We walked our old neighborhood for what seemed like hours with our camera crew, filming for our documentary. It was amazing seeing this place again but the neighborhood didn’t seem like it was back when we lived in the apartment together. I noticed at the end of the street was a spooky looking old house that looked as if nobody had lived there in a long time.
“Hey, Kevin…who lives there? I don’t remember that house.” I asked, staring at it. I could have sworn I saw someone in the window looking back at me. He looked at the house for a minute and scrunched his face to get a good look. It’s amazing, after all this time they still look like two caterpillars chillin’ on his forehead.
“I don’t remember that being there before, but remember we also haven’t been here for many years, Nick. Maybe the people moved out or something.”
“Yeah, maybe the people just moved out. You’re so paranoid, dude.” AJ said although I knew he was feeling creeped out like I was. He lit a cigarette and Brian shook his head at him.
“I thought you were quitting for Ava.”
“How about you tell me what to do when you take care of your voice. You don’t even listen to us when we tell you it needs work.” AJ snapped, and the two of them began to bicker. I rolled my eyes at them, letting them argue. Someome was definitely looking at me through the window.
“Where are you going?” Howie called after me when he noticed me wandering off. I wanted to find out what was going on, to see if I just wasn’t going insane.
“I’m checking something out, I’ll be right back.”
“Be careful. We all know stuff happens to you when you decide to be curious.” Howie told me. I waved him off and kept walking, the place wasn’t that far. When I got closer the curtain was closed and I sighed to myself, maybe it was a trick of the light. I would have tried to get in, but a hand on my shoulder startled me.
“Not so fast. We have to go do some interviews, come on.” Kevin said, leading me away. Even after twenty years he still acts like I am a kid. We did the interviews and I couldn’t concentrate on anything but that spooky old house. What was inside and why did they stare at us?
“We are spending tonight and tomorrow here, okay Nick….hello, Nick?” Howie said, finally noticing my dazed expeession.
“Yeah, that’s great D. I’m tired, I think I’ll just head up to my room then.” I lied. Moments later I took a cab to that street again, I had to get this thought out of my head.
The house was there just like before but it seemed like nobody had been there for a long time, the lawn was full of dead grass and weeds.
“I’d keep away from that place if I were you.” a voice said suddenly, making me jump.
“Who lives here?”
“Used to be a family, with a little girl….beautiful little thing. There was an accident, the little girl got hurt pretty bad, the parents died. Nobody knows what happened to the girl. People say that house is haunted.”
I turned to the house again and felt eyes on me.
“It is. Just don’t go poking around, no good can come from it, boy.” the man said before walking away. I walked around to the back, noticing the graffiti on the sides that some punk left there along with empty spray paint cans. The back door was ajar. I went inside, it smelled musty. Dust fell as I opened the door and went in….curiosity peaking.
“Hello?” I called out. Right Nick, like someone is dumb enough to answer.
The house was pretty empty but a thin layer of dust covered everything…it was making my nose itchy.
I found a staircase and began walking up, my heart pounding as I heard scuffling.
“Get out!!! You don’t belong here!!!” someone shouted and I was struck with a book across the face….it hurt like a motherfucker but I regained my balance and kept going. The stairs creaked and another book flew at my head, this time I ducked.
“I’m warning you!!”
“I’m not leaving….just tell me who you are…” I called up to them. The stairs creaked loudly and I fell through, my leg getting caught between the step. I felt pain and I cried out, trying to get myself unstuck.
“Help!!!! Please help me..” I called out. A figure appeared at my side and began tugging…I could tell it was a woman but her face was hidden under a shawl much like arabic women wore. She smelled sweet, like peaches. After some time she managed to help me get my leg out, but I couldn’t stand.
“I told you not to come up here…the stairs aren’t safe.” she said, sighing as I limped to a room upstairs, leaning on her for support.
“Were you the one in the window?” I asked while she looked at my leg, I could smell blood but the wound was not bad. I was just cut up from the wood scratching me.
“Why did you come here?” she asked without answering my question. She seemed like she was more annoyed with me talking to her than me getting injured.
“I was curious. I meant no harm, what is your name?” I said. As she leaned over me I drank in her scent.
“You don’t care about me…no need for formalities. Your leg will be fine, did you just come to gawk at me like everyone else does?” she said.
“No, I don’t know anything about what happened. You’re the girl aren’t you? The girl that man told me about?” I replied while watching her clean my cuts.
“None of your damn business.”
I was getting really curious now, she was so cold hearted but she helped me, it made me want to know more.
“Well, it looks like you won’t be going anywhere for a while if you can’t stand up just yet.” she explained, she seemed offended I kept looking at her. I laid on the moth eaten couch, feeling a spring poking at my back. The room did not have much, just a fireplace, a couch and a mattress on the floor. A pile of discarded newspapers sat next to the mattress.
“Can I ask you something?” I said after an uncomfortable silence.
“What is with all the questions?”
“Why do you live here all alone? Surely you don’t get lonely by yourself?”
“What do you care?” she snapped.
“I think you’re interesting. You can talk to me, I don’t bite.” I explained. She eyed me like she was waiting for me to say I was kidding.
“I like being alone. People only cause problems, judge…make fun. They don’t understand me….you’re the first person who has even stuck around for this long. I’m not used to company, you know.” she replied.
“I know how that is. Name is Nick.” I told her with a smile.
“Belle.” she whispered.
The two of us sat around, talking. She told me about the accident that claimed her parents….and the reason for her being a recluse were the scars covering her face, people stared and asked questions so she shut herself off from the world, stealing to survive.
“It doesn’t have to be like that, you know. You can’t stay locked up all the time.” I told her when she was done speaking.
“I can’t leave here. I can’t let them see this hideous monster I became. Nobody would talk to me.”
“That isn’t true. I didn’t run, did i?”
“No offense, Nick but your leg is not working now.” she chuckled and we both laughed.
“You’re funny and nice….I like talking to you, Belle.” I smiled.
“You don’t mean that. Once you see my face you’ll want to leave just like everyone else.”
I finally convinced her to take off the shawl. Her brown hair was tied up and you could make out the lines of her scars….covering her cheeks and nose, her lips were pushed unnaturally to one side.
“Wow, I am so sorry Belle….I-”
My phone rang and it was Kevin wondering where I was. I told him I was out for a while and would be back.
“I’m afraid that won’t happen Nick.” Belle said, watching me hang up.
“Huh??? Why?” I asked. She took my phone and threw it outside, my eyes watching in surprise.
“You aren’t leaving.”
I shifted, feeling sick to my stomach.
“Belle, why? My leg is sore but I’ll be fine. Why did you throw my phone?” I whispered.
“I am so very lonely Nick. We can keep each other company forever.”
I felt goosebumps going up my spine as she spoke, it was then I knew she was being serious. It was then I knew what that old man was saying, he was warning me.
“You can’t do this Belle. We can leave….you can start over.” I tried reasoning with her.
“No, that isn’t possible. I like you, Nick….ever since I saw you outside. You will be a great companion.”
I felt my eyes water….I should have listened to Howie