1. Times Forgotten
Sally. My older sister, my best friend, my extra parent and my partner in crime. Five years my senior, I had admired and shadowed her since the second I could walk and talk, observing her actions, views, styles and hanging onto her every last word. Many times I sit and wonder if it ever frustrated her, picking up the dewy big blue eyed, curly blonde haired shadow every time it fell in her wake; if it did, she never said so. But of the long childhood I spent with her and my parents, most vividly do I remember the cold horror that trickled through the curls of that young girl as she sat mouth open, eyes wide as a story of sheer terror filled her head making her jump at every sound of the television and her parents down stairs and every flicker of the torch under the sheets as Sally painted pictures with her words. Even more vividly do I remember when those stories became more than just words. When those spirits that floated in the back of my imagination began to float in front of my eyes.
I was 15 now, straight blonde hair with a tight fringe replaced the curls and the young chubby cheeked face of a small child became an angular face and jaw which grew to fit the size of the once big blue eyes. With more independence as the only child in the house I still waited for those happy weeks when Sally, now 20 would return from university where she was studying English to become a writer and we would sit late into the night laughing about times forgotten. Often we spoke of the obsession Sally had with Hadley House at the end of the road.
The Hadley House was no different to any other house on the close except that it was owned by a rich old man who lived on the other side of the country and after buying the house a few months after Sally was born, had left it empty and unused; except for the occasional cleaner or gardener who came once a month to prevent it from falling into complete disrepair. I had been 4 at the time and 9 year old Sally who had filled her head with stories of ghosts and spirits and after watching a documentary on real supernatural sightings had elected Hadley House as the haunted house of the close. In our playtime I would follow Sally down the road and we'd sit on the pavement opposite staring into the front porch and up at the shuttered windows of the empty house. Sally would whisper to me about moaning figures who had died in various different rooms and how the man who owned the place didn't stay there because the spirits had driven him out after possessing his family and turning them into demonic creatures that screeched and screamed about the house when nobody was listening. Every time the story was different and ended in a different scientist or explorer being murdered in some sort of gory manner or running from the house too afraid to speak and never being heard from again. My young self would listen, frozen to my spot on the pavement listening out for any sound from the house and jumping at the tiniest movement of a plant blowing in the wind. When the cleaners and gardeners came to do their duties in the house Sally would whisper to me about how they aren't affected by the house because they are the evil spirits in disguise, leaving the house to find a child or animal in the neighbourhood to feed on for the next month.
I loved the stories and being young and carefree often frolicked about the garden with my sister pretending to be the ghosts of Hadley House and sneaking up on my dad and making him pretend to be a terrorised explorer who played a long with Sally's little stories as he encouraged her creative mind and set her on track to become a writer. My mother realised early on that Sally more than created this stuff in her head, but believed it, she would often say to me 'Now don't you go running away with Sally's silliness and go breaking into that house or some daft nonsense. I don't want you being dragged back to me by that gardener because he found you ghost hunting on the property.' Of course as young children we never trespassed on the land and wouldn't have dared anyway, too afraid by our own stories to even stand at the front gate.
As Sally got older she became less interested in Hadley House as she focussed on her exams and moving into university and eventually it was just me and my parents, the only mention of the house being if some mention of bills came up in the news and my father would cluck and say 'Bet that house down the road is costing a fortune to hold together, should just give it to one of those poor young couples needing somewhere to start a family, bloody selfish geezer.' And the tales became childhood games and memories until Sally came home for the summer of my 15th birthday.