Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Tale of Two Sisters by Katherine Harbour

   "It's a bad house, Lily."
   "It isn't. It just looks bad."
   The rambling Queen Anne, with its moss-green exterior and ivy-choked front yard, was a source of fascination and speculation for the neighborhood kids. It had been sitting, abandoned, in the wooded lot on the corner, forever. On Halloween day, the house seemed spookier than usual, looming, dark and gaunt against the sky streaked with neon orange and lavender. Their dad had allowed them from five to six to trick or treat, as long as they stayed on this block. So they'd done the rounds. Now their plastic pumpkins were filled with candy and they'd engaged with a few other trick-or-treaters who'd admired their homemade costumes. Finn was Little Red Riding Hood with a bloody plastic hatchet and a skull face, and Lily was a glamorous, dead Snow White with puncture marks on her neck.
   "There's a light on." Lily, who was always longing for something adventurous, pointed. She swished her cape. "So someone's there."
   "It's not light. It's just the sun reflecting off the glass."
   "Oh, come on, Finn. We haven't done one scary and fun thing tonight and Dad won't let us watch Halloween. You are such a chicken."
   "No I'm not. See you later, alligator." Finn stalked to the ivy-tangled gate and shoved it open. Her crimson velour cloak was vivid against the foliage as she marched up the path onto the veranda shrouded in creepers that reminded her of the shed skins of snakes.
   "Finn. Wait--" Lily pushed at the gate that had swung shut, frowned because it was stuck.
   As Finn ran up the steps, the sun slid behind the trees.
   And the house's door slowly opened. Lily saw a hallway dark but for that single lamp like a tiny, alien sun, and hissed. "Finn! Come back here."
   But Finn, on the veranda, was peering into the house.
   From within, Lily thought she heard a woman singing softly. She didn't know why that singing made her shove at the gate with frantic force.
   Then her little sister stepped into the house.
   "Finn!" Lily swore. She dropped her pumpkin and clambered over the gate.
   She fell. Her chin struck the cracked cement and her teeth sank into her lower lip. As she spit blood from her mouth, the door to the house slammed closed. And Lily fiercely felt the house had just become her enemy.

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