Congratulations to Gianna Boyer (7) for her winning entry “18 Broad Street.” This is the second year Boyer has won the contest! We are pleased to publish her work below.
18 Broad Street by Gianna Boyer
The engine murmured in my ears, and the road was packed full of cars. I could see a sign about a hundred feet away. It was wooden and read “Entering Salem” with a blue logo in the center. A certain type of electricity coursed through my veins while passing the sign. I still can’t identify if it was excitement or nervousness of moving to a new town, but something just made me feel uneasy.
My eyes scanned the street looking for a dark house projecting the numbers 18 on the porch column. I stopped my vehicle at an old home which was not at all what I pictured. The wind rustled through my coily hair. Leaves of all colors littered the trees and the dirt trail laying in front of me. I shoved my hands into my pockets and squinted at the sun. My foot kicked the truck door shut behind me. The crisp autumn air filled my lungs.
The patches of grass were thick and brown, and half-dead mums surrounded the walkway in wooden pots. Dark wood covered the house up until the black door. A note was taped to it.
I opened up the paper not knowing who it was from or for. It was just said help. It was probably just some kids trying to scare me. I crumpled it up into my jean pocket and under the tattered welcome mat, I found the key, just as I was told. My hand grasped the doorknob, but the door wasn’t locked, it just flew right open. Chills rolled down my body as I walked in. It was alright inside, minus the dark green paint color and the weird feeling growing inside of me. The ping of my phone made me jump.
My mom texted me, “How’s the house? Send pictures. Hope it’s not haunted…I’m joking.”
I tapped the camera button and took a picture. When I went to admire it, I realized there was a weird green glow, probably from the walls and two neon circles in the middle. I shrugged, sure that it was just the sun’s reflection. Suddenly, a loud noise startled me from behind. I opened the door to find a couple, probably in their early 40’s holding a brown basket wrapped with shiny plastic.
“Welcome to the neighborhood,” The woman cheered, her arms outstretched in front of her holding the gift.
“Oh gee thanks,” I replied, accepting it.
It was pretty basic. A jar of peach jam, fuzzy socks, hot chocolate mix, chocolate, and a map.
“My name is Tina and this is Bill,” she said.
“Where did you move from?” Bill asked, while moving his fingers.
There was seriousness in his voice.
“Oh, a newcomer,” he retorted, “Do you know about the house?”
“Oh umm…no I don’t believe I’ve heard anything except it was built in the late 1600s.”
“Hun, don’t spook her,” Tina whispered to Bill, “She just moved here, give her time to settle in.”
“No, she needs to know, it is her house.”
“Know what?” I asked.
“We really must be going now,” Tina added, “It was nice meeting you.”
I waved and they left. What’s in that house that’s so bad? Why can’t they tell me? It’s probably just a bunch of folklore and myth. I know about the witch trials, but that can’t be real. Can it? Questions started racing through my mind. Are the witches really haunting this house? Is it haunted? What about all the ghost stories in this town? Are they real? I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Don’t worry, Lara, you will be fine. Deep breath in…Are ghosts really real?…Deep breath out…Is that what that weird lighting was? No, Bill is just another prankster…or was he?
I lay on the air mattress that night, wide awake. I can’t think about anything other than the words Bill had spoken. Even the slightest noise made me jump. I forced my eyelids shut and ignored the fear inside of me. The cold air of the night was seeping underneath my blanket, but I didn’t care.
Shrieks rang out, screaming for help. A familiar green glow came into view and I could feel the drafty, emptiness. Orbs flew towards my face. I was drenched in sweat and tears.
I only received about four hours of sleep. My eyes were outlined with dark bags and my stomach felt completely empty. I changed my clothes and decided to get out of the house and go explore town. I need a distraction from last night. Was it just a dream? Was it all in my imagination? My mom texted me again.
“How was the first night? Cozy? Did you sleep well?”
My fingers typed back, “Not very well, just nervousness.”
I hopped into my truck and drove a few blocks down to the Salem Museum. A big dark brick castle stood in front of me. Two bare trees guarded the walkway and so did a large copper statue. A massive cathedral type window decorated the exterior along with a wooden sign engraved in yellow that said, “Salem Witch Museum.”
Inside was a long hall with light floors that was covered with pictures and artifacts.
“Hello, welcome to the Salem Witch Museum,” A lady greeted me.
“Hi, I am looking for stories of the witches coming back and haunting the older townhomes.”
“Oh yes, that section is down the hall to the left. Hope you find what you’re looking for,”
I had no clue what I would find in that aisle. Hopefully, there was nothing in my house, but you can never be too sure. I came across a gray wall with lots of newspapers and articles framed. In big black letters, the wall said, “They will come back.” My shoulders tightened and my jaw clenched.
I found one article about this girl who kept seeing glowing orbs roaming through her house and screams followed her into the night. Everyone thought that she was going mad. My eyes quickly skimmed for the address; it was 18 Broad Street.
I immediately left the museum and decided to grab a cup of coffee next door to soothe my nerves. The menu had all different types of drinks, but I chose straight black. They handed me the cup and I took three gulps. The bitter taste spread through my mouth.
That night whenever I tried to go to sleep, something strange filled me. It was a bit of courage and fear. My mind turned black and my eyelids closed.
A soft glowing figure laid before me. Her hair was pulled up into a tight bun and a long black dress flowed down to her ankles.
“I was innocent!” She screeched, “Don’t hang me, help! I’m not a witch!”
Another figure took her place, but she was wearing a black bonnet.
“No, stop drowning me! I’ve had enough! Mercy! I’m not a witch!”
Her hands clasped around my body. Her eyes screamed for help. I just stared at her in terror. She started sobbing, and I still just stood there. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I saw her get dragged into the river. Men and women screamed around her shouting inhumane things at her. Then, four women got hung right next to her.
Everything changed after that. I saw the first woman again healing an ill child with plants. The second woman appeared helping a woman give birth. My mind was filled with hundreds of women helping people and then they were executed because of witchcraft. It was awful. All I could do was stand there, and then I screamed.