Title: Family Legacy
Source: Thursday photo prompt: Monochrome #writephoto
“You sure you want to do this?” Teddy asked.
“Teddy, we’re here. We signed the papers. It’s ours.” Shelly ruffled his hair before giving his cheek a quick peck.
“They gave us these,” she said in a sing-song voice as she clanged a clump of skeleton keys and grinned.
“I’m just saying. It’s not too late. We can still sell it.”
“Don’t be silly. I can’t believe we found my family home. Besides, you bought the DNA test. If this doesn’t work,” Shelly paused and shrugged her shoulders, “then it’s your fault.” Shelly opened the car door and skipped to the front entrance.
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Teddy muttered as he followed.
None of this felt right. He should never have purchased the kit. He didn’t understand her sudden passion for genealogy. It started when her dad died, and her family became her primary focus. They had driven across the country visiting her long-lost cousins and withered aunts and uncles. Most had been gracious and welcoming. Others were less than thrilled to meet her.
It didn’t matter to Shelly. To her, they were her new best friends. When she exhausted her mother’s Christmas card list, she dug deeper, spending hours researching her ancestry on family finder websites.
He bought the test to show his support. She said it would help her trace her lineage. What she found was an old Tudor-style mansion built by some great, great somebody who lived generations ago. The best part was it was empty and for sale. She fell in love with the thought of living in her ‘ancestral home’. It didn’t matter to her one bit that the house had been vacant for years, the roof needed replacing and there were major structural issues.
Shelly reappeared outside and called for him to hurry. He didn’t want to go in. He wanted to run in the opposite direction. Instead, he grabbed two bags, painted a smile on his face and forged ahead.
Inside the house was dark, and it smelled old. He suspected mold, but Shelly laughed and flung the creaky door wide.
“We just need to air it out,” she said waving at a window. “Why don’t you open it? We’ll get a nice cross breeze.”
Teddy rolled the suitcases to one side and set to work. It was stuck. He played and pushed and wiggled and the casement squeaked in protest. A man’s image stared back at him as he thrust his palm hard against the top of the frame. Startled, he heard a sickening crack. The old pane gave way under the pressure and his hand slipped past the glass. Searing pain radiated through his body. He screamed and his face contorted in agony.
“Damn, damn, damn.”
Teddy tried to remain still and pried his eyes open to assess the damage. Red rivulets streaked the broken piece embedded in his wrist and he used his fingers to dislodge the shard from the frame. He slowly extracted himself, holding the section steady, so he didn’t cause more suffering. In the background, Shelly was screaming.
He turned to study her as horror spread across her face. She stopped and dug her phone from her pocket. Behind her stood the man he had seen before the accident. She dialed 911, put it on speaker and stepped to his left side.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“Teddy you don’t look good. How about if you sit?” Shelly grabbed his elbow and led him to a chair next to the wall. The line connected, and she gave the operator the details.
Teddy continued watching the stranger.
“You shouldn’t have come.”
“We just bought the place,” Teddy tried to explain.
“Yes, hon we did. They’re sending help,” Shelly interrupted.
“I know who you are. You’re not welcome here. Your kind doesn’t belong,” he said moving closer.
Terror washed through him, as he realized he was talking to a ghost. The man resembled the house, a monochrome of gray, whose best days had past.
“You must go or suffer more dire consequences for violating the family truce.”
“What? What truce?” Teddy detected the slightest slur in his speech and wondered why the room was pitching.
“The agreement struck years ago, to keep the peace by keeping our families apart. I don’t want to kill you, but unless you leave, I will have no other choice.”
Teddy glanced at the glass protruding from his wrist then back at the man.
“You did this?”
“Consider it a warning.”
Sirens wailed in the distance and Shelly was still on the phone with someone. The room was growing dark. Odd for midday.
“They’re coming,” Teddy said.
Shelly’s face loomed in front of him, “I’m gonna let them in. Will you be ok for a minute?”
Teddy’s gaze focused on the ghost again. He was silent but nodded.
“Yeah. Just hurry.” Shelly patted his knee and disappeared.
“Don’t hurt her. I love her.”
“I would never harm her, she’s family.”
The paramedics rushed to his side. They started an IV and administer drugs for the pain. The man hovered as they worked and moved him to a stretcher.
“This will require several stitches, but it looks like you might have missed anything major,” one medic told him.
“Next time you wouldn’t be as lucky. I promise,” the man said as they wheeled him to the ambulance.
“Don’t worry. I won’t be back,” Teddy called to him.
Teddy and Shelly split not long after the accident. She kept the house and Teddy kept his word.
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer