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YWP: The haunted houses we all pass by

Age 12, Post Mills
Published: 10/21/2019 3:38:10 PM
Modified: 10/21/2019 3:38:07 PM

Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages students to write, helps them improve and connects them with authentic audiences in newspapers, before live audiences and online. YWP also publishes an annual anthology and The Voice, a digital magazine with YWP’s best writing and images. More info: youngwritersproject.org, or contact YWP at sreid@youngwritersproject.org or 802-324-9538.

This week, we offer responses to the challenge, Haunted. Is there a house you pass by on the way to school that always gives you the creeps, or a stretch of woods nearby that you would never set foot in? Write the PG-rated tale of a haunted location, either from your imagination or by researching local/regional urban legends.

The house on Maple Street

By Zander Clark

Age 12, Post Mills

Maple Street was just a regular old street in southern Illinois. It had houses, trees, flowers, and those pesky rodents that always get into your garbage. Where the street came to an end, there was a fork. If you took the right side, you would end up at an old basketball court. It was nothing special. The grass grew up through the cracks in the pavement. Every Friday, kids who lived on the street would come and play pick-up games and such.

If you took the left side, however, you were greeted by a long, winding road. As the tar turned to dirt and the barrage of trees ended, you ran into a rather large house. It was nothing special, either. There was an old flag that hung outside. The paint on the shutters was chipped, and when it rained, the water dripped off the eaves and soaked into the walls.

The thing that was suspicious was a light in the very top part of the house, always on. This was Alex Duong reading in his study. He was an immigrant from Vietnam. Everyone thought he was crazy and senile, but the truth was that he was lonely. You see, he had lost his wife and daughter in an attack that the U.S. made on Vietnam in the war. They’d dropped many barrels of Napalm on the villages and rainforests they’d once resided in. Each night, now, he would sit in his room, reading and drinking cheap whiskey – but most of all grieving for what he had lost. All he needed was a little company.

The kids who played basketball would finish their night by going to his house and throwing rocks at his window. He never did anything about it. He would sit in his study and listen to the kids’ laughter and to the sound of the rocks hitting his house. No one really knew why he chose to sit there, listening to the plunk, plunk, plunk all night long. Was he scared? Was he comforted by the rocks hitting his house? No one really knew.

One Friday, he remembered early that they would be coming. He was expecting them at 7:30, but then came 7:35, 7:45… they were late. At 7:52 he poured himself another glass of whiskey and thought to himself, “Should I show them my face tonight?” It was 7:55 when he heard the first rock hit his window. But he didn’t show himself that night… for little did he know it was his last night on Earth. That night, he died of depression and alcohol poisoning.

The moral of the story is this: When you have a chance to give a compliment or make a kind gesture, always do it. It could make someone’s day or even save somebody’s life.


By Xavier Beaudin

Age 14, Bradford, Vt.

I could feel the house watching me,

its huge windows acting as eyes staring me down.

I could hear it calling my name,

its old boards and supports creaking with the wind.

I could see it reaching out to me,

its two dead oak trees leaning toward the sidewalk.

I could feel the house trying to suck me in,

wind blowing past me and in through the front door.

I could see its inhabitants,

shadows roaming the abandoned halls.

I could see the house smiling at me,

its porch bent from rot in the middle.

I could read the house like a story,

with its scars from abuse and fire long before I was born.

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