¨Why'd you decide to move?¨ The landlord inquired.
The man shifted uncomfortably, ¨My wife died in my last house. Not somewhere I really wanted to stick around.¨ He explained.
“I’m sorry for your loss. You’re so young to have a spouse die.”
“Yes well… She umm, decided to take her own life. I found her in the bathroom, and I don’t think I could ever stick around there anymore.” He omitted the way he had found her letter on his pillow.
The man moved into his new home on the following Monday. That evening he was surprised by a knock on the door as he was eating supper. He speculated who it could be as he ambled over to the door, but he was sure he had yet to tell anyone of his new address. His landlord had told him the only nearby house was vacant, and other civilization was miles away. Actually it had been one of his favorite things about the house; that he could be completely alone.
He took his time answer the door, in the hopes that whoever was there would get bored and leave. After doing several trivial chores the knock came again and he reluctantly opened the door to a woman covered head to toe in a long robe and scarf over her hair and neck. The dim lighting gave her a menacing appearance, despite her small frame. Her dark eyes glared up at him. He twisted his wedding band nervously, a habit he could never break.
¨Yes?¨ he asked.
She smiled sweetly, and it softened the harshness he had seen in her eyes. ¨I wanted to welcome you into your new house. I live next door and would like to invite you to dinner.¨ She told him.
He was tempted for a moment by her good looks, but he then remembered how menacing she had first looked, for some reason she made him uneasy. Then he thought of his late wife and how she would have been angry if she knew he considered going with this strange woman. It wasn’t difficult to think of an excuse, he gestured behind him to his table, where his meal sat half eaten, ¨I am much obliged, but as you can see I have already prepared some food and wouldn't want it to go to waste.¨ He said apologetically.
¨I understand.¨ She assured him. ¨Sometime soon then. Good evening to you.¨ He couldn't help feeling guilty for disappointing her and agreed to join her soon. It wasn't until he shut his door that he remembered the landlord's promise of no neighbors. Somewhat vexed he decided to confront the landlord about it the next day.
The man wasted no time seeking out the landlord the next day and inquiring about the woman, accusing the landlord of lying to him. The landlord took offense and responded that it must have been an odd dream, for the only house nearby was recently vacated. The landlord seemed so sure that the man doubted his own memory and admitted that the woman did seem odd, perhaps it had been a dream. But that night she again knocked on his door and invited him over. Again he declined and immediately phoned the landlord to tell of the situation.
¨Could you describe this woman for me?¨ The landlord asked. So the man briefly described her floor length robes and the scarf she wore over her head. There was a pause on the line as the landlord took in the description. ¨Very odd...¨ He murmured, ¨You have described to me what the past occupant of the house next to your’s always wore. I would almost have thought it was her if I didn't know better.¨ The landlord goes on to tell of how the woman had killed her abusive husband and herself a month earlier. ¨They never did come out with how the husband was killed, but she was still holding the gun with a shot through her head. When police investigated they found scars all over her body, which led to the conclusion that he abused her. She always wore those robes so nobody would know, but I guess she just snapped. I didn't mention it to you because I was afraid you would not want to rent from me.¨ The landlord admitted.
“I’m not superstitious.” Said the man. “If the dead came back to life I’d already be haunted. I believe this woman must be some homeless lady making use of the empty property. Maybe she’s hoping I will take pity on her and lend her some money.”
“Perhaps.” Agreed the landlord. “Maybe you would be a little more wary of the dead if your wife wasn’t among them. Anyways, if I can meet this neighbor of yours I can tell her that the property is off limits.”
So the two men agreed that the landlord would come for dinner at the man's house the very next night, in the hopes that she would show up again and the landlord might see her.
The next evening the landlord arrived and they waited together. There was a nervous air about them and neither man said much. As the minutes turned to hours the man grew impatient, “Perhaps we should go over to her house and then you can tell her,” he suggested.
“I’ve never set a foot in that house and I never will. Whole place speaks of bad luck.” The landlord replied.
So they continued to sit in silence. Eventually, when the sun completely set and she still had not shown up, the landlord excused himself.
As soon as he had exited, there came a knock on the door. The woman had finally come and she looked especially beautiful tonight in dark red robes. She invited him over again, this time for some tea and insisted that he could not deny her for a third night. He hesitantly agreed and accompanied her back to her house.
On the short walk back between their two houses, he tried to explain his adversity to spending an evening with her. “I know you have no way of knowing this, but recently my wife passed away, and I still feel a little odd around other women.” He said.
“You don’t have to feel guilty.” She said. “That will all go away soon. And besides, we won’t be alone for dinner.” She told him.
Entering her house he saw that they were indeed not alone, which relieved him for a minute, since being alone with the woman reminded him of his past affairs. She introduced him to her husband, who had on a scowl and did not reply, being too fixated on the other woman in the room. When he followed the man’s gaze and looked at her, he blanched; she was the spitting image of his wife. His heart hammered in his chest and he was frozen in place. He wondered if he was hallucinating, but then she spoke, ¨What is wrong with you? You look as if you have seen a ghost.¨ When he heard her voice he was sure it was his wife and the color drained from his face. He turned to leave, his hands shaking in fear. He found that the door had locked behind him. He looked at the robed lady for assistance, but was too startled to speak when he saw her scarf had slid down, revealing terrible scars on her neck and shoulders.
The robed woman's husband spoke from behind the man, ¨I have learned my lesson, and now you can learn yours--a husband is meant to love his wife.¨
Friday afternoon, the landlord discovered the man’s body inside of the house. The police never found a weapon and could not detect any fingerprints. They announced the death as a “tragic accident.”