Story 17 is “The House, the Garden, and Occupants” by Amanda C. Davis. She is a combustion engineer who loves baking, gardening, and, of course, ghosts. Her work has previously appeared in Triangulation: Last Contact and Triangulation: End of the Rainbow, as well as Redstone Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, and others. You can follow her on Twitter (@davisac1) or read more of her work at http://www.amandacdavis.com.
The House, the Garden, and Occupants
By Amanda C. Davis
This is Anne, with shreds of her gown wisping away like the edges of clouds, at the elbow of the grand staircase where the iron-framed window overlooks a patch of garden entombed in briars. She casts a glow onto the wall that reflects faintly but bestows her no shadow. She is riveted to the window; her face is watery, difficult to make out, but her posture reveals her inner workings. A clock chimes midnight. Slowly, she lowers her head. Slowly, she turns from the window. She takes a single step upstairs before she dissipates like fog beneath the sun.
The first time she took this path she followed it to her bedroom, to a letter-opener strewn on her writing desk, to her bath, to her grave. Now she exists only in a narrow series of moments. She only completed this path once.
Anne comes with the first stroke of midnight, leaves with the last. She knows nothing but midnight and the word that falls from her ghostly lips, unheard. These two things have composed the full of her existence for over one hundred years.
This is the column of light that flares in the garden just after the last chime of midnight. As tall as a tree and brilliant as an angel, it burns bright for a single blink, then collapses to the earth, leaving the night empty and dead. A pool of light lingers at its base. The garden shifts. Its shadows follow no rules.
The column of light, in its youngest years, answered to Boy, and then to Groom, and a host of careless and vicious names between, but the only name it will answer to now is the last one it knew, the one that Anne called it. If the light speaks, it has never been heard; if it knows anything at all, it is the single moment of flaring and falling, too quick to grasp. Its existence is an eternal cycle of light and dark. It moves so fast that life from its perspective might be a single blur. But it will never tell.
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Reviews to date:
“The House, the Garden, and Occupants” by Amanda C. Davis presents a young man, Jacob Winterbeam, preparing a house to woo a colleague, yet the house is haunted by an apparition that Jacob tries to exorcise. The conflict is limited to this. The narrator in this piece is problematic in that it either bounces around or the voice has no real stake in the narrative. While it may harken to a different age of storytelling, the style does not match its method. Still, it’s hard not to be swept into cheering for the story’s emotional outcome.
– Trent Walters, SF Site.
“The House, the Garden, and Occupants” by Amanda C. Davis is about a haunted house. Anne is the ghost and Jacob Winterbeam has bought the house, not knowing about Anne. I found it difficult to get into the characters; Jacob doesn’t really stand out as a character, and I found the whole thing tough sledding. – Chuck Rothman, Tangent Online.
What do you think? This story wowed us with its voice, and the cleverness of its concept. It’s hard to classify and hard to put down. This is one you simply must read for yourself.