Alannah stared through the rusty gate at the abandoned house on the other side. Its peachy walls were faded, peeling, and crumbly; vines crept up towards the roof like a disease. Most of the kids at school said this house was haunted. But Alannah had been inside this house in her dreams. She had seen warm, glowing light inside the rooms, and tiny specks of dust drifting down the halls, catching the light in ways that made them sparkle. Alannah knew something about this house that no one else did.
She knew that inside this house, there lived some kind of magic.
She fiddled with the padlock holding the gate closed with a heavy chain. To her surprise, with little effort, the padlock clicked open. She looked around – the street was empty – before she slipped the end of the chain out, pushed the gate open just enough, and clicked it shut behind her.
All the plants were overgrown, the larger ones overpowering the smaller ones, smothering them, taking over. Roots grew over foliage and reached into the far corners of everything.
She followed the pathway to the front door. She took a deep breath, and then she knocked.
Her knocks seemed to echo for days. When there was no answer, she turned the handle. The door clicked open, and she stepped inside.
The foyer was painted a brighter peach, unaffected by the weather. In fact, everything looked clean, new, grand. It did not look like the inside of an abandoned house at all.
‘Hello?’ Alannah called. ‘It’s me, Alannah.’
She looked down the hallway and saw the dust particles floating through the air, catching the light in ways that made them sparkle. Hypnotised by how pretty they were, she walked through them, feeling them brush her skin like feather-light raindrops.
A warm glow emanated from a room at the end of the hall. Slowly, quietly, Alannah moved towards it.
[a fifteen-minute writing exercise inspired by three random words: peachy, rusted, magic.]