The House On Ivy Street
by Faye Sizemore
forum: The House On Ivy Street
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The House On Ivy Street


       J. Thomas Harris was a quiet little man and a steady worker. He could be seen every Sunday morning at the little white church on the corner of Ivy Lane. Most people knew him from his smile and happy 'hello' as he passed down the street on his way home each evening. He seemed to be a good neighbor who liked to stop and chat now and then and lend a hand if he could.

       Those things were why it was such a shock when one night, he just packed up his clothes and left his wife and his home, without saying a word to anyone. Mrs.Abigail Harris was just as shocked as anyone. She said she had never dreamed that she would wake up some morning and find J. Thomas gone. Gone, as though he had never been there, as he had taken all of his clothes and personal items.

       Abigail continued to live in the little house on Ivy Lane and go to her job and back home alone everyday. People felt sorry for her and tried to comfort her but she seemed to want to be left alone. After awhile she ceased going to church and was seldom seen anymore.

       Abigail was in her early nineties when I first laid eyes on her. She was a frail white haired nervous type old lady. The County Nurse had given me her name and address and sent me out to see her as Abigail now needed a caregiver and housekeeper.

       She seemed happy to have company although sometimes she forgot who I was or why I was there. I cooked and cleaned for her and a few years passed. I had moved in her spare room as Abigail had developed dementia and needed someone with her twenty-four hours a day in her home on Ivy Lane.

       The days passed by with little to do except for meals. Abigail slept all day. That was because she screamed all night.. She would fasten her eyes wide with fright on a painting of her husband that was on the wall at the foot of her bed and scream with all her might without hardly a break except to catch her breath. My job was becoming a real chore, not to mention being so wearing on my nerves.

       I hit on an idea. Since it was her missing husbands painted likeness that seemed to be her focus, perhaps if I moved it and she couldn`t see it anymore, her screaming would cease and make life easier for both of us.

       There was a beautiful landscape on the wall in the living room and I took it down and hurried to the bedroom to switch the paintings. On examaning the painting at the foot of her bed I found it to be a lifesize painting in a really heavy ornate gold plaster frame. I could not budge it from the wall so I decided give up for awhile.

       As I was tidying up the kitchen later, I happened to see Abigail`s neighbor, Mr. Johnson, out in his backyard. I went out and explained my dilema to him and he said he and his son would come over and take down the painting and carry it to the livng room for me.

       A little later they appeared at the kitchen door. Mr.Johnson stepped inside followed by his son, a younger version of himself. He said, very nervously, that it was the first time he had been in Abigail`s house since J. Thomas had left it. I told him how very much I appreciated their help.

       Leading the way into the old woman`s bedroom I pointed out the painting and told them not to worry about waking her because she slept soundly. Mr Johnson examined the painting and sent his son for tools as he said it must be screwed to the wall because it would not move.

       I returned to my chores in the kitchen and waited for them to be done. Just as I shook out the dishcloth and hung it over the rack and was turning around, the younger Mr. Johnson burst into the kitchen yelling for me to come quickly. Oh no, I thought, they had awaked Miss Abigail..

       I hurridly followed him into the bedroom and saw the old woman still sound asleep and Mr. Johnson leaning against the far wall , clutching his chest and making whimpering sounds. He gestured toward the painting and finally managed to tell me that it wasn`t a picture frame at all.. It was a closet door.

       Wonderingly, I swung the edge of the frame outward to reveal a small room and came face to face with J. Thomas Harris`s mummified grin, him sitting on stacks of neatly folded clothing, for over forty years, with a meat cleaver sunk into the side of his head...


copyright 2005 Faye Sizemore.

Faye Sizemore:

I am an imaginative grandmother, loose with pen in hand ,who just loves a mystery from the unknown.