The House :
When I was four years old, and playing around in my new neighborhood, I had an experience that I would never forget for the rest of my life.
While walking down my street, I couldn’t help but notice a strange-looking house. It was made of mottled black and white bricks, with tall sharp spires reaching into the sky. Gray curtains were pressed against the windows, and the yard was filled with untended, dying trees. As I was walking past the house, I felt an inexplicable feeling in the pit of my stomach. I can’t explain it, even now, but it felt like a dark aura was pushing against the very soul of my body, dragging me to the house like a monster would toward its lair.
As I slowly began walking, I started to notice doves flying into the dead trees. The birds were driving themselves beak first into the trunks, and I could hear a snapping sound come from the doves’ necks as they fell to the ground. I started panicking, but my body didn’t respond. I tried shouting out, but my mouth wouldn’t move. I was moving ever so slowly toward the house. Finally, what seemed like eternity, I edged close enough to the door, and rang the doorbell. The sound that issued was like a scream from a ghost, so loud and terrible it pierced my eardrums, and put me in a state of terror unknown since I was born. I thought about all the wonderful moments I had in my life, the moments shared with my sister and brother. I thought about the joyful experiences I shared with my parents and grandparents. I thought about my ungratefulness toward my family, how I got myself into this terrible mess, and what I would do to get out of it. I started sobbing inside, and before I knew it, the door slowly creaked open. By this time I thought whatever inside was some sort of demon, ready to tear my insides out with its jagged teeth and roast them in the fireplace to eat. But in the house, most surprisingly, was a nice-looking old woman, dressed in white. She had a kindly old face, full of wrinkles, and pure white hair. Her face was glowing, and amiable smile gave me such warmness that the feeling in my stomach dissipated, and I was left in control of my own body again.
“Why hello there, dear,” the old woman crooned, “Do you live in this neighborhood? Why don’t you come on in? You look as though you’ve been scared out your wits!”
Without further ado, she gently took my shoulders and pushed me inside the house. The interior looked like something from a fairytale wonderland: The walls were painted with drawings of deer and horses that seemed to come to life before your very eyes. Candles scattered around lit the place with a cozy feeling. The entire house, it seems from where I stood, was filled with evergreen trees, and dark-green grass was growing beneath my shoes. I took a step forward, gaping with my mouth open at the sudden change of scenery.
“Yes, yes. I get that look from almost every child that passes through my house…” she mused as she hobbled into the kitchen. “Wait in the living room, my dear. I’ll be back with some freshly baked cookies!”
Although I was prone to listening to instructions, curiosity got the better of me. I decided to explore the house. And that decision saved my life.
Prowling around, I noticed a staircase that went upstairs. Quietly, I tiptoed to the second floor. Here, I noticed a long corridor that stretched to the other side of the house. Along it lay countless doors. I tried the first one, which was firmly locked shut. After walking a few steps, I somehow tripped, and that’s where I saw it. A door to my left, that was open with an infinitely small crack. A strong, unusual smell came from the room. I got up from my knees and pushed the door wide open. Inside were dead bodies of children. Each holding a half-eaten cookie.
I felt as though my gasp could be heard all across the house. With a beating heartbeat, I ran as quietly as I could along the corridor, and down the stairs. Just as I reached the door, a hand pressed firmly on my shoulder. I turned around to see the old woman, with large, blue eyes staring right into me.
“Why sweetie,” said the old lady, “Your cookies are done! You can’t leave until you’ve had a bite.”
I stammered, “N-no thanks. I have to g-go back home.” I shook off the woman’s hand and opened the door.
Suddenly, with the speed of a cheetah, she slammed the door shut with her left hand. The house darkened for a split second. “Take a cookie,” smiled the lady, holding a platter of them.
Left with no choice, I took one.
“Now eat it,” said the lady.
As I raised the cookie up to my mouth, I ran various scenarios through my head. Only one idea stuck. When you do brave things, that’s when it really matters.
With as much power as a four-old could muster, I threw my cookie right into the lady’s face. As she shrieked, I quickly opened the door, and ran like I never ran across the yard with the dead doves, until I reached the street of my neighborhood. From there, I sprinted back home, where I collapsed onto our front porch and started to weep.
When I told my parents what happened, they didn’t believe me. They insisted it was a daydream, and that I imagined the whole thing. They took me across to the street, much to my protest, to prove their point. And I could not prove them wrong, because that strange-looking house was not there anymore.