The neighborhood next to the one I once lived in was often renowned for its exterior glamor — the flashy cars, the over-the-top architecture, the paved driveways that seem a little bit too perfect for people to even step foot on — but ask any of the locals and they'll tell you stories that seem ripped from a subpar horror movie. Almost all of the interwoven whispers and mumbled secrets about the community pointed to the seventh house in the neighborhood, one that the middle-schoolers call haunted, the one that carries burdens higher than the spire that adorns the top of the mulberry-black roof.
The rumors are partly true: yes, the house did catch fire half a decade prior, but it wasn't from a spiteful housewife with a taste for arson as much of the uninformed love to claim; the boiler had exploded while a classmate of mine still lived there. It was a miracle, spat the newspaper the following day, that the family just so happened to be out of town that very day.
They never mention the fact that the boiler exploded on Christmas Eve and the only reason the blackened house is still standing is because the December snow muffled the blast.
They never mention the fact that the family's dog still yelps out in terror in the dead of night because the ten-thousand scent receptors on its little terrier nose sometimes pick up the faintest smell of charred wood and burnt metal and being abandoned in a burning home.
They never mention how the wind still speaks about how much it misses the family, trembling the trees like the tremble of its aching heart, with a whispered: "come back, come back".