Ms. Kelcey

Fiction By Tamerah // 2/23/2008

When I lay awake in bed at night as a child I could always tell when it rained because I could hear the plop, plop, plop, of water droplets hitting the metal pan in the corner of my room. Every night the seconds would pass away with each drip until the day dawned, finding everything more gloomy and wet than the darkness of night even had revealed. And yet I always looked forward to the next day with the hope that it would find things better. But it always rained.
At breakfast I would sit at the crowded table, staring out the window at the rain that fell unrelenting as ever, it poured down so thickly that the streets were flooded and the water came right up to our doorstep. I kept this routine every morning, but one day it was interrupted by a very unexpected visit. I vaguely remember I heard a knock on the door and I knew my Mother had left the kitchen to answer it by the sudden outburst of unruly behavior at the table from my younger brothers and sisters. I didn't notice anything else that happened until I heard my name.
"Lauren is old enough, I'm sure she could be of some help." Help with what? I got out of my chair and went to the door. Our neighbor was there, Ms. Kelcey. She was the old woman who lived in the house directly behind ours, the one with rheumatism.
Ms. Kelcey's wrinkled face turned on me as I came up behind my mother. She looked at me intensely for a minute, her small squinty eyes nearly lost in folds of skin. She shifted her heavy frame from one thick leg to the other, then shook her frizzy white head and looked back at my Mother.
"Yes, she'll do just fine." She said.
"When do you want me to send her over?" The words left my mothers mouth and fell to the floor with a crash. Send her over. I shuddered.
"After school would be just fine." Ms. Kelcey answered in her small, creaky voice. I was not sure if she said anything else to my Mother, but I know she left quickly, shuffling back out the door and into the rain. My mother turned to me then and looked hard at me.
"Lauren," she began, knowing I wouldn't like what she was going to say, "Ms. Kelcey needs help around the house, just for cleaning, until the weather clears, her joints are too stiff for her to get much done on her own." I opened my mouth to protest but nothing came out.
"She has offered to pay you five dollars for every day you go over there to help," my mother continued. She had that look in her eye and that stern tone in her voice that told me not to argue. I shut my mouth. There was no way of getting around it, my Mother had offered my services to Ms. Kelcey. At that moment I looked out the window at the gray day, the rain fell so thickly that it made everything blurry and dark. I blamed my misfortune on the rain. Why must it always rain?

After school I was to go to Mrs. Kelceys' house. I was scared, I had a sick twirly feeling in my stomach, like someone had shrunk an entire amusement park and put it there. I didn't want to go, Ms. Kelcey was the lady on the block that every kid was afraid of. She was odd somehow though the adults didn't say anything. She was the one who always seemed to be half in a dream, speaking to people who weren't there and talking to people who were there like they were someone else.
I walked slowly on the way home just to lengthen my time of freedom. When I got home I tried to stall but my Mother sent me over to Ms. Kelcey's almost the second my feet touched the muddy rug in front of our door. So bracing myself once more against the weather (it was of course still raining), I darted out the back door, through the gate that separated our back yard from Ms. Kelcey's, and under the porch covering at her back door. It swung open immediately and I found myself nearly in Ms. Kelcey's arms. With an exclamation of surprise I took a hasty step back.
"You shouldn't go through the back door." Mrs Kelcey said as she let me in.
"Why not?" I asked startled, looking suspiciously at the door frame.
"Its not safe." She answered in a far away tone as she closed the door behind me. I shifted uncomfortably when I heard the click of the lock. I had never been in Ms. Kelcey's home before. It was small, dusty, and it smelled like arthritis cream. Cluttering every shelf were many little glass figures, their colors muted and gray with dust. Pictures hung everywhere on the walls, and rugs covered nearly every inch of the floor. And the clocks, she had clocks covering the walls, and little clocks sitting on dressers and shelves and tables, the air was filled with their constant ticking.
"Do you want anything to drink?" Ms. Kelcey asked, startling me out of my amazed puzzlement.
"Yes please." I said politely, afraid she might be upset if I refused. Ms Kelcey lead me to her small kitchen and motioned for me to sit down at the table. She took a ring of keys out of her dress pocket and unlocked her cupboards, and once she had all she needed from inside she locked them again and replaced the keys in her pocket. Before I could think of how strange it was that she locked her cupboards, and let my imagination figure out all the possibilities as to why she did this, Ms. Kelcey's sharp creaky voice interrupted me.
"Do you like tea?" She asked.
"Yes, very much." I said, though I hated tea. A moment later Ms. Kelcey placed a steaming cup of tea in front of me. I said thank you and took a quick sip of the hot liquid. After several nervous minutes under the close surveillance of Ms. Kelcey I painfully finished my tea and was immediately afterwards put to work. First I was to clean the kitchen. No difficult task you would think when it was just Ms. Kelcey who lived there, how could one woman make a very big mess? But I remember to this day the horrors of that kitchen. There were piles upon piles of dishes in the sink, spilling out onto the counters, caked with old food that was no longer recognizable. Armed with a rag, a scrubbing tool, soap, and a pair of rubber gloves I bravely tackled the mess.
I very quickly lost track of time in that house, it had a strange feel to it, like there were mysteries there, older even than Ms. Kelcey herself. Even with all the clocks I found it hard to keep track of the passing of hours. Ms. Kelcey had long disappeared into some unknown part of the house, leaving me behind in the kitchen to do my job. My nerves were on edge with the nonstop ticking of the innumerable clocks and my fingers hurt from scrubbing dishes. I'm not sure how I managed it, those first few hours in Ms. Kelcey's kitchen were a blur, even now, especially now, but I somehow finished the dishes and stacked them neatly on the counter (I would have put them away in the cupboards had they not been locked), and no sooner did I stack the last plate when Ms. Kelcey appeared again. I had not noticed but it was very close to dark, which wasn't hard when the sky was always clogged with clouds, the difference between night and day was told simply by the shades of gray. Ms. Kelcey looked carefully over all her dishes, inspecting each one, which added an additional half hour on my time spent in her house, but finally Ms. Kelcey produced five, very wrinkled, one dollar bills from her pocked and placed them in my hand.
"You can go home now." She said dismissively, "Come back the same time tomorrow." I stood outside Ms. Kelcey's front door (she did not let me leave through the backdoor) for a good five minutes before I went home. I was shocked that she had not even said thank you! My mother would have grounded me for the rest of my childhood if I had been so rude to anybody. But I didn't suppose Ms. Kelcey had ever been grounded when she was a child, for that would require being a child at some point and I didn't think the that it was very likely Ms. Kelcey had ever been young.
That night I laid awake a long time with the ticking of clocks reverberating inside my head, the only thing that could distracted me from the plop, plop plop in the metal pan.

I went regularly to Ms. Kelcey's house for two weeks before anything out of the ordinary happened (after a few days with Ms. Kelcey her strange habits no longer seemed out of the ordinary to me, rather all the things everyone else did looked strange). I always came at the same time, always by the front door and always doing some odd job, that I thought the house should have been spotless by my third visit, but Ms. Kelcey always found something new for me to clean. Every day before I could get to work she would have me sit at the table and force me to drink a cup of tea. We always sat silently, I didn't dare to say a word, I was very quick to pick up that she had an unexpected temper, so I only waited for her to give me some task to do for the day which she always did after I had finished my tea.
"I want you to dust my pictures. And when you're done with that I want you to go into the spare room and tidy up in there." She said to me one day as she handed me a rag from the counter. I nodded politely and immediately went to work.
I started dusting in the front of the house and I worked my way back. Her house was certainly full of pictures, or at least picture frames, very few of them actually had pictures in them. It took a long time to dust every last one and by the time I made it to the spare room my arms were aching and I was getting a headache. I pushed open the creaky door and peered inside. The room was big and dark and leaning against the walls were big objects with white sheets draped over them giving them an altogether ghostly appearance. I was immediately dismayed, so much cleaning and dusting, and my nose was already red and swollen from the amount of sneezing I had done out in the other rooms. On the far wall was a large stack of boxes filled with the random useless objects that one acquires in life and it stretched from one corner of the wall to the other, from the floor to the ceiling. They leaned over me ominously, threatening to topple over at any moment. I took a step inside and looked around for the light switch, which I found with very little search and flipped on. One single light bulb hung form the ceiling in the large room, leaving the corners still in shadow. I let myself wallow in my unhappiness for a while, then I bravely told myself just to get it done, at least the sound of the clocks was somewhat muffled if I let the door close most of the way. Taking a few more steps into the room I noticed a sweet scent of flowers as I went further in and it quickly calmed my nerves and made my head pound less fiercely. The hardest part about cleaning that room was figuring out where to start and what exactly to do. What did she mean by 'tidy up'? It could take years to organize that room, I might as well try and tidy up a landfill. After standing in contemplation for a moment I decided I would just do my best to make it look tidier. I folded unused sheets and blankets that lay in unruly heaps on the floor, I straightened out all the nicknacks on the shelves and I dusted every surface that had dust on it, which was for the most part every surface in the room, even the floor had a thick layer of dust on it that caked to the bottom of my sneakers (though I did not even venture to think of dusting that). As I worked my way further into the room I noticed the air was fresher, which I thought was odd since there were no windows in the room. Reaching the back wall I sat down to take a break so I leaned my back against one of the large objects covered with several sheets and closed my eyes a moment. Suddenly I felt a sort of cool air brush across my face. I opened my eyes and looked about me, excpecting to find a vent or something. My eyes fell upon a sort of square object, about the size of the window in my bedroom at the time, wrapped in a bundle of cloth and pushed back behind a book shelf that stood about four inches away from the wall. What caused me to notice it was a sort of glow, like of daylight, that shone through th cloth like it shines through your window curtains in the morning. I moved towards it on my hands and knees until I was within a foot of it. The soft caress of cool air was stronger now and so was the sweet scent of flowers. I put my hands out and carefully I unwrapped the sheet and cast it onto the dusty floor. The light became suddenly brighter and a strong rush of cool air blew my hair back from my face. Before me was a painting set in a beautiful oak frame with vines twisting and curling around it like they would a tree trunk. The painting was of a field of soft purple flowers, and at the edge of the field was a line of old looking trees and beyond a golden hill and farther beyond still a shining blue sky marred with not a single cloud. Through the branches streamed soft morning sunlight that fell onto the field of purple flowers making them look like a sea of indigos and violets and soft periwinkles. It looked so real, I thought it must have been painted by an illusionist, (for I thought very highly of illusionists at the time). There were plenty of ways to explain away why it looked so real, but I couldn't help but feel like I could reach out and pick one of the flowers that came right up to the edge of the frame, and the light was so real, I could not deny that it brightened that small corner of the room like no real painting could. Then I saw the trees move, and I felt the wind blow out through the beautiful frame and brush softly against my cheek. The field of flowers rippled and the trees swayed gently in the cool breeze. My eyes opened wide and I slowly moved my hand towards the picture, reaching out to it, hoping to feel the canvas, but instead my hand went straight through. It felt like I was reaching through a window, the sun fell across my hand, and the crisp fresh air wreathed around my fingers. Carefully I reached for one of the purple flowers and picked one, holding its stem gently between my fingers. Suddenly the creak of a floorboard somewhere in the house made me jump and I dropped the flower and pulled my hand back and quickly draped the sheet back over the picture.
Then the door creaked open and Ms. Kelcey was upon me. She towered above me and looked silently at me for a long moment casting occasionally a suspicious glance at the picture with the sheet draped haphazardly over it.
"What is going on here?” She demanded in a fierce voice, though I confusedly detected a satisfied glint in her small black eyes.
"N-nothing, Ms. Kelcey." I stammered, scrambling up off of the floor and wiping the dust off my clothing. However she seemed to know more about what I had been doing than I wanted her to, in fact she seemed to exactly what I had been doing.
"Go home." She said in a dangerous voice, and I did.

For the next several days I neither went back to her house nor did she come to mine. No one questioned me about my sudden dismissal, for everyone knew Ms. Kelcey to be a little odd to say the least, but no one, not even myself, could account for the horrible mood I was in since I left her house. I was always brooding and unpleasant until i'm sure people began to think the rain would make better company. Everyday I would purposefully walk by Ms. Kelcey's house, even though it was out of my way and I got drenched in doing so, hoping to catch a glimpse of I didn't know what, I was always wanting a reason to go up to her door and I always found a reason for doing so lacking. I pretended to myself that I felt bad about the way we parted, but the truth was that I felt drawn to that house. I felt that I could no more stay away from it than Ms. Kelcey herself. But it was not just that, for I had an overwhelming desire to see that painting again until finally I did go up to her front door and knock on it, with a much steadier hand than I had thought possible. Ms. Kelcey answered the door promptly, as she always did.
"Ms. Kelcey," I began in a mechanical tone (for I had rehearsed what I would say to her for many days), "I feel bad about the way I behaved while I was in your house, and if you are willing to except me back, I would like to help you out again, for no charge of course, to make up for my bad treatment of your personal property." Ms. Kelcey was silent for a long time after I finished my little speech, but I could tell she was pleased and finally she invited me in. We sat down at the table and drank our tea just as if nothing had happened.
“Lauren,” Ms. Kelcey said suddenly almost as soon as we had our tea in front of us, “Do you know why I lock my cupboards?”
“No ma’am.”
“I lock them so nothing can get in.”
“In the cupboards?” I asked confused.
“No, in the house.” I remained silent, afraid of saying something wrong that might upset her, for I thought she was in one of her moods.
“Lauren,” She began again, “Have you ever thought of the possibility of other worlds?”
“I have ma’am.” I was ready to say anything to please her.
“What do you think they would be like?” I pondered for a moment,
“I think they would be very nice places.” I finally answered.
“Well they are not. They are bad places with bad creatures and we must keep them out of our world.” She looked at me closely with her dark eyes.
“Do you understand?” I nodded though I didn't understand at all.
“There are certain people, you know, that must protect our world from the other worlds…” She paused, “And after a very long time, someone else must come and replace them, and they will get to go to their resting place.”
I nodded more confused.
“I don’t think I will be here tomorrow.” She finally concluded.
“Where will you be?” I asked in surprise for I had never seen Ms. Kelcey go very far from her house.
“I will be gone, to my resting place.” And then she looked at me with such an expression of triumph on her face that it made me shrink away from her in fear. The look quickly disappeared and she dismissed me to go home.
The next day when I got home from school I asked my mother if Ms. Kelcey had left yet, and when she said she had not seen her leave the house I decided to go over and see if I could help her with anything. I stood for a long time knocking at her front door with no answer when finally I tried the handle and found it, much to my surprise, unlocked. I pushed the door open slowly and peaked my head inside. All the lights were off and all I could hear was the ticking of the clocks that had become so familiar in the past few weeks; it certainly looked like Ms. Kelcey had left. I went to the kitchen calling out for her and I found on the table an envelope with my name written on it in a rather shaky hand. I opened it quickly and found her set of keys in it. Then I became truly alarmed, for I suddenly thought of what she had said the day before, and shoving the keys in my pants pocket I searched the whole house for her. As I passed by the spare room I caught a familiar scent on the air and with surprise I saw the door was cracked open.
“Ms. Kelcey?” I whispered as I quietly slipped into the room, “Hello?” The room was empty but I recognized a cool breeze and a sort of daylight that shown from the back corner though I knew there to be no window. I did not need anyone to tell me where it came from. I found the painting pulled out and leaning against the wall, the sheet thrown on the floor, and I could even see shuffling footprints in the dust. And then I knew where Ms. Kelcey had gone, she had gone into the painting, and I thought for the first time that she perhaps was more sane than most. I sat on the floor with the sheet clenched in my hand and hoped she had gone to her resting place. Then slowly I covered the painting with the sheet and pushed it back once more behind the shelf, and I knew I would never see Ms. Kelcey again.

Comments

Woah

This Is Awesome

Anonymous | Sat, 02/23/2008

Stephanie

This was a good one. Pretty captivating. Did the idea of a old woman in a creepy house come from a recent read book:)? Keep up the good work and you'll be a great writer someday.

Anonymous | Sat, 02/23/2008

Wow

I really enjoyed this one - thanks for sharing it - and I love the way it ended. :) About half way through I wasn't sure how you were going to finish it, but it seemed to have the perfect ending. :) Keep that imagination in high gear - and keep the stories coming! :)

Jenny | Sun, 02/24/2008

Captivating

This was a wonderful short story. It left me wondering if Lauren was to be the new keeper of the keys. I hope someday she too will go through the picture into her much desired sunshine.

Anonymous | Sun, 02/24/2008

=]

She is actually, I had something on the ending that let you know in a round about way that she was the next 'keeper of the keys' but i took it off, i liked this ending better =]

Tamerah | Sun, 02/24/2008

......................

great story, Tamerah!
I can hardly wait for the next part!
Sarah H

Anonymous | Sun, 02/24/2008

Will you write more of this?

Will you write more of this? It's great, and though if it had been me I probably would've done it differently, it's all perfect. Just I hope Lauren doesn't end up like Mrs. Kelcey.

Anna | Mon, 02/25/2008

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

i know! I would hate for her

i know!
I would hate for her to become a creepy old lady living in a house with tons of clocks and empty picture frames!

Sarah | Mon, 02/25/2008

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

...

I have been toying with the idea of writing something to go along with this, but I don't have any solid ideas for it as of right now.

Tamerah | Mon, 02/25/2008

I have. *impish, mysterious

I have. *impish, mysterious smile*... Well, I've started a story INSPIRED by this, anyway... not really connected to it at all becasue that would be violation of copyright. =(

Anna | Tue, 02/26/2008

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

=]

I'm glad to know my writing has inspired somebody.
You better let me read it when you finish it =]

Tamerah | Tue, 02/26/2008

Well maybe I will. ;b

Well maybe I will. ;b

Anna | Tue, 02/26/2008

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Right back at you

I have yet to write a short story... But this one is very well writen.

Ezra | Wed, 02/27/2008

"There are no great men of God. There are only pitiful, sorry men whose God is great beyond measure." - Paul Washer [originally Jonathan Edwards]

Dude that was awesome. :-D

Dude that was awesome. :-D I've been inspired. I will write short stories instead of novels when I become a writer. :-D That was really good.

MarissaT | Sun, 03/09/2008

Marissa J. Thompson

AHH!

Thank you, you have just made my day!
I was like "DUDE Frodo commented me!"
=]

Tamerah | Sun, 03/09/2008

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