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Fear of creaky floors
by Katerina Charisi
2016-02-22 10:37:09
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When I woke up next morning, it was still dark. Michael was snoring lightly next to me and the bed creaked as I moved. I put my hand softly on his shoulder to wake him up, but then I decided I wanted to go out and walk a little around. I put my shoes on and as I walked to the door I found out that the planks of the floor were so old that it was impossible to take a single step unnoticed. In the house silence the noise sounded awfully loud.

ly01_400_01I closed the room’s door behind me and carefully walked to the stairs. To the left was Bradford and Marianne’s bedroom, while the small bathroom was right next. The functioning part of the house was disappointingly small; only the two bedrooms, the bathroom and a kitchen that hardly fitted a table for all four of us was it all. I noticed a locked door at the end of the hallway, with planks nailed on it, blocking the passage to the rest of the house. Probably that was the burned part, I thought, but at the time I was too sleepy to puzzle my head with it. I thought Michael had said that they used that part of the house as storage room. Maybe he was referring to the ground floor. After all, it wouldn’t be easy to carry stuff up and down the stairs.

The house was silent downstairs as well; but with those creaking planks on the floor, I wouldn’t dare to wander around, so I just walked carefully and slowly, holding my breath in every step, until I reached the front door in relief, to find it locked. Damn, I should have guessed. Of course it would have been locked, everyone was still asleep. I stood right there with my back on the door, looking around, wondering what to do next. There was a chiffonier with a large mirror attached to it on the other side of the hall. Maybe Frances kept her keys there.

Ugly furniture, I said to myself as I moved closer to it. It was dark brown with black waves, carved twisted branches with a flower in every side and the mirror had a brownish color and small, black spots all over. Not a good mirror to put make up, I thought and swallowed a giggle as I pictured Marianne, who seemed to dress up and make up herself always like there was a ball going to take place in the manor every day.

True, a whole bunch of keys were there, I even saw Michael’s car keys there, but I had no idea which set of keys would be the one I was looking for. I stared at the sets trying to decide which ones to try first, and then I heard an awful creak from upstairs that almost made me jump. Totally sound un-proof, I thought and for a moment I wondered how many things Frances and Jacob could hear from upstairs in the nights. A door closed and steps went away, a door opened and closed, a key turned and then silence. Ok, now I was pretty sure that no one could take a single step in this house, without everybody else know what they were doing. A flush; door opened, door closed, steps. A light cough. Marianne. Good, I didn’t feel very comfortable with Bradford yet, he was so like his father, big, tight lipped, with strict looking face. I quit messing with the keys and went upstairs again. At least I could have a cup of coffee with Marianne.

I found her in the small kitchen, her back turned and her head almost out of the tiny window. I walked in and strangely I felt a solid ground under my feet, I looked down and noticed a brand new floor that didn’t make a sound. So, the kitchen would be the “safe place” I said to myself, and imagined long conversations and fights right there, as probably was the only place for having a little privacy. I wasn’t sure if I made that thought relieved or disappointed.

“Good morning”, I whispered and Marianne turned around with a frightened look on her face. A half burned cigarette fell from her fingers in the sink and quickly waved her hands and blew the smoke out of the window. I laughed. “It’s just me”, I said and raised my arms as surrendered. “Who are you hiding from?”

She exhaled heavily and laughed too. “God, you wake up early, don’t you? I don’t want to smoke in front of the others”, she explained and showed me the wet cigarette.


“I don’t smoke in the house”, she said again and grabbed two cups from the cupboard. “Coffee?”

I didn’t know what to say. She was a big girl, and it wasn’t that no one smoked in the house, everybody smoked as I had already found out the day before, especially after dinner. Now that I thought of it, I hadn’t noticed that Marianne didn’t. And if I had, I probably assumed that she didn’t smoke at all.

“Yes, please. First night, new bed, I can’t say that I slept very well”.

ly02_400Marianne put a new filter in the coffee machine and poured two large scoops of coffee.

“I know the feeling”, she said and took a white, porcelain vase in her hands. “When I first came here, it took me weeks to sleep normal and get used to all the creepy sounds. Sugar?”

Ah, the sounds, I thought to myself. Creepy indeed. I couldn’t tell yet which of the sounds were from the family members moving around, or from the house. Old houses are alive, said Michael once, and I didn’t think of it as something creepy then, but the experience was weird. I guess I would get used to it, sooner or later.

“Yes, two if you have sugar cubes; otherwise one full spoon. I think the worst is the floor”, I said and Marianne laughed again, making me laugh too.

“Yeah, the floor is something else. You know, Frances’s bedroom is right under your room”, she said and winked, smiling slyly. “So, you know, be quiet when you... You know”.

Great. Now I would have to think of Frances and Jacob staring at their ceiling with their eyes wide open while we, upstairs... Gosh, that was gross. Marianne poured coffee in the mugs and offered me the one, then sat on the chair next to me.

“You can smoke, don’t mind me. I don’t know why I don’t want to smoke when everybody does, I guess I’ve been here too long. When I first moved in with Bradford, I was just 18 and I was too shy to smoke in front of Jacob. Maybe I still can’t get over that habit”.

We drank our coffees without talking, I lighted my cigarette thinking that I wouldn’t let Jacob or anyone else make me feel ashamed for my own habits- after all, he was a heavy smoker, but I must admit that this smoke had a slightly bitter taste. There were too many things I had to get used to, I thought and for a moment I felt so insecure.


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