The Yellow House

Until I was about five, a family of multiple children lived next door. Their house was a poor kept, two-bedroom bungalow with no basement. One of my earliest memories are of the children coming out of the house to play in the summer. They must have finished breakfast and their mother shooed them out the door for the day. A herd of kids emerged, running out the door and jumping off the porch. How many? I have no idea, but it seemed like the clown car at the circus, they just kept coming.

Before school my kindergarten year a developer bought the house and the horde moved elsewhere. The house then sat empty for a number of years, falling farther and farther in disrepair. The window on the north side of my bedroom looked out upon this house and I watched as the dirty yellow siding faded more and more. It eventually became somewhat of a tan color with yellow still showing through in spots the sun could not reach.

It had been  empty for three years and wasn’t a thought to me, it was just the empty house next door, One night something awoke me and turning in my bed I looked out the window to see a flickering light within the house and in the window across from me a face. The face could have been considered horrifying, especially to a child my age. But the eyes, frown line and mouth put me at ease. I knew that whatever this creature was, it meant me no harm. I rolled over and went back to sleep.

The next day I ventured to the front door of the house and opening it, stood on the threshold looking in on the living room. There was a raw, diseased, animalistic smell in the room and it was evident that something or someone had been utilizing this room. It seemed cleaner and more organized than it should. In one corner though I noticed a small pile of animal bones. Mice, squirrels, rabbits and other creatures made up the pile. 

I returned home and casually snuck a can of meat from the cupboard, opened it and placed it on a saucer. Returning to the house I placed in just inside the door, which I closed and headed back home.

The next day after school I took a can of tuna to the house in hopes the meat had been eaten. The saucer was empty except for a polished bone that was attached to a leather strap making a rustic necklace. I felt joy that my gift had been excepted and even traded for. I pocketed the necklace and left the tuna.

Over the next few months, I continued to see the occasional flickering light in the house and every few days would leave food inside the door. The return gifts continued and included mundane items and some treasures. I was most excited by receiving an Indian Head Penny, a Buffalo Nickel, a broken pocket knife and the grandest, an army medal. I took it to the library and after researching it I found that it was a Army Civil War era medal from Kilpatrick’s Calvary Corps.

Over time I noticed that the room seemed to become cleaner, though dust covered surfaces. The sickly smell slowly dispersed which led me to believe the occupant’s illness most be improving. 

The rumor around the neighborhood was that the house was haunted and none of the neighborhood children dared venture near it. I of course living next to the building added fire to those rumors to help protect my new friend.

That July fourth, my friends and I ate watermelon and chased each other though the yard using sparklers as swords. After darkness had fallen and my friends had left, I lay in the yard looking into the clear sky. I felt a presence near my head and knew that my friend was there. He laid near my head. I didn’t look in his direction but was comforted by his presence. After a while I dozed in the cool evening and when I awoke, I knew he was gone.

That August a bulldozer was unloaded into the yard of the house and the process of demolition began. In my heart I knew that he was well and had moved on.

Roy Richard January 2023

Copyright Roy Richard

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