Monday, July 21, 2014

First Word: Charmaine Pauls: Curse

The house is cursed. Has to be. It sits alone on a hill, top-heavy with a gray slate roof, foundations digging into the rocks like crow claws. Behind it the clouds gather in shades of iron, rolling over the barren trees so low, the turret breaks through the froth.
            The first drops fall plump onto the windscreen as thunder lights up the scene and splits the landscape in two. Carrey pulls her car up the steep driveway, the tires screeching. Standing in front of the three-story residence, it feels like she’s looking at an underwater picture. The house is on the bottom of the ocean, and the milling blue cotton above is the breaking surf. Her throat tightens, and the air is thick when she inhales.
            She makes it inside the double garage as the downpour starts. Sounds inside are foreign. The scraping must be from the branches raking the roof. Ten minutes later she’s in bed, exhausted after then ten-hour drive. She promised Matt she’d call.
            She pressed the dial and his voice come on. “Honey, did you make it okay?”
            “Yes. But the house is creepy. It’s enormous.”
            “It’s only for one night.”
            “Thank goodness.”
            Loud music starts to echo through the space.
            “Carrey? Are you having a party?”
            “Jeez. That’s assaulting my eardrums.”
            “Maybe it’s the neighbors.”
            She stills. “Matt … there are no neighbors.”
            “Are you sure?”
            “Of course I’m bloody sure.”
            “Go check it out. I’ll stay on the line.”
            Her bare feet pads down the hall. The wooden floorboards creak underneath as her weight shifts slowly.
            “Matt? Are you there?”
            “Yeah. Can you see anything?”
            She follows the sound to the garage. Her hand folds around the knob. She jerks the door open and peers down the narrow staircase.
            “Matt … it’s … it’s my car radio.”
            “Carrey? Carrey? What’s going on?”
            Her scream cuts through the air, but it’s lost in the music, and the house on the hill.

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