Like the kitchen and living room, the bedrooms are an eerie shrine to the past residents of the house.
They enter the first room. It is small, a twin bed is pushed against one wall, and a narrow three-drawer dresser is in the corner next to the closet door. The bed is made too neatly to have been done by the child resident, no doubt done by the boy's mother. The scratched and dented dresser is marred further by childish stickers in various stages of having been picked at and pealed partially off. A shelf holds various boyhood treasures. There is a Spiderman poster on the wall. Various toys and action figures that would be unknown to the kids today are scattered haphazardly.
While the realtor rambles on about the usefulness of this small room, the buyer walks over to the window, looking out at the view. The curtains hang moulding, stained yellow, and brittle with age. They look like they may fall apart if touched. The grime on the window makes the view hazy.
A chill slices up his spine as he stares at the woods.
Just as he turns away, there is the suggestion of movement in his peripheral vision. He turns back to the window quickly. There is nothing there.
Huh?" He turns to the realtor.
"Ha-ha, you seemed kind of off in Lala land there." The realtor smiles awkwardly. "I was asking; are you married? Do you have kids? With three bedrooms this could be a great starter," he pauses, realizing he fell into his automatic sales pitch. "Yeah, sorry."
The buyer nods. He looks down, pressing against the floor with his foot, the board bending beneath the pressure, spongy. He'd noticed the odd floorboard like that as they walked through the house.
"I'm not entirely confident these floors can hold up."
"Let's move on to the other rooms." The realtor rushes to the next room, leaving him to follow.
The other boy's room is much the same, minus the stickers on the dresser. The room is a bit larger and it is also the classic older brother room, probably the favored son. Trophies sit on the shelf for baseball and soccer, and the room is filled with paraphernalia of a boy older than the occupant of the other bedroom.
The realtor watches him inspect the room, wishing he would hurry up. He's wasting a lot of time on this and probably won't make much off the sale, if this guy even buys it.
"This would be Kevin's room, the older boy," the realtor says.
"Who?" The buyer looks past some clothes hanging in the closet, checking out the inside walls of the closet. They have that unpleasant odor clothes get after sitting too long, reminiscent of rot and mildew. He makes no move to touch them.
"The boys, Kevin and Jesse. This would be Kevin's room, the older boy."
The buyer moves to the window. Like the other rooms, these curtains are stained yellow with age and brittle, stinking of mildew. The grimy window gives a view of the house next door.
He sees the round moon of a pale face vanish into the darkness of the house next door and the flutter of the curtain falling back into place. It happens so quick he almost doubts he saw it.
Satisfied the buyer has seen enough, the realtor moves on, trying to pick up the pace.
"This is the master bedroom." He's already in the hallway, heading for the last bedroom.
With a last quick glance out the window to the house next door, the buyer turns and follows.
The master bedroom is possibly the worst of the shrine bedrooms.
He looks around, taking it all in. He half expects the boys' mother to walk in at any moment and ask them why they are there.
"She lived here for years after her husband walked out on her, you said?"
"Yes, I'm not sure how many though." The realtor stops to pick at items on the dresser, turning away from them without interest. "Years, months, could be either. She never cleaned out his stuff. You know, the big goodbye, when they clear out all the ex's stuff. She never said goodbye."
"I guess she never said goodbye to any of them."
"I guess not."
The bedroom is not just a shrine to the lost boys. It is a shrine to all the woman lost. Her boys, her family, her marriage. All of her husband's things are there too, the items laid out as if he never left. He can almost hear them in the house. Her husband's voice coming from the living room, the mother in the kitchen baking that cake, the boys in the yard.
Movement in the back in his peripheral vision. Did he see the boys? Something else? Is it a premonition?
YOU ARE READING
It is an ordinary forest, as far as spooky looking woods go, filled mostly with craggy twisted oak trees, their gnarled branches reaching like skeletal fingers and deeply wrinkled cracked-bark covered trunks. A dark secret... Well, you will have to...