Hannah was absolutely fed up of waking in the night to a woman’s crying. At first she had felt sorry for her. But this had been going on for months now.
They had only been in the house for 5 months and Hannah had already had problems with the neighbourhood children. For some reason they found it funny to put red paint on the door. Hannah had washed the door at least once a week. She had had a camera put in but hadn’t caught anyone yet. When she does they’ll be hell to pay.
Today she decided she was going round to the neighbor. The depressed one. She obviously needed a friend or someone to drag her out of her despair. That crying and wailing was so heartbreaking to listen to! She couldn’t bear it any longer. So had decided she would go and see if she could help in anyway.
When Vera answered the door she got a shock. It was the girl from the new couple that had moved in next door. She hadn’t expected her at the door but she welcomed her in.
“Cup of tea dear?” She offered as she beckoned to the chair.
“No thank you!” Replied Hannah and with a sudden realisation changed her mind, “yes actually a tea would be lovely! No sugar thank you” Hannah thought perhaps Vera needed company and that is why she was so upset.
“I’ve just come to ask you about the kids on the road” she lied, although it was only a small lie, she did want to know about the kids after all but that wasn’t her sole reason for coming.
“Oh yes. You mean Louise, Josh and those Smith boys?” Vera replied growing suspicious, “lovely group of kids always helping me with my shopping and offering to do chores for me!”
Hannah nearly choked on her tea. She explained to Vera about how they had been putting the red paint on the door.
Vera’s face dropped. All the colour seemed to drain from her.
“That’s not the children dear!” She tried to break the news gently. She couldn’t believe she didn’t know about the house that she had bought. “It’s the house! Your not from round here are you love?” Vera explained the history of the house to Hannah.
She explained all about Eleanor and her children. The family that first owned the house that had stood on the same spot as Hannah’s house and how they had all died from plague. She explained how anyone that had lived in the house since had been woken by Eleanor’s wailing in the night and the paint on the door is to warn people away!
Hannah sat frozen to the spot. She never set foot in the house again. Another couple recently moved in. They seem nice enough.
Eleanor had not slept in days. Not since her eldest son had caught fever. That night was long and drawn out. Eleanor checked on him throughout the night bringing him hot and cold compresses to ease the fever and shivering. He would scream out for water to quench his thirst as she ran up and down tending to him.
She got Anna to call round for the physician but all the real doctors had left town months ago all that were left were the ones brave enough to witness the ill and name the illness. And she was terrified that it was what she feared the most.
When dawn broke she opened her eyes to find that she had fallen asleep on the chair by the hearth. Her eldest daughter Anna came running into the room with tears streaming down her cheeks.
“It’s Tom, it’s Tom” was all she could choke out before she ran outside to be sick in the street. Eleanor ran to Tom’s room. As soon as she caught sight of him she turned away. The sight of his face was unbearable to look at. His features had been pushed to one side by a yellowy, purple boil that was the size of a very large apple. Eleanor calmed herself and went back to him. She could hear him groan in pain as she placed the compress on his forehead. Her eyes filled with tears as she watched Tom shiver to feel the cold compress on his scarlet skin.
It was the plague after all. It killed us all off in the end but poor Eleanor refuses to believe it. Refuses to believe we all died in this house! So we play this night over and over again. One day she’ll understand. She’ll have to. I’ve heard the other people that live here, the living ones, I’ve heard them talking about a priest to get rid of us. Maybe it will work. But for now I will tend to mother. Helping her with Tom and washing the red paint from the door each morning. One day she will see. One day we will get our rest.
(co) Christine Jones 2017