her there in the window, just like his dreams, but now he was frightened, as her crooked finger beckoned him to enter, the door swinging slowly open, noiseless. he started to shiver, bladder releasing down his leg, as he saw her for what she really was. she became furious, thrashing in the window and he ran, screaming all the way, back to our house, where his father stood waiting as a shadow in its open door.
in telling me this, he knew she would call me as well and i would face her just like all the men in our family that had lived in this house, passed down through the generations. just like i know that one day i will tell this little boy of mine and though i will warn him, he will face her. perhaps, even in fear, he will run, like his grandfather.
i have thought to move away, to remove the opportunity for this to happen to him. every time i put the house up for sale, i end up taking the sign down, placing it with all the others in the garage. my own selfish desires winning over, knowing that if i leave, i can never again go through the doorway, like i did the night she called me.
This is a Magpie Tale.