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Ethereal Equinox

A bit of a spooky tale to mark the fall equinox. Being a hostess can be exhausting and monotonous, particularly when facing a house full of guests. When the doldrums call, look to new opportunities.

Does anyone really look forward to a house full of guests? Mae wondered to herself. Every year like clockwork the ragtag group would appear, and she would have to place each one in their own room. She had never been overly excited about being a hostess, but she also never had much choice in the matter either.

And so, every year they came. Most of the time all together, but sometimes a straggler here or there.

Mae wrapped her cardigan tighter around her, scratched the top of Sahira’s head, and took a sip of her freshly prepared coffee. Sahira mewed in response and then went back to licking her paws. Sahira’s golden eyes stood out from her raven-colored body like two golden orbs.

Well, you are always ready for the season, Mae thought as she watched the grooming continue. The first couple years, Mae had diligently prepared herself and the house. But eventually, the sheen of newness and the pride of rising to the level of hostess had worn off.

Today marked the fall equinox, and the guests would arrive at sunset. As always, they would stay for two months, more or less. Good thing Mae worked from home; it would be quite difficult to maintain order if she didn’t.

Mae’s house was like any other on the block. Two story, Victorian, with wrought iron fencing in the front. The obligatory pumpkins and gourds in an array of colors adorned the front steps. Small, large, smooth, and covered in warts--they all had a place. The ones with a long, twisted stem or covered in warts tended to be her favorite. Leaves of rust and burning embers covered the lawn, scattered here and there by a passing breeze.

Well maintained, it never gave the impression of anything other than quaint. The only thing that could be considered odd was that Mae lived alone, with a cat, in such a large house. Her chestnut hair and green eyes were alluring, but she never encouraged nor sought companionship. Too much to have to explain, she had reasoned. And besides, Sahira was company enough.

The grandfather clock in the hall struck the hour. Any minute now they would arrive. Mae opened the front door in anticipation. A few leaves crinkled as they blew into the foyer. In the moment Mae was distracted by the intrusion of leaves, they appeared.

A gaggle of varying ages and personalities, they nonetheless traveled together. Mae addressed them one by one, directing them to their rooms.

“Caroline, your room is upstairs, the first room on the left. Yes, all of your dolls have been untouched and cannot wait for you to play with them,” Mae directed. Caroline, no more than eight years old, had her nightgown on, and her long flax colored-hair hung loosely down her back. She ran up the stairs, each footstep pounding the stairs beneath her, in the end sounding like a herd of elephants. A small ball fell from Caroline’s pocket and bounced down the stairs. One…single…step…at…a...time. Mae would have to talk to her about running in the house.

Next up was George, his wailing could not be mistaken for any other. Poor thing, the old man suffered from so many maladies. As his mouth widened in another exclamation of pain, Mae interrupted before he could loosen it from the depths of his being. “George, dear. How nice to see you again! Your room is on the main level, down the hall. I thought best to avoid stairs in your current state. We did some minor upgrades, so you now have an adjustable bed. You can raise and lower both the top and bottom portion, and the firmness of the mattress is also customizable. I know, the advances these days are truly amazing!” Mae said. Off he limped, one step and then a long drag of the other.

Carmen pushed her way to the front. Impeccably dressed for the season’s ball, her ballgown swirled as she moved effortlessly. Mae had to sigh at her beauty, timeless and classy. A rose behind her ear paired to match her ruby red lipstick. The right side of her face could be on the cover of any fashion magazine. The left side, showing her skull in profile, was covered in painted flowers in brilliant colors of blue, green, pink, and orange. “Carmen, que linda! I can’t take my eyes off you! Fresh makeup and some new perfumes are on the dresser. We placed you in the northeast room upstairs. I know how you love making an entrance,” Mae said as she gestured to the stairs. With a flounce, Carmen’s ethereal presence floated past. Mae swore she heard the faint sound of an orchestra as she passed by.

“And of course, Thomas. Studious as always. You’ll have plenty of privacy in the attic, and the window offers a wide view of the street. You will be able to gaze at your leisure,” Mae said as she closed the front door. Thomas was no more than twenty, and always so severe looking. A loner, that one. One of his books dropped to the floor with a loud THUMP! He picked it up and rifled through the pages as he departed to the attic without a word or nod to Mae.

A scratching noise followed by a low howl came from outside. Mae opened the door and looked down. “Oh Bruno, I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you there. You have a cozy bed by the fireplace, and a nice big bone too!” The hound wagged his tail in response and trotted off to find his treat. Mae closed the door for the final time.

Sahira hissed from her perch on a table’s ledge as Bruno entered the front room. Mae sighed, “I know Sahira. You don’t like to share, but it’s only two months. Once All Hallow’s Eve ends, it’s back to just you and me. No more ghosts or haunts. Hey, at least we haven’t had a banshee. They sent the banshees to Sophia’s cabin. Probably better that way, honestly, being out in the forest. No one to be bothered with all that screeching and screaming.”

Sahira meowed nice and loud, and Mae smiled saying, “Start the countdown. Maybe next year I’ll be promoted to management, and we can forget all about hosting. On to bigger and better things.” Mae’s emerald eyes sparkled as she adjusted her hair in the mirror. Whatever it was she lacked, she more than made up for in ambition.

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2 comentarios

Charlotte A. Cason
Charlotte A. Cason
25 sept 2022

Cute story, has a lot of possibilities for continuing, and for endings. Is Mae a hostess for a B&B or is this family coming home. What a great start for a story!

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Holly Bills
Holly Bills
26 sept 2022
Contestando a

Glad you liked it! Mae is a witch who hosts ghosts for two months each year. Each guest is a different ghost trope, but gets their own room and haunts in their own way. A bit of a different take on the usual ghost story (and typical guest story)...but also goes to show hosting duties can wear out anyone. I may make another installment of this one, I think there are possibilities. 🤔👻 A ghostly B&B...

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