A Winter’s Tale

A ghost story. Possibly. You decide.

“Winter Wonder” by MCS@flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

We moved, the wife and I, into this house eleven years ago. It is a prosaic little domicile, having been built in 1990, and it is situated equidistant between the railway station, the hospital and the County Records Office. It is modest, but it suits us well enough.

It has been a happy home for us, and one blissfully free of any manifestations of the supernatural such as sepulchral groans in the night, the rattling of chains, or small domestic objects being whanged about the joint by hands invisible.

Nor indeed is there any reason why it would be the focus of  paranormal activity. The house sits on a quietly suburban lane which has never known any but the most domestic of tragedies, and the plot of land that it was built upon was never an old Indian burial ground nor any other sacred site connected with ancient occult forces which, if disturbed, might prove inimical to man.

I know this to be so because I am interested enough in my surroundings to have done a little research at the CRO, and can confirm that the place has left barely any discernable mark on the historical record. Although the plot was once occupied by the last factory in Britain to make dodgem cars, but this is unlikely to be germane to our story.

As I say, we had moved into the house eleven years ago during the summer, and by the time winter rolled around we had settled in and had made ourselves very comfortable.

One evening I was on my own, Mrs B being away for the night. It was a night very much such as this; a drear, dreich December night with gusts of wind that plucked at the casements and squalls of rain that rattled like handfuls of pebbles against the window panes.

It was also a work night so by half past ten, or it may have been nearer a quarter to eleven, I was making my leisurely way to bed. I padded around and tidied up and made sure all the lights were off, and I washed the crocks in the kitchen sink, filled up the kettle and got everything ready for the morning. All done, I had just put my foot on the first step of the stair when the doorbell rang.

I opened the front door and there stood, just out of the pool of illumination from the porch lamp, a diminutive figure. That of a young girl of perhaps eight or nine years of age, I would say. She was dressed in green wellington boots, a knee-length pleated tartan skirt and a mustard yellow duffel coat with the hood drawn up. The hood and the general gloom conspired so that I could not make out her features with any clarity.

“Hello,” she said. “Who are you?” Her voice was light and high pitched.

I am a curmudgeonly old chap, and one not given to dishing out my personal info to anybody who cares to turn up at my gaff, so instead I asked her what her name was.

“Emily” she said, with great simplicity.

“Well, Emily” I replied, “What can I do for you?”

She gave a girlish giggle, turned away and walked casually back towards the lane. I stepped back and began to shut the front door. But then I paused, opened the door fully again and walked the two or three paces to where I could see up and down the full length of our little street. It was silent and deserted.

Our road is well lit, and  although not long it would take me a brisk three or four minutes to walk from one end to the other. Emily had only been out of my sight for a few seconds and I would have expected to be able to see her somewhere along the pavement in whichever direction she had gone, but she was not there.

To be sure, there were plenty of places she could have hidden if she were thus minded. Behind a hedge or a low wall or even under one of the scattered cars parked along the street, there were plenty of places for her to hide if she had wanted to. But somehow I did not think that she had.

I stood there pondering for a moment, in the buffeting wind and the rain and the dark. Then I turned resolutely on my heel, shut and locked the front door behind me, turned full on every light in the house and slept that night with my bedside lamp on.

And there you have it, the tale is told. There were no after-effects, repercussions or consequences. It was not a precursor or a foreshadowing, nor a harbinger of some Gothic doom. It was nothing at all more than whatever it may seem to be. The doorbell rang, I spoke with a little girl and then she vanished. That is all. Finis.

But pleased be advised that should you ever find yourself on my doorstep late at night, unless you are there by prior appointment do not bother ringing the bell. For if not notified by email, text or phone I will not be answering the front door no matter how much it rings.

Good day to you.

© bobo 2021