Horror, Short Stories

A Provincial Tale

When I was a kid, one of my aunts told me this story, which they experienced when she was younger. She was not the type who liked telling scary stories and making things up and I think that’s what made it scary for me. I weaved some fiction in it to make the story more originally mine, but the gist of my aunt’s story still remains. I hope you enjoy this short story and please tell me if there are some parts that need to be improved. Happy Halloween!

I was just a little girl when our housekeeper told me this tale. She was hesitant at first for she didn’t want to spook me because then I would only bother her by following her around the house while she was doing her chores. It was the summer I turned eight. The whole house was completely empty except for me and our housekeeper. My parents were always away for work in the city which is a good two-hour drive that is why they only go home on the weekends.

It was a huge, old house with enough space for a decent yard out front and a backyard with a rotten wooden fence and a broken gate that hang on the side of the post. My dad kept saying he’ll fix it but he never really came around to it probably because he never saw that it was needed because nobody lived behind our house. It was actually the beginning of the woods behind our backyard. My father inherited the house from my grandmother, who passed away before I was born, God bless her soul.

By dusk I am expected to finish playing outside the yard and to light a candle on the altar on the second floor landing at exactly six o’clock. And I was not allowed to go into the backyard without a companion, lest I find myself wandering out into the woods.

One summer night, at supper, I kept pestering our housekeeper to tell me that scary story that I overheard her telling our neighbor. I was in the front yard playing with my dolls and she was out in front of our gates sweeping the sidewalk. Our neighbor, who lives two miles away, was walking home from the market and came by to say hi to her. I wasn’t able to hear it all clearly because the gates were a bit far from where I am in the yard but I was able to hear some fragments of it because our neighbor kept exclaiming how scary it was.

“All right, I will tell you”, she surrendered. “But you have to finish your dinner first. And after I finish all my work.”

There were two single beds in our housekeeper’s room. I prefer to sleep in her room whenever my parents are not home. I always chose the bed on the corner for I love feeling the coldness of the wall on my right side at dawn and there was also a little window on the same wall where I can see the sky change color. A small side table with a lamp on it separated our beds in the middle. And on my far left was our housekeeper’s bed with a huge window towering over the top of her bed.

I was in my pajamas and nestled comfortably in my bed, and I turned over to my left to face our housekeeper. “Tell me the story”, I whispered to her. Our housekeeper turned to her right to face me and before she could begin, I closed the lamp on the side table between our beds and giggled. Now the whole room was engulfed in darkness and she began her story:

Several years ago, when I was still a young girl, back in my hometown far down south, where it was more provincial and rural than it is here, I lived with my family; I have my mother, my three brothers, and a sister. Our house was a small bungalow with a tin roof and with no ceiling. A week after my father left to work abroad to support the whole family, we were plague by someone or something that’s been making noises on our rooftop come evening. It would go round and round in circles on our rooftop; the noise was like something metallic being dragged on the tin roof. This would go on throughout the night and me and my family would cover our ears with our pillows and by dawn, it would suddenly stop.

The morning after that first night, my three brothers went up the roof to inspect what might have caused the noise but all they saw were tiny scratch marks that made circles all over the roof. My mother immediately ordered us to go to the market and to buy garlic. We were all ordered to come home before dusk because she said it wasn’t safe. Before sunset, my brothers would throw cloves of garlic onto our roof because it was widely believed in our hometown that that drives evil away. But as the night began to deepen, like clockwork, the screeching of our rooftop would begin. It would go around in circles until a few hours before the sun comes up. It was like coils of aluminum wires are being dragged on our roof in circles every night.

Our housekeeper paused for a long time and I thought she might be teasing me by keeping me in suspense. But I realized she might have fallen asleep. I called out her name in the dark room because I wanted her to finish the story. She cleared her throat and her voice sounded a bit croaky probably from falling asleep. And then she continued:

A neighbor, who was walking home late one night after attending a fiesta on a neighboring town, thought he was just too drunk when he saw a figure of a woman walking slowly around in circles on our roof. “A woman walking?” I asked incredulously, “But we don’t hear footsteps, we only hear something like metal being dragged around in circles.” I said. “Oh,” he said in a surprised manner, “Those are probably her wings.” Another neighbor reportedly saw a huge wild boar walking slowly towards our house at dusk and she immediately closed her windows because it was too huge compared to a usual wild boar.

After a week my mother grew impatient due to lack of sleep. She waited for evening to come with a flashlight, which she borrowed from a rich lady she works for, in her hand. We had no electricity in our house and as nighttime came, we would turn off all our candles and go to bed and cover our ears. But my mother had grit, without her husband to rely on, she thought about confronting whatever that thing is by herself.

As it began to circle our roof, my mother turned on the flashlight and began to shine the light around her room. Her heart was pounding and her feet and hands felt cold. She pointed the flashlight on every corner of the room and then instinctively, she pointed the flashlight towards the top of the window and she saw the woman’s stark white face upside down watching my mother with a smile that never reaches her eyes. My mother realized that she was holding onto the edge of the roof, dangling upside down from her waist. And after realizing that, my mother let out a scream so loud it woke up the faraway neighbors. And after that night, she stopped bothering us. But you know what, I think she followed me here.

“What do you mean?” I asked her alarmingly because I was already feeling very scared. I felt so cold under the covers and I was so frightened that I opened the light on the bedside table beside us. It felt as if a bucket of cold water was thrown at me when I realized that our housekeeper was fast asleep all this time and as I looked at the window over her bed, it was the woman with the stark white face smiling at me, hanging upside down from her waist and her claws hanging onto our roof, who continued to tell the story when our housekeeper fell asleep.

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