Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

The Landlady

on 06/09/2015

Some stories linger within us, only to be brought on paper/screen by accident or serendipity. The Landlady is one of those. I was attending a wonderful fb book launch for In Shadows Waiting by Stewart Bint, having fun exchanging our own ghost stories with Mr. Bint’s extracts from his masterful new horror, and this little story of mine (based on a true one, believe it or not) won me a free book. Not bad for a story written directly into fb comments, right;)? This is the rough version of the story, which might live to see its improved and edited version in my short story collection next year.

THE LANDLADY

Several years ago, my husband and I rented a small family house on the coast to spend a week there with our kids during the summer vacation. Just an old concrete family house, nothing special about it, except for the fact that it was close to the beach and quite cosy and cheap.

During the first night there, I woke up at about 3 am out of the blue. It was unusually quiet, considering it was quite close to a busy road and the tourist season was in full bloom. It was pleasantly chilly, brisk feel of fresh air around. My hubbie was sleeping next to me, our baby girl in her cot right across the bed. Next to her cot there was a chair. It had been empty when we went to sleep. It was not empty now.

There was a middle-aged woman sitting there, all calm and serious, her back straight, her hands on her knees, her apron on as if she’d just been making dinner. She seemed like a typical woman from that part of the country, except for the fact that she was kind of transparent. I could see the pattern of the chair cover through her blouse. She looked right at me, then my husband, then my baby girl, moving her head only. She said nothing, but had a stern look on her face. I was more puzzled than afraid, wondering if I’d been dreaming it all. I dared not speak, prefering to keep the status quo than risk a turn for the worse. Then she nodded to me, got up and walked into the other room, where my son was sleeping.

I was up in a second and went after her, barefoot and speechless. I was prepared to intervene at the first trace of danger, although the nature of my possible intervention was still a mystery to me. She entered the room, looked at my son, turned to me, nodded in approval and walked right past me, straight out of the house, through the closed front door. I blinked, breathed in and out, and shook my head in disbelief.

Then I went to check on my kids. Both were OK, unharmed and asleep. My husband was breathing peacefully, dreaming. I went to the bathroom, washed my face, told myself those were just remnants of a dream in my head, and went back to bed. It felt like a silly test of some sort.

A couple of days later, we stumbled upon an old family photo album in one of the closets and went to take it to the owner, but browsed through before returning it to them, our curiosity prevailing. A black-and-white photo of a woman caught my attention, but before I could say anything, my husband poked the photo with his index finger and eyes wide open, and said:

‘This looks just like the weird woman…’

‘…the ghost of the woman in the house…’ I interjected. He nodded and continued.

‘… I saw her on the first night. She entered our room, sat on the chair next to the baby cot and told me to go back to sleep, because she’d watch over us. And I… I actually did.’

It turned out she did watch over us, till I woke up. She must have nodded to me to confirm all was fine. My husband bit his lip, feeling a bit guilty, so I retold him my experience. We looked at each other, our quizzical brows raised, and quickly went to return the album to the house owner.

‘Oh thank you so much,’ he said. ‘It was my grandma’s old album. She left me this house to run. She’s been gone for years, but I still feel as if she’s here, checking out if I am doing the job well.’

‘She sure is,’ I muttered below breath, and my hubbie smiled back, with a conspiratorial wink. We never told the owner what had happened. As I said, the house was cosy and cheap, and the tourist season was at its peek. We had a wonderful week there, slept like logs and never saw the old landlady again. I guess we checked out fine.

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2 responses to “The Landlady

  1. akaushiva says:

    Oh my god! Really? This happened? I can’t imagine myself being that relaxed if I were in your situation. ūüôā
    Would love to read your short story collection. All the best for that!
    Aditi

    Liked by 1 person

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