Six months ago I started building a new house with my fiancee. A few weeks before construction was finished, however, she died. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue living there at first, but this was the house of her dreams, built to her exact specifications. I couldn’t let it go.
Shortly after I moved in, however, things started to go downhill. The first few days without her were lonely. I can’t express how empty this big house felt without her life and laughter in it. We came to visit often during construction and she would dance through the wooden beams that would soon be our walls, around the empty sockets and dead wires that would soon give us light. She was a kindergarten teacher, and it was her enthusiasm and love for life that attracted me to her in the first place. But those very same halls she once danced through were now cold and empty. I could never fill them with that same life.
As the days went on, I had less and less desire to walk them at all. It was a struggle to get out of bed. My appetite faded, and I lost all will to do anything. This was supposed to be our special place. The beginning of our new life together. I took extra shifts at work to finance all the little additions she wanted, not because she asked me to, but because I wanted to. For her. All for her. Now that she was gone why even bother? It didn’t matter anymore. Nothing mattered anymore.
It was the end of my first week in this cold, empty house that it began. The scratching in the walls. It woke me during the middle of the night, and thinking that it was just a possum I made a mental note to get some bait the next day. But the bait did nothing. The scratching continued, every night, for weeks on end. It was quiet at first, like nails gently scraping against wood. Then it became more incessant, like claws trying to break free.
I couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t think. At my wits end, I took a hammer and began smashing through the wall. The wall we had built together. All of my pent up sorrow and rage fueled me as I carved through the plaster like it was the source of all my life’s misery. Over and over I drew back, releasing the hammer with a satisfying ‘thunk’ into the wall. When I was done, I dropped to the floor by the bed, the hammer clattering beside me. But it wasn’t the only thing there. There was a small piece of paper, folded up neatly. I picked it up.
We went to the amusement park today. I didn’t want to go on the roller coaster, but Nate called me a chicken and made me go with him. It was for the best though. I had so much fun! I never had the opportunity to go to places like this as a child, so having the chance to experience them now as an adult with him is truly a blessing.
The house is coming along nicely. The structural beams are in place and it’s starting to actually resemble a house now. Nate worked with me and a designer to draw up the plans exactly as I wanted. We’re literally building the house of my dreams. I can’t wait to move in and start our new life together.
That was it. Each word was a dagger through my heart. Why was this here? How did it get in the walls? I remembered that day like it was just yesterday. She got sick after going on the roller coaster and I spent the rest of the day feeling guilty about it. I didn’t know that she actually enjoyed the experience, regardless. I wiped a tear from my eye and clenched the note in my fist. The wall could be fixed, in good time. But my heart… When I went back to sleep that night, the scratching stopped.
That wasn’t the end of it though. If anything, things began to escalate even more after that. I forced myself to go back to work. I needed money to live after all. That note was the spark I needed, it was like she was there beside me again, even if for just a moment. When I returned home late at night, however, the hauntings continued. There’s no other way to describe them, really. They were hauntings.
I arrived home one night to find a small children’s ball rolling down the kitchen floor. I most certainly did not have any children’s toys at home, but there it went, rolling by my feet of its own accord. I scrambled back into the pantry, trying to get out of its way, but it just continued at the same slow pace down the floor, rolling into the living room and then stopping underneath the table. When I bent down to pick it up, it was gone.
Another night I returned home to the sound of a baby crying. Looking for the source of the noise, I found the TV turned on. But as I approached the remote to turn it off, the TV went black. I never even watched the TV; it was hers, not mine. I unplugged it from the wall, but part of me was beginning to wonder. Was she still here with me? Was she doing all of this?
A few nights later I was woken by a loud smash in the kitchen. I ran to find the jar of pasta shattered all over the floor. But the strangest thing was that the pasta had fallen in such a way that it led like an arrow to a spot under the table. The same spot the ball had disappeared.
I went to the shed out back to grab the sledgehammer. A cold breeze blew over me, but my heart was pounding so hard that I barely noticed it. My mind was running with possibilities. Something was there, under the floor. It had to be. Something… she was leading me there. As I exited the shed my breath caught in my throat. There was a shadow in the spare room next to mine. It was moving towards the window. Someone was in the house. I ran back inside, bounded up the stairs and threw the door open. No-one was there. The window was closed and there was no sign of disturbance.
Confusion and fear mixed into a potent cocktail in my mind. I returned downstairs, my heart jumping at every sound and movement. I pushed the table aside, took a deep breath and began slamming the hammer into the floor. Pasta went flying, chunks of wood went flying, and when I was done, I was in possession of another piece of paper.
I haven’t been feeling well the last few days. I think it’s time to book an appointment with the doctor. I don’t really want to, but it needs to be done.
Nate and I have taken to walking around the park near our current house. When I see the kids there, playing happily with each other, it stirs up feelings within me. I can’t wait to have children of my own, but I don’t know if Nate is ready for that yet. That’s okay, there’s no rush. We’re both young, but I sure hope to hear the sounds of children’s laughter fill our house one day!
So, the house is nearing completion. All going to plan, it should be done in the next month or so! We’ve been back several times to watch its progress, it’s like watching a dream take shape right before my eyes. Nate doesn’t know, but each visit we’ve had to the house I’ve left one of these notes somewhere. I guess it’s like filling the house with my memories and feelings of its birth. Helping me become one with it. I hope to one day grow old and die here, and then if my future children ever decide to sell it, the next owners will find these notes and realise the love that went into creating it.
She wasn’t feeling well? That was news to me. She never mentioned that before she… before the accident. Did that have anything to do with what was going on? And there were other notes hidden throughout the house? My mind swam with thoughts and feelings I couldn’t yet process.
I kept the notes with me. It was like holding a part of her once again and I didn’t want to let go. I missed her so much, and while I was doing my best to continue with my life, everything I did felt empty. The next few days were eerily quiet. It was as though I’d grown used to the sounds of scratching in the walls and seeing things move out the corner of my eye. They’d grown to be less of a terror and more of a comfort. I wasn’t alone. There was something here with me, and it didn’t matter what it was, because it meant that in this giant house of emptiness and unfulfilled dreams, I was no longer alone. When those noises stopped, however, the loneliness was more overwhelming than ever.
A few nights later I woke up in a panic. The bed was soaked with sweat and my legs were tangled in the blanket covers. I gripped the wet sheets and sat up as I noticed something in the corner of the room. There was no scratching. There was no crying, no laughter, no appliances turning on or off. There was something my eyes couldn’t comprehend, standing in the corner of my bedroom.
It was pointing to the spare room. The room beside mine. I rubbed my eyes, and it was gone. The rooms were connected. When designing the house, my fiancee had wanted to use this room for any future children we had, turning it into a spare room or office as they got bigger. Now it was just full of boxes I never found the will to unpack when I moved in. Boxes of her things. Things I didn’t have the strength to sort through.
A box fell over. The contents spilled onto the floor, concentrating in a single area near the corner of the room. Without hesitation I ripped the carpet up. I saw what I knew would be there. It was another piece of paper, poking out between two floorboards.
This will be my final note. They’re just putting in the finishing touches on the house now, so I’m gonna try to put this in before the carpeting is laid out. Hopefully, I can get it to the spare room before they finish there because that would be most fitting.
I’m pregnant! I haven’t told Nate yet, but I went to see the doctor and he confirmed it. I’ve been trying to think of the perfect way to tell him. Do I surprise him with a cake? Do I take him to dinner? Should I break in our first night in the new house with the announcement of our first child? I was thinking about some dumb joke with him opening the oven to find a bun inside. He hates puns, but I’m sure even he’d forgive me for that one. I’m sure that however I tell him, it’ll be memorable for both of us, but I want it to be really special. This is truly the start of the rest of our lives together. All that hard work has paid off.
To whoever finds this note, I can only guess you’ve done so because you now live in my house and perhaps you’re doing some remodelling to make it your own. I want you to know that this house was built with love, and I put my heart and soul into it. I hope you can do the same, and I hope your years here will be as happy as mine will no doubt be.
For the first time in my life, I’m truly happy.
Tears rolled onto the paper before I could stop them. I wiped my cheeks, trying not to spoil the page with further stains. I had no idea. She never… the coroner… nobody ever mentioned that she was pregnant at the time of her accident. Why didn’t she tell me sooner? Why didn’t anyone tell me at all? I never knew. That night I didn’t lose just one light from my life, but two…
I put the note back in between the floorboards and rolled the carpet down. I pulled the other two out of my wallet and put them back where I found them as well. The labourers would be out in a few days to fix the damage I’d done, and the notes should be there when they did. They weren’t meant for me. She… I think she wanted me to see them, to know, but they weren’t intended for me. The house was her dream. She wanted it to be filled with love and laughter and life, not the cold emptiness I’d been filling it with since.
I called the real estate the next day. Several families have been out to see the house, but a young couple with a baby on the way caught my eye. They’ll be moving in over the next few weeks. The house remains in my name, but I can’t see myself ever moving back there. After I found that last note the hauntings stopped, but I can still feel a small part of her there, even now. I hope this new family will bring the house the joy we were never able to. I hope they can fill it with the love and children and laughter that we never could.
It’s what she wanted.