Orphan House

Tien is a Vietnamese girl living with her English adoptive parents. They move to an abandoned orphanage where Tien soon starts seeing things. At first she thinks she's going crazy. But when her baby brother starts talking to thin air she begins to wonder if there is another explanation. When she finds the diary of one of the old social workers her worst fears are realised.

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1. Chapter 1

Tien stood in the middle of the room. All her furniture was there but apart from that it was bare. All her clothes, and books, and makeup and decorations in the boxes scattered around her feet.  She opened one of the boxes and started unpacking her books. All her favourites were in there. Her Michael Morpurgo’s, her Stephen King’s and her Lauren St John’s. She set them out neatly on her bookcase before placing all her dolls from Vietnam. She was just about to pin her postcards from Vietnam up on the wall above the bed when she noticed something. Pencil marks had been made on the wall. On closer inspection she saw it spelt the word ‘seven’. It was an unusual thing to write on a wall as most people put ‘Jamie was here.’ Or ‘Katie loves Sam.’ But to just write one word, one number to be more precise. Now that was unusual. Slowly Tien clutched her shoulder with her right hand and ran her it down her arm. Stopping where her elbow began and her arm ended. For some reason she could not understand Tien didn’t want to cover it up. Something that simple had to be symbolic. Like her dolls were to her. To most people they may look like collectors’ items to Tien they were so much more. They were her link to her origins. Vietnam the country she was born and abandoned in. She’d been brought up in England raised by a British family but she never lost touch with her routes. Sighing she started pining her postcards up on another wall.

***

That night Tien stayed up very late. Her mum had ordered pizza and they all sat watching Scary Movie 4. After that they stayed up until midnight playing Scrabble. It was at the stroke of 12 Tien’s mum looked up at the clock and sent her up to bed. Happy and tired she went without any fuss. But just as she was about to get into bed she noticed the writing on the wall now seemed to say ‘BURN’ and there were scorch marks around it. Tien assumed it was either down to tiredness or the trick of the light and thought no more of it.

The next day Tien woke up to the sound of a tractor rumbling past. She pulled herself out of bed and walked across the room to open the lace curtains. Out in the field not far away a dark green tractor rumbled along. The old sign that stood at the entrance of the courtyard creaked in the breeze. Tien was fascinated by the sign. Its white paint was chipped and peeling, the chain attaching it to the post was rusted over and the swirly writing had nearly completely faded away. But you could still read the words ‘Orphan House’. It was that word that fascinated her. Orphan. This house was where abandoned children like she herself would have lived. She was sleeping in the same room as a child with no real parents. It was exciting but at the same time it was sad. Why was the orphanage closed down? It had been closed in 1963 and no one would say why. Sleepily she rubbed her eyes and made her way downstairs to the kitchen. Her mum was standing at the stove frying a few strips of bacon. “Morning Tien. Hungry?” Tien nodded. “You’re not the only one.” Her mum replied patting her bump. “This little guy’s got a healthy appetite.” Tien smiled. Her baby brother was due sometime this month. “Mum. Do you know what you’re going to call him?” Her mum smiled. “We thought you’d like to name him.” Tien beamed with pride. “Really? Could you call him Keemo? It means friendly in Vietnamese.” Her mum placed a couple of strips of bacon on a plate next to a slice of toast and handed it to her. “Keemo is a lovely name. Let’s hope he’ll live up to it.” Smiling she took the plate and made her way into the dining room. After breakfast she sat in the garden reading The White Giraffe. Her back to the house leaning up against the old oak that grew there. At one point her mum had come out and announced she was going to the shops and was there anything she wanted. Tien just shook her head and carried on reading. It wasn’t long after this Tien heard a voice. It was a faint voice, barely audible like a little girl. But she could make out the words. “Sing me a lullaby.” It called. “Sing me a lullaby.” Tien slowly put her book down. The voice sounded like it was coming from inside the house. But how? Slowly she stood up and crept back inside. The voice was still calling out. Creeping along the hall and up the stairs Tien strained her ears to hear where it was coming from. Everything suddenly seemed so loud. The pipes gurgling, the floorboards creaking, her breathing.  The sound seemed to be coming from one of the rooms they hadn’t worked out what to do with yet. Carefully and quietly as she could Tien turned the door knob and pushed the door open. The room was filthy, with dirt on the floor and cobwebs in the corner. The wall paper was scratched and a bed with its duvet all jumbled up stood against it. Tien looked around but there was no one there. The voice seemed to have stopped calling. Feeling sick Tien ran out the room and slammed the door behind her. She ran back down the stairs and out the front door. She stood there on the drive pacing back and forth waiting. Every now and then she would look up at the window but still she couldn’t see anything. The only sounds were her footsteps on the gravel and the sign creaking. It was hours before her mum came home. “Tien what’s wrong sweetie?” Tien told her about the voice. “It was probably just your imagination.” Tien wasn’t convinced. Her mum sighed. Ok I’ll have a look at this ‘haunted room.’ She went inside and Tien followed. They went up the stairs and into the room. Her mum stood there for a while. “Tien sweetie there’s nothing here.” She left but Tien stayed put. Had she imagined it? Could she have imagined something so clearly? She was just about to leave when something caught the corner of her eye. On the wall was a shadow of a little girl hunched over. Feeling sick again Tien left quickly. “I’ll never go in there again.” She muttered to herself. “Never.”

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