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The next morning, Teddy awoke alone in the bedroom. Her dad would be on his way to pick her up, so she slipped out of bed to get dressed. She packed her bag, made the bed, and headed downstairs. She weaved through the familiar dusty maze to the kitchen, smelling the phantom-smell of bacon and toast wafting from the doorway. But she knew in her heart that there would be no bacon or toast in the kitchen, and no Grandma Rose or Mr. Poole either.

But just to be sure, she peaked inside. It was bright and airy and warm as ever. Everything was as it had been left the night before. But it was empty. She wandered the house for signs of life, though she knew there hadn't been any for quite some time. 

She found no Henry the mind-reading parrot, no Snickers the fat black cat. 

No Isabelle, the weeping girl, no Mr. Poole the odd, lonely butler.

And no Grandma Rose, the strange old bat she loved so much.

She returned to the kitchen. The house was eerily quiet, but at least the kitchen was bright and warm. She looked around, trying to memorize the space. And that's when she saw it: an old, worn leather journal sitting on the dining table. A sealed envelope, "Theodora" written in beautiful cursive on the front, sat propped up in plain sight beside it. She took the envelope and inspected the journal: it was full of handwritten notes and drawn diagrams she didn't understand.

Slowly, a large black spider descended from the ceiling on a thread directly in front of her face. It nearly touched her nose as it glided down. Reflexively, Teddy jumped back. She was startled again by the honk of a car just outside the house. 

It was time to go home. But first...

Teddy held out her palms, cupping her hands to create a platform for the creature. It was large, its hairy legs stretched from the far end of one little hand to the far end of the other. Gently, as she had seen Isabelle do just the night before, she bent down and let the spider skitter away safely on the floor.

Teddy put the letter and the journal in her duffel bag, lifted it over her shoulder, and left the house. Her dad was sitting in the car on the curb, talking into a cell phone and waving for her to join him for their trip home. She took a deep breath, feeling a heavy sadness she had never felt in her life. 

But it was a sadness mixed with something else: the feeling of loss, of warmth, of love and of magic.

As she got into the car, she looked up at the strange, old house that had been her home for the weekend. She hadn't been outside since she got there, and again she saw the face. Two windows for eyes, one door for a mouth. But now she knew that the house wasn't just a face. 

Within the walls of Grandma's house, behind that ghoulish face, there was life: a heart that beats in the kitchen, a brain that broods in the upstairs bedroom and a soul that lives on in the basement. 

As they drove away, Teddy was certain that the house was alive.

The Face in the HouseWhere stories live. Discover now