This old house


This old house

“Kelly, I want you to do a cover story on that old homestead over in Plymouth.” Shauna said.

“That old house? It’s barely standing. No one wants to touch it, not even a real estate developer to determine the property’s worth or potential. They claim there is something strange about it. An old man who looked after the adjoining properties around there lived in it.”

“Yes, the caretaker. But, he died years ago, a very old man. But, there is no death record on him.”

“And his spirit still lurks around the old grounds. That’s what the real estate office says.”

“Well, you said you loved doing stories on places where things happened.” Shauna said, smiling.

Land deeds, surveys, property listings, documents of all kinds were spread across an old map table at the county courthouse. What looked like tea stain marks and scrawled signatures merged together making things nearly illegible.

The house was over a hundred years old. Records showed inhabitants from nearby properties were descendents from the original settlers.

With my camera, door key and copy of the records I approached the house, cautiously.

Tree roots grew up between rotted floor boards exposing earth and weeds, causing the entire floor to buckle in places. I hope I don’t fall through the floor to some gaping hole beneath. Paint was chipped and peeling from walls to ceiling where spiders weaved thick webs for their occupants still moving about. Windows were broken where the ground had shifted under the foundation.

A lone bulb dangled loose from a string of wires suspended just above me as I heard the patter and gnawing of rats or mice in the attic. I hate spiders, detest mice and freak out at the sight of rats.

The ceiling did not look any more stable than the floor looking like it could collapse any moment. I pulled out my flashlight. The descending sun cast shadows across things inside giving it an eerie glow. The furnishings were sparse, all of them looking like ancient pieces from a bygone era. Old, yellowed newspapers with dates so far back… Impossible! Beside them lay recent newspapers, some even with my stories in them. How can that be?

I quickly propped up my flashlight and began going through the pile. There was a scrolled up piece of parchment; a draft… Mayflower Compact?!

Floor boards creaked under heavy steps. The door was pushed open. I jumped, grabbing my flashlight and held it tightly in my raised hand; my ‘weapon’ ready.

“Oh, miss. I’m happy to find you. I read your stories in the Plymouth Sentinel. You tell a good tale. Will you write ours, about our crossing on the Mayflower? Oh, I’m sorry. I haven’t properly introduced myself. I’m William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony.”

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Footnotes: This is a story of fiction, but the real story about William Bradford, the Plymouth Colony governor can be found  here   The above photo is one I took from the road we traveled while on a trip back to New England and Nova Scotia years ago. This old house caught me eye, and I had to stop and get a picture of it. I don’t think anyone was living in it at the time. I love taking pictures of old homes, historic buildings and churches and try to find some history on the area wherever we travel, so thought it would be a great photo prompt for this story.

Happy Halloween 🙂

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

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