House of Sighs

House of Sighs

By:  Aaron Dries  Completed
Language: English
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This award-winning, psychological experience is back in print, and includes the exclusive sequel The Sound of his Bones Breaking, a novella that will leave you truly shaken. Board for free. But the cost might be your life. ©️ Crystal Lake Publishing

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152 Chapters
HOUSE OF SIGHS
HOUSE OF SIGHSPROLOGUE:It Begins“There is only one Evil: Disunity.”—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin”ONE HUNDRED AND FOURSuzie Marten was ten years old when she died.She lived to dance. Spinning herself sick in search of rhythm, pirouetting until her toes hurt in the ballet shoes her father bought. They were a perfect fit—and let’s not forget the pink ribbon laces. She scuffed and broke the soles of those shoes with a knife spirited from the kitchen drawer, just don’t tell Mum. Yes, Suzie adored them with the pure love only children can muster, or sustain, for inanimate things. And she was wearing them the day she came unsewn.November 12th, 1995.To Suzie, Sunday mornings were the final love-hate pit stop between freedom and being a ‘big girl’. Suzie despised school and feared her raven-faced teacher, a man who sometimes got so mad he threw things. She imagined h
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PART ONE - One Hundred and Three
“PART ONE:Boarding“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which,if persevered in, they must lead . . . ”—Charles Dickens”ONE HUNDRED AND THREE:James Bridge“We have two cemeteries and no hospitals—so drive carefully”, read the sign coming into James Bridge. The population at the time was marked at a firm 2022.Outsiders built homes in its vacant lots, leaving neighbors scratching their heads, wondering what spell The Bridge cast over those not born there. Surrounded by vineyards and two hours northwest of Sydney, it was a highway town passed through on the way to somewhere better.Bobby Deakins, the local mail carrier, laughed when he read books about people in small communities knowing everyone and their business. “Not true of The Bridge,” he often said to his son, a boy defined by naivety. Their town was its own schoolyard—with cliques and bullies, princesses and nerds. People didn’t ming
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One Hundred and Two:
ONE HUNDRED AND TWO:Liz“The girl’s nothing but skin and bone.” Laughter, the electric crackle of the wicker chair under his weight. “I’ve seen scarecrows with more stuffing.” Liz shied away, dug her toes into the lawn and closed her eyes. In the dark—the smell of grass and cooked onions, the wind growling until her father’s voice faded away.Safe.At fourteen, her mother measured Liz at five feet against the kitchen doorframe. “God’s stretching you like taffy,” Reggie said, tucking the permanent marker into her blouse pocket. “I’m going to have to put a brick on your head to slow you down.” A shy smile on Liz’s face as her mother ruffled her bangs. “Out you go.” She gestured towards the back door, a hand on the seat of her daughter’s overalls to get her moving, and within seconds Liz was outside with two tennis rackets in hand. She gave one to her younger brother.“Here you go, weed.”“That ain’t my name,” he spat back. “It’s Jed and you know it.”“Yeah well, ‘ain’t’ isn’t a r
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One Hundred and One:
ONE HUNDRED AND ONE:SarahSarah Carr ran down her hallway and stopped before a mirror to check her cropped, spiked hair. “Pushing sixty-three but I don’t look a day over forty-five.” Her laughter was a sad, husky sound in this house. Self-affirmations like these got her through the day.Flat shoes thumped the floorboards as she searched for the keys. Sarah considered herself, and with a certain amount of pride, as a hip nanna in high-waisted jeans. The kind of nanna her grandchildren could approach with anything. Nobody would deny her open-mindedness, maybe even calling her a little different by Bridge standards—yet still she wore those shoes. Always. Those sensible flats, as reliable and well-worn as her wisdom.“Do unto others as you would have them do unto yourself,” she told her grandkids, their round, innocent faces staring up at her. “And those aren’t my words.” It was one of her recycled lines, one that left her feeling a little flat, a little well-worn herself. Though she
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One Hundred:
ONE HUNDRED:PeterAs far as Peter Ditton was concerned, a little sun was always a little sun too much, so he settled for whatever shade the STOP HERE sign granted. His fair features were burning already. Australian sunshine knew no mercy, and although clouds would come, the sky above remained a clear bowl of hot blue for now.Peter shielded his eyes from the red cloud of dust stirred by a passing truck, the first vehicle to swish past in over an hour. He’d mistaken the weekly route for the weekend’s and had expected the 243 bus to Maitland earlier than this. Oh, well.A notebook in hand. The spine cracked and a sliver of twine marking his page.The plan: skip church, visit a friend, together go to a creative writing and poetry class at the Rotary club in town, and pour out their souls to the laughter of slot machines chewing pensions in the adjoining room. The room stank of beer and old paper. Sometimes the organizers provided tea. Nice in a way.Embarrassment almost always over
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Ninety-Nine:
NINETY-NINE:SteveSteve Brown wanted to scream.Instead, he focused on catching his breath. The skinny kid next to him at the bus stop—who looked like he’d been too busy doodling his notebook instead of some schoolgirl like other normal kids his age—hadn’t reacted. Good. His cool was in check.Poor shit, Steve thought. He’s better off.Or maybe he knows something about women that I don’t.Although he doubted that.Steve’s thoughts turned back to his wife. She had the wonderful ability of confusing him into anger, which hurt because he loved her like the world was ending. No wonder he wanted to bellow frustrations into the new day.Bev appeared okay with him quitting his job as janitor at the James Bridge Public School. He gave his reasons, citing differences with the principal and harassment in the workplace. Bev nodded along, understanding.Or so he thought.In reality, he’d been fired—caught smoking pot under the year-six dormitory where the kids stored their bicycles. “Yo
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Ninety-Eight:
NINETY-EIGHT:Diana and JuliaNot so long ago, nothing more than a worn patch of grass by the road signaled the stop. Two people sat on the new bus bench now, quiet and unmoving, handbags clutched in their laps.Diana Savage appeared younger than her twenty-six years. Hair pulled back in a bun, face covered in a film of sunscreen lotion. She despised putting it on—it felt like chicken grease. Nevertheless, burning was worse. She would happily trade this moment, her job, her future in Australia, for one more look at Astoria, Oregon. Home. She wanted to fish the Colombia River and laugh at the tourists walking up the private driveway, cameras clicking, to where The Goonies had been filmed. She missed sitting near the E. Morning Basin at the end of Thirty-Sixth Street, smoking cigarettes and skipping class.Home wasn’t dead trees and inescapable heat. Hell, Summer was still nigh.In her world, yellow fire hydrants crouched on every corner. Pastel chalet houses. Pontiacs and GMC truck
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Ninety-Seven:
NINETY-SEVEN:MichaelMichael Delaney used to be fat. Not puppy-padding fat—bursting-frankfurts-in-a-boiling-pot fat. He remembered gym class and swimming lessons. All the thin guys could be divided into one of two groups: those who looked but didn’t comment, and those who looked and commented with enthusiasm.Tubby Bitch.Fat Mumma.Fanny Tits.The silent ones were the worst. They just stared.Fat kids are like alcoholics, he now knew. They always have excuses.“I’m not big, just big boned,” he said. Michael could fool himself but he couldn’t fool the skinny kids. “I’m fat. Butterball fat,” he would tell the person staring back at him in the mirror, smart enough to know that no fat kid ever got thin unless they started calling themselves what they really were.“I’m Santa-Claus fat. I’m I-make-you-sick fat. I’m I-make-myself-sick fat.”He was something else also, but that was harder to say.Another memory: crying after swimming class, hating having to strip down to his Speed
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PART TWO - Ninety-Six
“PART TWO:On the Bus“ . . . there are no accidents. Nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen.”—William S. Burroughs”NINETY-SIXTrees along the highway like the skeletons of contortionists hired to distract commuters from the rising temperature outside. Bushfires devastated coastal New South Wales earlier that year, resulting in the death of four people. Over three hundred houses were lost. Many thought it nothing but blind luck that James Bridge escaped damage. Its townsfolk sat drinking beer on their front lawns, watching the skies roll brown as others less fortunate burned to death. Denial was the best distraction because bad things didn’t happen in places like this. Not in The Bridge.Airwaves still brimmed with news of Anna Wood, the Sydney girl who died in October from water intoxication after taking Ecstasy. There was a sense that something bad was seething in the cities, something which was yet to touch
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Ninety-Five:
NINETY-FIVE:The Gun7:40 am, November 12th, 1995A few hours before picking up her final passenger, Liz put a gun in her mouth with hands so sweaty the handle went slick. She gagged and forced vomit down. Throat aflame. Teeth clattered against the barrel of the Kel-Tec P11 9 mm pistol, a sound telling her brain, Wait a minute—I’m not dead.Yet.White noise. Liz tried to blink the noise away but every time her eyes closed, her vision worsened.***Outside, her father, Wes, tended to his garden. His trowel stabbed the earth and sliced a worm in two, matching halves arcing in silent agony amongst the weeds.Her brother in the shed plowed at the punching bag strung from the rafters on a chain. Jed’s knuckles started to bleed.Reggie, her mother, was in the living room of their house. A half-finished bundle of crochet sat at her feet. Needles imbedded in red yarn.On the other side of James Bridge, ten-year-old Suzie Marten woke to the sound of her mother coming home after a dogw
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