There was a single light still shining in the house. And it bothered her. Her great grandmother had just died last week, and Dani had inherited the house. It wasn’t that Dani and her great grandmother were close - they had only met a handful of times - but her grandparents had passed away, her uncle moved across the world to be with his fiance and her family in Russia, her father had died of a heart attack, and her mother was currently in the hospital. The only person left in their family who was both old enough to take care of the house and physically capable of doing so was Dani.
There used to be more lights still shining in the home, a lightbulb for each person’s life. Within the lightbulbs, the memories pertaining to an individual person were stored. Dani’s great grandmother was the keeper of the house, destined to stay there forever to watch over the lights. If she touched them, she could look into any point of someone’s life within her bloodline. For example, if she touched her uncle’s light, she could see the day he went to kindergarten for the first time, when he joined the baseball team, and when he got engaged. It’s all a predetermined system that everyone in Dani’s family was forced to participate in. When her father and her uncle were born, two lights suddenly turned on in the old attic. When her father died, one blacked out, and when her uncle moved away, his light slowly faded, a reminder that he was forever lost to his family due to the huge distance and communication barriers.
Although she wanted to run back to her old apartment and ask to stay there again instead, or go back to the hospital to visit her mom again, Dani knew that she had to face the house sooner or later. She knew that her fear of living there was completely irrational, and that getting a free establishment was a huge gift, and yet there it was. The thin prickle of fear that laced her thoughts as she gripped the door handle, reluctant to venture inside.
Dani took a deep breath, and then proceeded to turn the knob.
As Dani walked into the home after opening the front door, she shuddered. There were thousands and thousands of photographs hanging on the walls. The furniture was mismatched and old, smelling of mothballs and flowery perfume. The home looked dingy and unkempt overall, even though a cleaning service visited every 3 days for years. All of it reminded her too much of the freaky side of her family that she wished to forget.
Dropping her bags in the spare bedroom (because she didn’t feel comfortable sleeping in the bedroom that her dead relative had slept in), Dani went downstairs and proceeded to strip the walls of the house. They made her head spin.
For the next several hours Dani spent trying to clean up the house. She had shoved the chairs and randomly placed entables that she was getting rid of into the corner of the living room, which essentially meant that everything excluding a tiny wooden coffee table had been crammed into the space. The kitchen was an absolute mess. It was adorned with cobwebs, grease stains, and a thick coating of dust and grime over the countertops. After deciding that nothing could avoid a thorough cleaning, she removed all of the chipped china and bent silverware from the cabinets before wiping down absolutely everything. Dani removed all of the broken (regular) light bulbs from their sockets and exchanged them with fresh ones. And, like she had originally planned, she took all of the photographs off of the walls. She let out a breath of air that she didn’t realize she was holding in until then when she took down the last picture. They were finally gone.
It was only until it was starting to turn into morning again did Dani realize that she had been cleaning the whole night. Satisfied with her work for the time being, she went to bed, passing out as soon as her head hit the pillows.
Dani soon understood why her grandmother kept up the photos, however.
When she woke up in the early afternoon, Dani ran downstairs to continue working on the house. But, as soon as she did, she saw that the pictures had miraculously reappeared on the old walls. It was as if she hadn’t taken them down at all.
The furniture was still in its place. The kitchen was still void of utensils and plates, yet clean. Her grandmother’s bedroom still remained person-less. And yet the walls were still plastered and overwhelmed with photographs.
Dani tried to ignore it at first. She ditched all of the old furniture and shopped for new couches, cups, plates, desks, tables, etc. She started hanging new artwork. She even began painting over all the other walls. But soon the pictures would creep into her thoughts again, and she knew that she could only avoid them for so long.
She tried to rip them up. That didn’t work. Nor did shredding them in a shredder, painting over them, burning them in a fireplace, or simply trying to give them away. The photos kept coming back, attaching themselves to that same wall morning after morning. No sooner were they gone would they come back.
Dani was forced to admit to herself that they were there to stay. She tried to pretend that she was alright with having the pictures come back night after night for the past few months. But inside, she wasn’t having it.
Since she had no other ideas, Dani grabbed the rickety ladder that folded up into the ceiling and pulled it down. She pushed up the thin trapdoor that concealed the old attic and began to ascend the ladder. She hated the feeling of the crumbling wood beneath her palms and the way that it splintered at the slightest touch. She grimaced as she felt at the floor of the attic with her pen hand. It felt damp to her, like dew on a carpet of grass. Whatever it was that she was touching, it had no place in her home.
She hefted herself all the way up into the attic, sliding the trapdoor shut behind her. It fell into place silently, not making the tiniest bit of sound. It envolked a self-fulfilling moment of suspense, and Dani didn’t like it one bit.
Suddenly the room seemed a little brighter, as if something knew she had arrived. As she turned around, Dani saw her bulb, and she cringed. All the members of her family knew about the lights, and yet they all went to extreme measures to avoid them altogether. Dani had taken after the trend a long time ago, after her father had died. The light had blacked out only a day before he died, a heads-up that his life would be ending soon. Even though her father’s light had just been predicting his fate, not explicitly killing him, Dani still felt that the lightbulbs were responsible for the death of her dad. That was when she had made up her mind; she would have no part of her family’s magical ties, no matter what. And yet, here she was, standing in the same room as the bulb that could see her destiny.
She couldn’t do it. Seeing the bulb again made her want to cry. As Dani turned around, trying to go back down the ladder, the room lit up. Suddenly, she wasn’t in control of her legs anymore. She kept walking towards the lightbulb against her will. Dani soon closed the gap between herself and the bulb, which was hanging above her head. Then she lost control of her right arm. With her outstretched, possessed hand reaching forwards, her left arm tried to yank the other away, but it was too late. Contact had been achieved already.
With that, Dani saw a little girl that was maybe 4 or 5. With a start, she realized that it was her. The girl had the same dark hair, green-brown eyes, and quirked smile, but she seemed somewhat happier. She was in the same house, up in the attic. Dani recognized this memory as the time when she first learned about the lights. She frowned at the memory. Thinking about how she used to love the prospect of magic made her feel terrible. She felt like she had been betraying her father by enjoying such things. And then the memory shifted.
She was in 4th grade, and she was arguing with a boy in her class about whether or not her great grandmother could do magic. Dani snapped that her relative could, of course. The boy didn’t believe her. Nor did anybody else.
Then she was in 6th grade, and then in 8th grade, and then in 10th grade. In each situation, she saw how much she had changed from someone who used to enjoy the unusual to someone who hated it. The day when she visited the hospital and realized that her father had passed away was the last date Dani saw. Or so she thought. As she turned away, the room began to look dim and somewhat normal again. She sighed, relieved and very shaken up. But then the last bit was shown to her. It was of a few months ago, when she had first moved in. Dani tore up the house and ‘fixed’ it. The few childhood memories that she had made in the house were both forgotten and irrelevant.
It was then that Dani began to sob on the floor. It wasn’t the house’s fault, or that of the lights, that her father had died, her uncle had moved away, and that her grandmother hadn’t ever cleaned up. She was just looking for something to blame, and it was convenient to blame magic. But she couldn’t hide from it anymore. It was a part of the house, and a part of her.
As she descended the attic ladder and walked across the house to her room, she passed the wall of photographs. Dani smiled a small, sad smile. They no longer bothered her.
In the morning, as she woke up and started moving towards the kitchen to make breakfast, she passed the wall. She quickly glanced at it and kept strutting forwards, but then she back tracked to get a better look. The pictures were finally gone, save for one. It was a picture of her parents and of herself. Dani grinned. It was a sign that things were changing, and that the house was officially hers to look after. With that settled, she proceeded to go make herself some food, and then to go on a jog, and then to go visit her mother. It was a routine that was familiar and comforting, and that kept her in a mental line. But maybe it was also time to go visit her father’s grave again. She’d had enough of living in the past.
**********************************************************************************Dani lived there for 40 years, before it was given to her children, and then her grandchildren. She moved into a new home that was only a few miles away from where her family lived, and made sure to visit them - and the new lights that shone in the attic - often. It wasn’t just because she liked to do this - although she did. No, it was also because it was her responsibility to show her descendants that magic in their foreign, modern world was to be protected, and not scorned or ignored like she herself used to do. As long as there were still lights in the attic, there would still be hope of a better future for her family yet.
So, what did you all think? Was it any good? Like this or comment to let me know!