My partner and I had both been renting homes our whole adult life. Buying was never something that I had in sight, being that I was first married as a SAHM on one low income with three kids, then moved to being a single mum on even less of one income, still with three kids.
So it had never crossed my mind as it simply seemed a distant dream of ridiculous proportions in comparison to where I sat.
Slowly but surely, I studied and built a career. My children grew older and started school, allowing me to go back to work, then I met and partnered with my soulmate.
Financially, we moved from one lower class income each to two, which placed us squarely in middle class, changing our options completely.
We dated for a couple of years then moved in together in my rental.
Living there was never ideal.
Where I lived was a cheap and equally reflective neighbourhood. The socio-economic state of the place meant we were surrounded by many, unfortunate things. Drug deals at the end of the street were common place. Screaming matches and violence echoed over our fences as often as the sound of magpies in the mornings.
My partner was now over an hour and a half commute away from his work. He got frustrated quickly and suggested we needed to move.
Finally, as we were drifting to sleep one evening, we heard a loud banging at the door. I pulled back the curtains to our bedroom, cautiously, and was met with flashing red and blue lights lined all the way down our street.
The police came inside and asked us if we had heard any commotion. When we said no, our eyes rattled and wondering, they casually let us know there had been a stabbing next door. A woman had murdered her boyfriend. She had stabbed him straight in the heart then, panicking, dialled in 000.
We made the decision quickly, after that, and put together some numbers.
It would be hard, and we’d need to save some more, but if we could go one more year in a cheaper rental, we would have a great deposit for a small, starter townhouse in a decent area.
I looked for cheap rentals closer to the city, and we settled on the sacrifice of a small unit.
It was just south of the city. It only had two bedrooms, but here was the fabulous thing.
The unit was a “split into three” classic Queenslander home. It was old, disheveled and worn. Peeling paint and marked floors were staples all throughout it. The ceilings were four meters high, the rooms dark and looming, and its windows were rusting lever-pulled glass panes that barely opened a crack to let in the air from outside.
But it was much cheaper than where we were, close to the city and could easily last us out one lease to help us save for our home.
It was covered ceiling to floor in intricate designs. The ceiling made patterns, swirls, curls and stars around each light, across the cracked wood and into the decorative trims. Each hallway had charming lattice work forming from squares into circles. The walls were vertical wooden planks, each placed side by side to create the room it held in. The amount of design work and labour that would have gone into this thing, back when it was a brand new structural marvel, impressed me beyond words.
We moved in within the week and started our temporary journey.
On our first night in the home, I let myself drift to sleep, acknowledging the new creaking and bumping sounds of the night that came with our new abode.
The next morning, I woke up colder than expected. A draft was blowing in from the hallway nearest to the front door.
Surely it isnt open? I thought.
I had closed and locked it last night. I had even drawn across the sliding chain lock, just to be sure we were safe. To be fair, we were just south of the city.
My mouth dropped open as I saw it. The door, in fact, had been opened. It was open just enough to let in the breeze from outside. The chain, still drawn across, held it from moving any more.
No way.. I thought. I definitely shut that last night!
I became disturbed and upset. I rationalized, in my mind, that someone must still have the old key. We had heard that the last tenant was quite dodgy, so I called the real estate immediately.
She laughed me off for suggesting the tenant had been.
Not only did she certainly not have a key, the entire houses locks had been changed since she left.
Wow.. I thought, she must have been a real pain.
But the door had not been forced in, at all. It was opened without any damage. It had to have been with a key.
I ended up shrugging it off. I am quite forgetful at times. Maybe I had let the dog out and forgotten to shut it properly at some ungodly hour of the night.
Everything seemed normal after that, until the shaking began.
Now the house had lots of creaks and bumps. The whole thing was eeery on it’s own. It certainly didnt need any extra.
But one morning, at some god forsaken hour, I woke up.
What woke me was a sensation. The entire bed was rocking back and forth. Shaking as if caught in an earthquake.
I looked around me, bedhead and all, processing what was going on.
Was my partner ferociously scratching or something. I looked over to his side of the bed, and met with his open eyes.
He was looking back at me, the same exact confusion was written across his face.
We sat up, witnessing our bed still shaking. Rhythmically it moved, back and forth. Back and forth. With seemingly no explanation.
Suddenly, the rocking just.. stopped.
We looked at each other in shock.
An Earthquake? Is the house falling down? What on Earth? Nothing else in the house had moved. The walls hadnt been shaking. The furniture had remained still. Only our bed, where we resided had come to life. Was something sending us a message?
Lost on what to think or do, we tried to go back to sleep.
From the corner of my eye as I drifted off into the night, I swear I saw a black mass, looming over us from across the end of the room.
This happened several more times over the course of our time in that house. Doors slammed on their own then reopened. The bed shook in the night. Shadows flickered, morphed and moved from the corners of our eyes. Even my youngest son, spoke of a man, dressed strangely, talking to him in his dreams.
We ended our lease a year ago this June, and purchased our first, perfect home. As far as I know, the Queenslander was bought and re-located for renovations by an excited new investor.
You could say it was all a coincidence, and to be honest I’m a natural skeptic. But certain things in that home just felt strange. Even without the unexplained, I felt there was something else there. I hope whatever it is, it finds peace, and leaves alone others who cross it.