“There’s an old spirit that occupies the mansion down the Hopperfily lane. Don’t even look up at the house or you will be possessed by that bloodthirsty ghost who had been wronged in his youth, being throttled to death by a friend in order to seize the mansion. The friend died soon after since the ghost has sworn to protect his home from prying eyes. And hence anyone who dares to look up into a window of the mansion will be punished.” That’s what the town folk said.
Of course I did not believe them when I came to town, and even more when I unlocked the mansion with its old keys and went to stay in it for the purpose of finding solitude for a few months to finish my novel. It was my ancestral house but had been abandoned for a few generations. This did not sit well with the townspeople and they would warn me every time they crossed me. Furthermore, I knew very well that I was disliked very much as I had to ignore the old women staring at my skin in disgust every time I appeared in ripped jeans. But I should have avoided excessive fashion as it finally took a toll on me and I caught a nasty cold. You see, it was that time of the year when the slow fireplaces burn in eerie cackles and cast sinister shadows across the tapestry. What good would the winter bring to someone like me who had to wrap the comforter around me alone and soothe my bitter cold all by myself in that mansion?
They told me the ghost was being kind to me because I had visited the town once when I was four and he grew to adore me since I reminded him of his daughter. Nevertheless, they always tried to talk me into leaving the town for my good. The ultimatum came when Mr.Hank swore he spotted the spirit when he slipped on the ice on the street in front of the mansion and momentarily glanced up to the third floor window catching a glimpse of a dark figure with matted hair and a terrible distorted face with dark black spots under his eyes. I did, in fact try to convince the people that what they had been claiming to spot was just me who had not showered for days trying to finish writing a chapter and stayed up all night since my cold had been bothering me. They did not believe me and deserted the street. That was all. I had not seen them in a few days and lost track of the days of the week and the time.
The empty hall on the third floor where I slept amplified the sound of my cough. It made me miss the small village hometown I belonged to and my family who must have been baking a delicious dinner. I tried to sleep but my cold did not let me. Tired out in the night, I must have fallen asleep when I heard a loud thud. I turned to glance at the window hoping for a bird to bring me a sense of companionship.
I was wrong. “It must have been my imagination,” I said and tried in vain to go back to bed but there it was again. I forced myself to accept the fact that I did have company. The nature of the company was unknown. I switched on the lights, picked up the lamp from the side table and tiptoed out of the room, my heart racing. I heard hurried footsteps. Was my family here to surprise me? In that moment I found the testimony to this desire of mine which I tried to deny in order to comfort myself into writing in solitude. Deep down I knew it couldn’t have been my family who sneaked into my house to startle me at midnight. I hope for that because my fear of the intruder had grown to such an extent that it became impossible to think coherently.
I became sure the muffled footsteps were coming from the second floor. In my nightdress and the lamp stretched out in my hands to strike my visitor lest he tried to bring me harm, I picked up my phone and descended the steps quietly dialing to the police. No sooner had the phone connected than a voice boomed- “Are you really calling in the cops on me? I wouldn’t try that if I were you.” In panic, I dropped the phone and caught a fleeting image of a tall heavily bearded man clad in a black robe when the light fell on him momentarily. Knowing he was next to me I couldn’t move glued to the spot. The phone connected. “This is the police, how may we-“
The man took a swift step forward and disconnected the call and then everything was silent again we stood together in the pitch dark neither saying a word. He decided to break it first-“There, I saved you the trouble,” He was referring to hanging up on the police.
“What do you want from here? Who are you? Take whatever you want and please go,” I managed to say. “Want from here!” he said derisively. “Then what do you want from me?” I asked. The man started to laugh and proceeded to switch on the lights. He handed me my phone.
“Alright, I am caught,” He said. “You can call the police but you will regret it. I usually never get caught.” I scanned his dirty outfit, messy hair, and boots. “Don’t you recognise me? I have known you since you were a little girl but I could never visit you. You have grown into a remarkable 19-year old.” For the first time I was terrified and for the first time I believed what the townspeople had said. I saw him pick up the boxes of goods he had picked up which belonged to the mansion. I had not even cared to sort them or clean up when I had moved in. “Take that and leave,” I said. “You are mistaken. I came here to give you these.” I reconsidered as an implausible explanation struck me. “Are you Santa Claus?”
“I don’t look like the pictures they draw, do I? Climbing down chimneys is fun but exhausting. Leaves all my clothes soiled,” he said, taking out his selfie camera.” I opened the box which contained tons of sweets that I was craving, stationery supplies for writing which I was running out of and the best Christmas gift to remember- a letter from my family. They were arriving the next day. “Merry Christmas!” he said.