Duende

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duende

 

  1. Spanish. charm; magnetism
  2. Spanish. a goblin; demon; spirit

The neighborhood seemed extremely quiet for a Sunday. Cars were in driveways, shined to perfection, but the street seemed to be deserted. No children. No laughing.

It was a far cry from Brooklyn.

A slight breeze rolled across the well-manicured lawn, blowing through the limbs of the oak tree in the front yard. The only sound in the neighborhood seemed to be the rustling of the leaves overhead.

“You’re going to be quite surprised by this house,” Pamela said, pulling the keys out of her pocket as they ascended the three concrete steps to the picturesque yellow rambler.  They were new to the sleepy town of Halsfourth, but Mack’s job had given him the chance to scout out the city for potential growth. Apparently all their data on customer trends showed that Halsfourth was going to be the next boomtown. If Mack stuck it out they could ride the wave to the senior-level in the company in half the time it would normally take. It was an opportunity they couldn’t refuse.

“Is it always this quiet,” Katherine asked. The lack of noise gave her an uneasy feeling, and she was starting to feel as if they were being watched. She glanced from house to house, expecting to see someone. Maybe a nosy neighbor?

“You’ll get used to it,” Pamela said with a laugh. She swatted her hand through the air, brushing aside Katherine’s comment. “I’m sure it’s really different from New York, but once you move in, you’ll find it impossible to leave. Now, let me show you around,” she said opening the door and leading them into the foyer.

The house looked completely renovated. Deep brown hardwood floors welcomed their entry without the slightest creaking of boards. Light pored into the house from huge bay windows at the front of the house. From the door, there was a clear path through the hallway to the kitchen.

Pamela took them throughout the house, highlighting all the extra features that had been put in place “to make the house extra special.”

“A lot of work has gone into this house, which makes me think you two would appreciate it better than the last few houses I’ve shown you,” she said. “It’s sophisticated, fits nicely into your budget and “This is pretty impressive, babe,” Mack whispered to Katherine when Pamela was out of earshot. Katherine nodded, looking around the house, for something she couldn’t quite pinpoint.

She traveled from room to room, looking in corners, checking baseboards, running her fingers along the freshly-painted cream-colored walls. She stopped in the kitchen, shifting her weight from one foot to the next as she surveyed the handiwork–bright blue tile on the backsplash, stone tiles on the floor, all stainless steel appliances. It looked perfect and felt…wrong.

A cool sensation crossed Katherine’s ankles. She looked down, noticing the hem of her pants were being gently moved about by a slight draft. She looked in the direction of the breeze, noticing a door for the first time. It was slightly smaller than a normal-sized door. On first glance it seemed like it would be a pantry, but the cool breeze led Katherine to think otherwise. She stared quizzically at the door Pamela hadn’t included on their tour.

Katherine moved toward the door to peak behind it, noticing she was starting to have a headache. She rubbed her temples lightly before reaching for the door knob. It felt cold to the touch.

“Oh, Mrs. Peabody–” Pamela stood in the kitchen, smiling. “I wouldn’t venture down their just yet. There’s still some work being done in the basement, and I wouldn’t want you getting hurt. It should be finished in a couple days, but if you two want the house today, I could probably get the priced lowered since that work has yet to be complete.”

Katherine’s hand slipped from the knob. “I don’t remember you mentioning a basement. It wasn’t in the listing.”

Pamela nodded. “It’s one of the secret features of the house–a little extra storage place for when you want to tuck some things away and not be bothered with them anymore.”

“Sounds like a bonus to me,” Mack said, entering the kitchen, a pleased smile on his face. “And at a cheaper price?” Katherine could tell he was clearly sold.

“You can’t beat that with a stick?” she asked him, finishing his thought.

“Exactly!”

He was all in.

“So what are you two thinking,” Pamela said, a broad grin on her face.

Although the layout was strange, Katherine thought the house had a slight duende to it. But she couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that something was off.

“Let’s think about it,” she said gently to Mack, putting a hand on his arm.

His smile faltered as a bewildered look crossed his face.

“I know, Mack, but let’s at least sleep on it–no impulse purchases, not for a house. You can’t just easily return something like this.”

Mack shook his head, not understanding his wife or her logic, before turning his attention to Pamela.

“I could see if we could get the priced lowered a little more, maybe seven grand,” Pamela offered, “if the price is giving you some concern.”

Mack’s face lit up. Katherine put a quick hand on his abdomen as she wrapped her arm around his waist.

“Thank you, but we’ll sleep on it,” Katherine said, blinking back the pain spreading behind her eyes.

“I assure you, this house is completely unbelievable and one of the most attractive in this neighborhood,” Pamela said. “This type of offer is very rare.”

Her smile looked less friendly to Katherine. The pain intensified.

“We’ll call you,” Katherine said, interlocking her fingers with her husband’s. She moved toward the front door, drawing Mack out with her.

A fresh breeze rolled toward her as she stood on the porch, alleviating the pressure at her temples.

She could tell her husband was disappointed. He was quietly sulking in that way only she could tell as he thanked Pamela and promised to call her first thing in the morning. Katherine gently extracted the car keys from Mack’s hand as he pinpointed the features he loved best about the house. She walked toward the car, unlocking it, as she glanced back at her husband. By the look of his body language, he was still holding out hope for the house and preparing his oral arguments for the drive back so he could win it.

Katherine opened the passenger door to the rental. The sound of rusty metal cracked the silence of the Sunday. She cocked her head to the side and began moving the door back and forth, trying to replicate the sound.

“You’re smart,” a small raspy voice behind her said.

Katherine whipped around to see a little child on a tricycle. He seemed gaunt. Blue circles settled beneath his huge eyes. Veins popped beneath translucent skin. His clothes were filthy and looked like a costume from some bygone era, and his tricycle seemed just as old, and unsafe to ride.

She peered at the child, wondering where he’d come from.

“Everyone else always leaps before they look…” His voice seemed even smaller, but his words were steady. “Then they have to stay.”

The boy looked sad. Katherine searched for words.

“I would’ve liked for you to join us. You seem nice.”

“Babe! Seriously?!”

Katherine turned to see Mack approach the car, hands akimbo, awaiting an explanation.

“Mack, look!”

His eyes followed the direction of her finger as he came to the passenger’s side of the car.

“You say no the house, but you’re fascinated with a spot of concrete?”

Mack rolled his eyes and climbed into the driver’s seat. Katherine looked around once more for the little boy. He had looked sickly and young. She was doubtful he could move that fast. The only person she saw was Pamela standing in the doorway of the house, a sad look on her face.

“What’s going on with you,” Mack accused. “I thought we were in this together.”

Katherine surveyed the neighborhood once more as they drove away from the eerie stillness, feeling more certain of her hesitation. Mack talked on, absentmindedly speeding out of frustration. But Katherine didn’t mind.

She couldn’t leave that neighborhood fast enough.

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