What stories would your house tell, if it could speak?
This has always plagued me, but three weeks ago, when Sam and I moved into our forever home, it danced in my mind as I unpacked boxes in the kitchen.
The last of the crockery was in the cupboards when I first heard it. A bang, followed by a gentle hum.
‘Sam, is that you?’ I found him in the master bedroom, putting our bed together.
‘Is what me?’
‘The noise. Did you hear it?’
‘Ah, nup.’ He was hammering nails into the slats on the base. Our mattress was tilted against the window, blocking the light. It cast an eerie shadow over his face.
‘Huh. Weird,’ I said. I’d definitely heard something. It was probably Sam. Had to be him. But the question popped into my mind again. Was the house telling me its story? Were the walls itching to share the happenings of past owners? The good and the bad. Nope, I told myself, before turning to face the kitchen. On my way out the door, I asked Sam, ‘Drink?’
‘Great, Sarz, thanks.’
‘What do you fancy? Tea? Water? Coffee? Beer?’
‘Too early for a beer, you think?’
‘We’re moving so the usual rules don’t apply. I’ll bring it right to you.’
When I opened the fridge door, it happened again. This time it was whispering. A variety of voices, as if in conversation.
Then the doorbell chimed.
‘I’ll get it,’ I said. My voice was tinny. My mind crowded with concern. I was certain this time. Not Sam, no way. I’d heard ghosts. I shook the thought away as I approached the door. ‘It’ll just be Mum and Dad. They’re bringing around dinner for us all.’
Sam muffled his response as I got to the door. I opened it wide, to match the grin on my face.
‘Welcome!’ I said.
No one was on our doorstep. Instead, there was a small package. No label; hand-delivered then. I stepped out into the yard, and looked up and down our street, hopeful to catch a new neighbour, caught in an act of kindness.
‘Sarz,’ called Sam from the bedroom. ‘Ask your dad to come straight in here. I could use his help.’
Closing the door, confused and curious, I shouted back, ‘It’s not them. Just a delivery.’
‘Nice. Who from?’
Sam was about ready to put the mattress on the bed. ‘Here,’ I said, placing the package on the floor. ‘I’ll give you a hand.’
It weighed about 50kgs, our mattress. One of those fancy ones with an animal name. Funny how mattresses used to be named according to our backs’ needs, like Posturepedic, or associated with a good night’s sleep, SleepMaker. We huff and moan as we struggle to place our koala-duck-whatever-it-is on top of the slats.
‘Jesus.’ Sam had beads of sweat on his forehead. He stood with his hands on his hips. ‘Hey, where’s my beer?’ he asked, suddenly remembering I hadn’t brought it to him.
‘I wanna open this first,’ I said, eyeing the package. I ripped the box apart, tearing at the tape and cardboard.
‘What is it?’ Sam asked, once the box was open.
It was a sheet of paper. With a single typed word. I held it up for Sam.
‘What is it?’ he repeated.
‘A piece of paper.’ I turned it over to see if there was anything written on the other side.
‘What?’ Sam said. He was frowning as he wiped his hand over his sweaty forehead. ‘What does it say?’
My breath caught in my throat when it hit me. Icy coldness crept over every inch of my body.
‘Yeah, I’m listening. What does it say?’
‘No that’s just it. It says, listen.’
I sat on the bed, getting comfortable. ‘I think it’s the house, trying to tell us something.’
Sam scoffed. ‘Sure, Sarz.’ He sniffed. Walked out of the room, leaving me to the paper and my thoughts, and the sounds I’d heard earlier. ‘Guess I’ll get my own beer, then, shall I?’