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“Mom, I don’t want to move.” I told her for the thousandth time.
“Maggie that’s enough. I know you don’t want to move, but I can’t pass this
up.” My mother looked like she was close to tears so I decided to back off.
“I know.” I said and began helping her load boxes into the worn out chevy.
“Whose house is this again?” I asked as we drove away from our home for
the last time.
“It’s our house now,” she said emphatically “but it belonged to my great
aunt Rebecca if that’s what you mean.” She said.
“I’m sorry if I’m a little skeptical about a letter in the mail from some relative
I’ve never even met giving you a house.” I said trying not to cry.
“She died Maggie, she didn’t just give me a house, and I never met her
either. She was my dad’s aunt, he died when I was six after that I was
never very close with any of his family. I am her last remaining relative.”
I didn’t have anything else to say so I turned up the radio and tried to think
about anything especially what I was leaving, my home my friends, Mike.
It only took one day to get to New Salem Massachusetts from New York,
but it felt like the other side of the world. It didn’t take long to get all of our
boxes out of the car and into the dusty old house. We hadn’t had very
much in out little apartment. It didn’t matter much though the house was
“Well it looks like she was a bit of a pack-rat.” My mother said picking up
one of the many newspapers and magazines piled throughout the room.”
“Well Megs I guess you should probably go pick yourself out a room. I still
can’t believe we’re going to have four bedrooms.” I wanted to say
something sarcastic about us not needing four bedrooms for two people,
but my mom looked too happy for me to ruin it. So, I picked up a box and
walked upstairs, the staircase led to a long hallway with seven heavy
wooden doors leading off of it, one of the four bedrooms was on the first
floor so I had absolutely no idea what we were supposed to do with all of
these other rooms. The first room was gigantic, we could have fit our entire
apartment inside of it. I assumed this must be the master bedroom and left
it for my mom to find later. Two of the doors led only to closets, and one
was to my new bathroom. My mother’s room had its own bathroom leading
off from inside of it. After that was a home office that looked like its
occupant had just up and left out of nowhere. An empty coffee cup sat next
to an open newspaper dated August 25, 1941 a pair of glasses sat on top
of the paper. The next room was a nursery, a mural of Noah’s ark was
painted across one wall. An old wooden rocking chair sat in the corner next
to a crib. This room, like all the rest, was dusty but not nearly as dusty as
the rest. I didn’t know why but this was obviously the only room my great
great aunt had felt the need to take care of. There was only one room left
now and I really hoped it had a bed I could use, we had already given the
downstairs room over to my mothers jewelry making, and I did not want to
be the one moving boxes and boxes of beads up the stairs. The door didn’t
want to open when I pushed on it, as if it hadn’t been touched in a long
time. When the door finally gave I was immediately relieved to see a good
sized bed in the middle of the room. This was the dustiest room I had seen,
it was obvious that no one had come into this room in decades. The
blankets were twisted off of the bed as if someone had just been pulled out
of it. The walls were covered with black and white pictures of the same dark
haired girl at varying ages, I wondered if this was Rebecca. I surveyed the
mess that was my new room, everything was on the floor. I realized it
wasn’t terrible, it desperately needed to be cleaned and it could use a new
coat of paint. But I had hardwood floors, a canopy bed, a walk in closet,
and a room three times the size of my old room. Smiling I plopped down
onto my new bed, and raised a cloud of dust around me. Sighing, my brief
moment of happiness extinguished, I went to get my sheets and blanket out
of my bags. It wasn’t hard to strip the stained old sheets off of the bed,
most of them were on the floor anyway. I was glad to see the mattress was
in good condition despite its age. That was when I noticed the odd little
object sticking out from between the mattress and the bed frame, it was a
leather bound book. The cover didn’t have anything on it except for a year
“Maggie,” I could hear my mom walking down the hallway.
“In here mom.” I shouted back instinctually hiding the book.
“Hey, Maggie. Forget something?” My mom asked putting my last box on
the floor by the door.
“Thanks mom.” I said stepping in front of the area where the book was
hidden as if I needed to conceal it further.
“You’re welcome hon,” she said. “You should probably get ready for bed,
first day at your new school tomorrow.” With that terrible bit of news she left
me alone to freak out about starting at a brand new school the next day.
School was awful. No one was outwardly mean but no one was nice either.
Everyone just stared at me like I was some kind of museum exhibit. I
walked down to lunch alone and went to sit at the only empty table.
“Can I sit with you?” I looked up to see a preppy girl from my math class
staring at me. She wasn’t the type of person I usually hung out with but I
was in no position to turn down any kind of company. Not with all of my
friends, and Mike back in New York, and especially not when I planned on
never speaking to any of them again. They couldn’t know.
“Sure.” I told her, she sat down but didn’t touch her food, she just stared at
“I’m Kayla.” She said after awhile.
“Maggie,” I answered back.
“I know,” she said almost immediately. “You just moved into Rebecca
Keenan’s house right on main street the old victorian right?” She said very
“Ye-,” I started to answer but she cut over me.
“That’s so cool. Do you guys still have all of her things in there? Have you
gone through it? Did you find any bodies?.” She looked at me expectantly
so I figured it was safe to open my mouth.
“Um, I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I said and her face fell.
“Oh.” She said apparently looking for some way to recover.
“So no one even told you about them?” She looked confused.
“Who?” Suddenly at the prospect of getting to tell me her story she was
much more excited.
“The Keenans, the people that lived in the house before you. I still can’t
believe how quickly they sold that house. After what happened you wouldn’t
think anyone would want it.” She was starting to ramble and I really needed
to know what she was talking about.
“Keenan is my last name to, we didn’t buy the house my mom inherited it.” I
“It’s your own family and you don’t even know?” She sounded disbelieving.
“Look Mrs. Rebecca Keenan, the woman whose house you’re now living in,
she died in your house.” She looked at me for a reaction.
“I figured that much, she didn’t have any close family and it doesn’t look like
she left the house much.” I told her, trying to play off how much what she
said freaked me out.
“She didn’t have any close family left you mean.”
“What do you mean?” I asked leaning forward despite myself.
“Rebecca was married you know,” she said. “Her husbands name was
Matthew and they had one daughter, Sarah. Well, they were kind of
important around here back in the 20’s they owned half the town.” She
paused to take a bite of her food.
“Well what happened to them,” I prompted, “ why doesn’t this Sarah chick
have the house right now instead of us?”
“So then the great depression happened and your family lost all of its
money, pity to my family worked for yours they lost their jobs.” She
continued on as if I hadn’t said anything. “The only thing you managed to
hold onto was that house. Well, it looked like they were going to recover at
first. The Keenans got really involved in the church, trying to pump up their
good reputations and Sarah got engaged to some rich guy from out of town
who wanted to join forces with a nice respectable family. Everyone figured
it would be no time before they were back on top again. Then,. . .” But I
didn’t get to find out what happened because just then the bell rang.
“Look, I want to hear the rest. So you can come to my house after school if
you want you already know where it is.” I thought she was going to fall off
“You’re going to let me come over? I get to see the inside of Rebecca’s
“If you want.” I said.
“I’ll be there.” She said determinedly. “Don’t worry about that at all.”
“So do you want to see my room?” I asked Kayla, she had met me at my
locker right after school and then walked with me all the way home.
“Upstairs?” She asked suddenly unsure.
“Yeah, why are you afraid to go upstairs in Rebecca’s house?” I asked.
“No,” she said resentfully. “Let’s go.” So we went up to my new room.
“Sorry it’s such a mess. We just got here last night, I haven’t had a chance
to clean anything up.” I turned to look at Kayla and saw how wide her eyes
“Oh my God.” She said.
“What?” I asked, wondering if she was really going to make a big deal
about my room being a mess.
“This must have been her room.” She said in awe.
“Sarah’s room.” She said.
“Oh.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say I didn’t understand why this
was such a big deal.
“You know they never even let the police in to investigate.” She said.
“Something about the family was so important, blah blah blah, it would
never fly now. Not with my dad in charge of the police force. That’s why I
know so much, he let me read the file. Which isn’t as bad as it seems, I
mean the whole town knows about it already, I’ve just always been really
interested in it. I can’t believe all of her stuff is still in here, it doesn’t look
like it’s even been touched, other than your stuff of course. Oh,” she looked
at me as she took a breath. “I forgot I’m supposed to finish the story.” She
looked at me apologetically.
“I don’t really understand anything you just said but okay.” I sat down on the
“Well everyone thought your family was going to be okay when Sarah got
married. But then out of nowhere Sarah disappeared she was only 16 like
us. This is her room it has to be all of these pictures are of her, there was
one in her file so I recognized her when we walked in here.” She paused for
a second to look around at all of the pictures on the wall she had been
“You look just like her you know.” She said looking at me.
“I don’t know about that, she’s like my third cousin or something. What
happened to her?” I asked.
“Well, you still look like her. As for what happened to her no one knows.
The investigation was really more of a joke everyone just assumed she had
run away and the family lost everything. Then one month after she
disappeared her father died.”
“How?” I asked.
“He was walking home from the church one night when someone shot him
in the back of the head.” She said excitedly.
“Who did it?” I was entranced by the story.
“No one knows that either.” We were quiet for a little while. I was absorbing
the story while she investigated the room. Occasionally she would hold
something up and ask me if I had tampered with it. She was very glad that I
had touched almost nothing in the room.
“Can I ask you a favor?” She asked after a little while.
“What?” I asked.
“Could I investigate your house a little? No one has ever been able to and I
really want to be a detective, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
“Okay, I don’t see why not.” I told her.
“Sweet, thank you so much. Now, have you found anything since you’ve
been here that was odd.
“I completely forgot. I found a diary.” I pulled the book back out from its
“Can I look at that?” I gave the book over to Kayla, she was more excited
about this than I was.
“A half hour later she looked up. Oh my God.” She said. “Sarah was
“What?” I couldn’t believe it.
“And it wasn’t her fiances.” She said. “His name was Mark Evans, he was a
servant here in the house, Maggie, that was my great great grandpa.” She
was in shock.
“So it was okay then. Did they run away together or something?” I was
hopeful, but I knew it couldn’t be that simple.
“No, she never told him. So when her parents found out her father locked
her in the house, he couldn’t afford to have her ruin their reputation
anymore.” She said.
“So what happened to her, and the baby?” I was beginning to have a
terrible feeling that this didn’t end well.
“I don’t know. It ends August 24, 1941, the day before her father was shot.”
“I think I know where we should look, follow me.”
I took her back into the study I had found the day before.
“Look,” I showed her the date on the paper, “this room hasn’t been touched
since the day Mr. Keenan was murdered.” It didn’t take very long for us to
find the hatch. Under his desk and beneath a rug there was a little door into
a hidden room.
“Oh God.” Kayla and I descended into the dark little room. There was
enough light from the room above to see a cot and a bassinet. I couldn’t
take my eyes off of the cot, there Sarah’s body still lay, now only a skeleton
in a nightgown. I moved toward the bassinet terrified of what I would find,
but all that was there was a note.
To whomever finds this room and by extension my secrets, I would like to
apologize. This is a gristly sight and I myself wish I didn’t have to see it.
However if you are of my family then you owe me your gratitude. My
daughter would have ruined us, she wanted to keep her baby. My wife was
for a time willing to go along with this. She even spoke of raising the baby
as ours. I went through the charade of allowing her to build a nursery, but
my wife has been unable to have children for a long time, it wouldn’t have
fooled anyone. I knew her fiance would never have her when he found out,
and I would not have my daughter marry a servant. So I spoke with her
cousin Rachel. While unable to have children she was able to make a good
marriage with a hardworking man. She was willing to pay quite a large sum
after all not only was this child a male he still was of her blood. When I told
my daughter what I was going to do she threatened to tell everyone that
she was pregnant, so I had to stop letting her leave the house. Until she
gave birth she would have to be confined. I did not plan on killing my
daughter. I never would have thought myself capable of strangling my only
child, but if I had not made her stop screaming she would have woken her
mother, and Rebecca could never know what had happened. I will always
hate myself for what I have done. I maintain though that I had no choice. I
spoke with Rachel and she has agreed to name him John as Sarah had
wanted. He will never know who his mother was.
It was hours before the police left. It was sad that while the mystery had
been solved there would never be any real justice for Sarah. My mother
and I sat at the table in silence, neither of us knew what to do now.
Suddenly my mother looked up.
“What was the name of Sarah’s baby?” She asked looking intently at me.
“John Keenan.” I told my mom.
“And his adopted mother’s name was Rachel?” She looked like she was in
“Yeah.” I didn’t know where she was going with this.
“John Keenan is my father.” She said. “Sarah is your great grandmother.” I
couldn’t believe what she was saying.
“I’m going to my room.” I said still in shock. “Goodnight mom.”
I walked upstairs but I didn’t go to my room, I went to the nursery. The room
just looked sad now that I knew how much hope had been behind it and
how badly those dreams had been destroyed. Then I noticed something I
hadn’t before there was another letter on the rocking chair. The envelope
said Amelia on it. It was for my mother.
Dear Amelia you don’t know me. My name is Rebecca and I am your great
great grandmother. I know this must be a shock to you but that is why I am
leaving you this house. You are my closest relative and this is our family
house. I have never met you but I love you. I lost my own daughter to my
husbands pride and I will never forgive myself for not being able to stop it.
He never knew that I knew he had killed her, I heard her screaming that
night, and I saw what he did. I am not however going to burden you with
that information. Just know that I got even with him for taking my baby, and
I will never be caught. No one expects a woman to be able to use a pistol.
Good luck dear and be good to your daughter, no matter what.
I brought my mom the letter amazed that we could have yet another
revelation today, but hoping she could handle one more.
“Mom, I’m pregnant.”