Thursday, February 21, 2008

Entry #12

Night Owls
by Jade Leone Blackwater


Golden flames snapped, awakening the old stone house on the hill. Winter was deep in meditation on Winnifred’s first night at Stillwood Farm. Her landlady had left an envelope containing a heavy key and a note: "Make yourself at home. Will return tomorrow morning."

Inside, the great room was empty excepting an assortment of chairs lining the wall. Drafts whispered from the keyholes. For warmth Winnifred began to unpack. Soft plank floors groaned as she wandered the house, singing: "…upon the hilltop alone, wandering by moonlight…"

Outside the moon eclipsed silver and rose when a sudden, brisk knock resounded. Winnifred curiously approached and opened the front door to find a short, old gentleman in a grey waistcoat. He mumbled as he entered: "there now, fire’s started… here now, come let’s a chair…"

Several men and women followed from the shadows, pulling chairs near the hearth. Ignoring Winnifred, the group proceeded to murmur together for nearly an hour. As full moonlight reemerged the visitors rose and walked out into the night. Screech owls whinnied in the darkness: "…whhhooowollowollowollowollowooo…"

Mystified, tired, and alone, Winnifred retired to bed and slept late into the morning. An envelope waited on the doorstep with a new note from the landlady: "We call this place Lonely Hill since it’s just you and the old tree. Enjoy the solitude; no one ever visits Lonely Hill."

25 comments:

Remiman said...

Enchanting story. Seems the landlady is an absentee landlord. ;)
rel

Ello said...

I liked this story, but am I right in thinking it was a ghost story? That's how I took it and really enjoyed it.

ChristineEldin said...

I also thought it was a ghost story!
Really enjoyed it!

Beth said...

Yes, like that Nicole Kidman film. Ghosts that don't realize they're dead. I love classic literature though and this had a classic feel, good English, I loved that. I felt at home.

pjd said...

This is very nicely written. I especially like the drafts whispering from the keyholes.

DBA Lehane said...

Leaves a chill as cold as the draughts blowing down off Lonely Hill.

Vesper said...

How very interesting! Nicely written with a chilling magical feel. Some great images and thoughts:
Winter was deep in meditation...
Drafts whispered from the keyholes.
...

I liked it! :-)

paisley said...

excellent imagery and i love the visitors... what a pleasant stay will be had by all at lonely hill....

sandra seamans said...

I liked this! And you left me wanting more. This could so easily open up into a longer story.

Missy said...

Yes, I agree with sandra - a perfect teaser, but you leave us with a complete scene. I am intrigued by the peaceful spectors!

Veggies.... said...

This is terrific JL. Very evocative, beautifully written.

Sarah Hina said...

This story had such a different flavor, and I really enjoyed it. Very nicely written.

I could feel the draftiness of this old place, and the tiredness of its nocturnal visitors. Very evocative tale.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Lovely and deeply evocative piece. Mysterious and slightly spooky. Very captivating. I very much enjoyed reading it.

BernardL said...

Beth's classic comment had it just right.

SzélsőFa said...

Were they not owls?
Anyway, it definitely has a nice fabric.

bluesugarpoet said...

Ghosts? Werewolves? A cultic ritual, perhaps? There are several ways you could take this story, and that left me wanting to read more too. Nicely done!

JLB said...

Thank you everyone for such encouraging feedback!

Remiman, absentee landlady is right! I think there's more to do with that character.

Ello, yes, I'm glad that the "ghost story" element came through effectively. It was a struggle to keep this one to the bare bones, no pun intended.

Christine, indeed, and thank you!

Beth, thank you for your thoughts. I like that you felt the "at home" sensation - if I do more with this story, I was the old place to be as inviting as it is disturbing!

PJD, thanks! The drafts-through-the-keyholes is actually inspired by my current home (with key holes big enough to see through).

DBA, thank you!

Vesper, thank you, I'm pleased you enjoyed it!

Paisley, I wanted so much to tell more about the visitors! Perhaps in the next chapter...

Sandra, many thanks. I'm glad you feel this story could grow into something more - I have many ideas for further development.

Missy, I'm glad you feel that the scene is "complete" - that's always a challenge with such short pieces!

Geraldine, thanks for your support, as always. Again, I'm glad you joined in the fun!

Sarah, thank you - it's always nice to know that I'm able to balance description with action.

Abs. Vanilla, I'm pleased my story works so well for you - thank you for the compliments!

BernardL, I'm truly flattered. It's nice when a piece *clicks*.

SzélsőFa, that's a good question! Owls and other creatures as so easily connected with the world of spirits, there are many ways that they can be read into the story and the characters.

BlueSugarPoet, thank you very much. I love knowing that this story works for so many readers!

Thanks again for reading, and for all the kind feedback!

Hoodie said...

My favorite kind of ghost story; classy, well-paced and intelligently written. "Winter was deep in meditation." Brilliant. Kudos

Aerin said...

ditto what Hoodie said, since I couldn't have said it better. Very classy.

bekbek said...

Jade, I have experienced this kind of event, as a non-superstitious person that witnessed something that later, after daylight feedback from "the homeowners," became "my ghost story." I liked this story a great deal, but I think it might be just a little stronger if you played up that moment, found a way to make the "visions" seem ordinary and only later be revealed as mystical. It is a wonderful way to experience the strangeness of the world.

Nicely done. I did feel as if I could smell the quiet of the place, if that makes any sense.

raine said...

Ohhh, a nice, creepy chill up the back of my neck!
Very good!

Terri said...

Your description of her surroundings is superb - I felt as if I was there with her.
And I love the story :-)

jason evans said...

I like the Victorian ghost story feel. I have to admit that those stories are still magical to me. They made me want to write. Thanks for reminding me!

Aine said...

Yay-- a ghost story! I like how it is warm and mysterious at the same time. I want to spend a night there. If you ever expand this into a novel, please let us know-- I want to read it!!

Veggies.... said...

What a great idea Aine,I thought that as well. I'd also love to read a novel, based on this short story by Jade.