A note of business: Blogger has a new habit of preventing me from commenting - either replying to comments or adding my own. It did this once before, but only lasted a few days. I have been unable to reply to your comments on the last two Fiction Fridays now, and don't know when it will work again. Just want you to know, I read your comments and intend to reply whenever the powers that be allow me that skill once again.
Aunt Marla was the key to everything. Jaden wasn't sure how she knew, but as she looked at her Great-Aunt's portrait hanging in the main hall of her parents' house, she was sure that it was so.
She had been away at school when Aunt Marla passed, and although she had gone to the funeral, this was her first time visiting her parents since they saw each other at the memorial across the state. Last night she'd had a terrible time sleeping in the guest room. This was not her house, as her dad inherited the old family homestead from Aunt Marla. He was the oldest of his generation, so it was fitting.
Jaden's mom came down the stairs like a cat, making Jaden jump by greeting her with a hand on the shoulder. "Good morning, hon'. Early for you, isn't it?" She turned down the hall to the kitchen, making a one word suggestion: "Coffee?"
Jaden gave a silent salute to Aunt Marla and turned to follow her mom to the kitchen. She'd never woken before her mom when they lived in the same house. It was disconcerting to see her tousled hair, drooping, sleepy eyes accentuating how old her mother had grown in the past years. She moved like an automaton going through the motions of grinding coffee, filling the reservoir with water, lining the basket and pouring in the grounds before pressing the button. Jaden was mesmerized, and instinctively knew not to speak yet.
Minutes later, coffee in hand, Jaden asked, "What do you know of Aunt Marla?"
"I know she had an aversion to redecorating. Can you get a load of these ancient cabinets?"
That wasn't what Jaden meant, but this was her dad's aunt, so Mom's answer wasn't a surprise. "Dad never said anything?"
"She was superstitious. A lot of crazy amulets and ... trinkets and garbage like that from her husband's travels, that she thought had some kind of meaning or something." She sipped on her coffee and Jaden watched as the caffeine brought a light of consciousness into her mom's eyes. "I met her once or twice, but always excused myself when she started talking about the crazy stuff."
"Hmm... Maybe I'll ask Dad about her."
"Why so curious? Just because this house is weird?"
"Weird. That's a word." Jaden watched her mom carefully over her mug as she took a long drink of hot coffee. "Noisy. That's another word." Jaden had barely slept, hearing noises from the attic, and as she went downstairs with her insomnia, different noises coming from the basement. "Maybe it's just old, but yeah, there's something weird about this house."
Could they be natural sounds of wind blowing through the attic and some old boiler clanking in the basement? Sure, they could, but they didn't sound that way to Jaden. Too intentional. Too directed. Aunt Marla was the key, but she'd have to wait for her dad to help her find the right lock to fit the key.
It's FICTION FRIDAY!
Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.