A Pile Of Dust
by K. Kylyra Ameringer
The sister looked down at Margaret. "You ... want us to move?"
"Yes, yes, that's it," Margaret nodded, happy she'd conveyed her wishes so quickly. "So I can move in, you see. The doctors don't want me doing stairs anymore."
"You're lying." The statement was said plainly, irrefutably. Margaret glanced up, her stinging reply dying on her lips. There was something strange about the woman's eyes. It took a moment to realize the pupils were unmatched; the left was a pinprick of darkness but the right was a great ebony orb, gobbling up the colour of the iris and leaving nothing but emptiness.
"This is my house," Margaret whined, taking a step away from the woman.
LIE! The word smacked through Margaret's brain although the woman stood silent.
"I'm going to move in -"
"- my doctors said -"
Margaret gasped and put her hands to her head. "You have no right to stay here," she gasped out. "This is my house." Her head pounded and rang like a bell, making her vision blur.
The skunk haired woman cocked her head to one side, as if listening to something. She fixed Margaret with a stare from her eyes; eyes that held madness, Margaret was sure. A small smile played across her lips. Abruptly the ringing and pounding in Margaret's head ceased.
"It's decided," the woman said, taking a step towards Margaret. "We'll move on. You'll move in." She smiled cruelly. "Although I personally recommend you don't." Turning quickly, the woman left the yard and disappeared into the house.
Shaken by the encounter, Margaret beat a hasty retreat back to her auto. Safe inside the tiny steel box she took a moment to try to regain her equilibrium. Her hands went to the rosary hanging from her rear view mirror and automatically began fondling the beads. She realized she was repeating her Hail Marys by rote and her voice took on a hysterical edge. Rocking back and forth, the repetition gradually eased her terror until she could open her eyes. Starting her car, she headed to the only safe haven she knew; the church. The priest was right; whatever was going on in that house was unchristian, unholy. She was going to need the help of the church if she was to save the house and possibly herself as well.
Margaret waited in the protective arms of the church and local community until June came. When three weeks passed and no rent check had arrived in the mail she tentatively drove past Number 4 to see if the Americans were still in occupancy. The house looked deserted, but that was nothing new.
She cautiously exited her vehicle and crept towards the front door. The edge of an envelope peeped out from under the door; she swooped to retrieve it. Her name was written on the front in large, bold script. Inside she found a key.
That was it; there was nothing more. No forwarding address, no complaints or thanks. Buoyed by the knowledge that her tenants had finally moved on, Margaret fit the key in the lock and turned. The door swung wide, and a faint odour of cinnamon crept out.
She noted with grudging satisfaction her tenants had returned her Christian icons and statues, although most were in the wrong place. She shambled down the hall, peeking into rooms as she went. Things seemed in order. The kitchen was tidy, the appliances as clean as their thirty plus years of age could manage. The bathroom fixtures sparkled, beds were neatly made up the bedrooms.
Entering the last and largest bedroom, Margaret was shocked to see the ceiling in terrible shape; a latticework of cracks had formed out like a huge spider web from the centre of the room. She walked around the room, her head tilted up towards the ceiling. Here was the damage she expected. Well, there was nothing else for it. She'd need to get someone in to fix it.
The thought put her in a bad temper. She'd not been able to get a hold of her nephew Collin to take care of the garden. No one had seen him for weeks now; most figured he was out somewhere on a drinking binge and he'd show up eventually. In the meantime her garden still looked awful. Now she had to arrange to have someone fix the bedroom ceiling, to boot. It was often difficult to get workers out to do simple jobs like the ceiling; most put it so low on their lists she might have to wait for months. She did know of an alternative, a local lad who could do the work. He wasn't very skilled and certainly not accredited by any union, but he'd show up within a few days to do the job seeing as he was always skint.
A quick call to the local lad confirmed he'd take care of the ceiling, although he was frustratingly vague about what day he'd show up. Margaret told him to come as quickly as he could and hung up the phone. She considered her options. She could leave and go home but there was no guarantee she wouldn't miss the lad's visit and a quick opportunity to get the problem fixed; or she could run back to her house, grab some things, and come to stay a few days to make sure she didn't miss his visit. Glancing out the back windows she saw the overgrown mess that her garden and turned into. That decided her; if her nephew wasn't available to do the gardening she could to start on it herself while she waited for repairs to the ceiling.
A quick stop at her home where she packed a small bag, then a pop into the local supermarket to get some meager supplies for a day or two. Before the afternoon was half over she returned to Number 4, threw her bag onto the bed in the large bedroom with a disgusted look at the ceiling, and headed to the garage for an old pair of clippers she kept there.
A Pile Of Dust by K. Kylyra Ameringer