It was a new house and yet an old house. It sat at the end of a dead end street beneath the spreading branches of an orange maple tree. It had a deep back yard that would be dappled with sunshine in the summer, four stories— if one counted the basement and the finished attic— and a long drive that separated it from the street.
It was far too much house for Kathleen, but ever since she was a child, she had loved the look of double doors recessed on a wide front porch, of stained glass windows, and curved staircases with oak balustrades, of a library with bookshelves lining every wall and framing the windows. When the agent took her through it, she found it charming that there were stenciled height markers on the kitchen archway or that here and there a dash marred the old plaster walls where some clunky article of furniture used to sit.
Walking into the house, she felt as if— should she buy it— she would be cladding herself in history. A false history, perhaps— not her own. But it would be a history nonetheless.
In essence, she would be buying a beautiful, empty shell— a blank page with someone else’s sketches shading the margines.
Kathleen signed the papers and accepted the keys on a Friday, the best day to close on a house. She drove her clunky Toyota Tercel down the dead end street, parked in the long drive, retrieved her one laundry hamper of possessions out of the backseat, and stomped inside to open all the windows and let the ghosts out.
© 2022 Katie Baker