Fourth week in of the online Faber Academy course brings me to the half way point and already I’m wishing it was longer.
This week it’s all about setting and atmosphere.
To be honest I cheated a little this week – instead of writing a new piece to post to the discussion forum I used my current WIP’s opening page. It just felt too good an opportunity to miss to get it out there to seek others reactions. I was rather nervous, but as ever feedback was good and gratefully received.
If you fancy taking a look and letting me know your thoughts also that would be great!
It was called Middle House because that’s where it stood. Although saying that it wasn’t actually in the middle of the road, more nestled in the middle of a cluster of decrepit old houses, all huddled together around a small grass square. Set back from the road and built right into the side of a steeply pitched hill, it made the bedroom windows at the back lead straight out onto the sloped rear garden.
It was the sort of house you drew as a child. Detached, with four perfectly square windows; one in each corner, of course. A grey tiled roof complete with chimney pot perched on top, and a wooden gate at the front with a path that lead you straight up to the front door finished the picture.
Except this one was more than just a house.
The first day I set eyes on it I knew it was no ordinary house, and I was only twelve years old. It just looked, well, it looked at me. Every other house I’d ever seen before in my short life, had never looked at me, but this one did.
“Come on, Jess love, you’re the only one small enough to fit through the window and you can just run through the house quick and open the front door, yes?” my mother said, nodding at me and smiling, willing me to just do it. But I didn’t smile back. I didn’t want to be squeezed through the broken window at the side of the derelict old house and have to try and find my way through its cold, dark empty hallways to open the front door. I wanted to go home.
Except we didn’t really have a home any more, because we all four currently lived squeezed into the not very spacious spare bedroom of the people we called Auntie and Uncle, but they weren’t really. Everyone seemed to have those sorts of ‘relatives’ years ago, don’t seem to hear of them so much nowadays, though. We’d moved in with them when Mum left Dad.
“No-one’ll know, go on, just be fast, Jess, to the door, and then we can all go in and have a look about can’t we,” said my ‘Auntie’ Jane, with the same nod and smile that mum had just given me. A dank, musty smell crept out of the broken pane of glass and wafted itself under my nose. I swallowed hard.
The thought of going into that house made my stomach churn, four times. When we’d come around the corner to it a few moments earlier, and it had stared at me the way it did, I had wanted to run – fast – in the opposite direction. But now they wanted me to go inside of it, on my own!
“Come on, Jess, please! We just want to have a look around, love. We get the keys next week. It’ll give us a chance to see what needs doing and that, before we move in.”
What needed doing, Mum? I could tell you from standing right here right now what needed doing – it needed demolishing!