There was something about my house in winters.
It was awfully quiet, and the thing about quiet houses is that you can hear almost anything if you pay attention and sometimes, even if you didn’t. It was when I’d arrived for Christmas break that I was forced to pay attention to the itty bitty, seemingly nondescript noises the house made. Well, the house…and its inhabitants.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents were by no means quiet, but when the doors are all shut, and the lights are turned off, you begin to notice things. Things that weren’t necessarily noticeable during the day, but not completely inconspicuous either.
I have always been taught to keep an open mind for things that escape my senses, especially sight. What a wonderful thing, this sight. So, when I glimpsed someone with their hand on the window pane this afternoon as I washed the dishes, I assumed it was my sister. It took me fifteen minutes to realize there was no one there, despite having heard someone humming in agreement every so often. After a sudden jolt seeing empty space where I had assumed someone’s presence, I was left blinking in surprise.
The feeling was – mostly – forgotten as other activities took over my working memory. It had been a while since I’d been back here and determination took over any remaining shreds of lethargy that had accumulated over stressful academic work. It was time to let my hair down in one of the best ways I knew; go down to the art “studio” my father had set up for me ages ago. I use the term studio here loosely; it was mostly just a space filled with old, discarded furniture and tidbits from the previous residents when we’d bought the place some ten years ago. It was a lovely home, and at that moment grandma hadn’t wanted to throw out the stuff already in place and now that she had departed from this world, the general consensus showed no inclination towards removing things anytime soon.
It was a comfortable space. This day however, it just felt…cold, the kind a season has very little to do with. I could’ve attributed it to the dust that had accumulated in my absence, or the sheets covering the various odd pieces of furniture and old gifts nobody had looked at, but all of that could be fixed. With my hair already tied up, feet automatically moving towards the cleaning supplies, the place would be tidied up in no time. It was when I picked up the broom that I noticed the one peculiar occurrence.
The grandfather clock was ticking.
It has been in the house since forever and I had never heard it tick before, yet here it was, working on its own. I checked my own watch and the clock matched the exact timing on it. Silly as it might’ve been, I couldn’t brush it off. Even as I cleaned, it almost felt as if the clock was observing me and with every movement it made, it seemed to take something from me. What it was taking, I did not know, but I was out of the place as soon as I was done. I felt ridiculous as my mother emerged in the small reading room we had made when my older brother had become estranged but maybe that was the comfort of having a mother who loved you.
Having stood in front of the grandfather clock had instilled a misplaced sense of terror into me. Like a coward, I had fled the room.