An Absent Child

Author: G. Jefferies




She had known something was amiss on the day her husband, Albert, gave a tour of the newly acquired property. Things moved in her peripheral vision but always ceased to exist when she turned to look directly. Then there was the smell; very faint and not always there. A scent that reminded her of lavender and something else that she couldn’t quite put her finger on.

“Why here Albert?”

“Because, my dear, it is a most splendid residence and it will be an excellent place to raise our child.”

Elisabeth could see the delight radiating from his face. It was soul destroying to see but the truth would destroy him. She smiled back.

“In that case we shall make certain everything is ready for our new arrival.”

It was four weeks to the day she became aware that she was avoiding one room in particular. At first it was just that, being at the very top of the staircase, it was not the ideal place to set up the main bedroom and nursery. This was settled to be the left wing with the right side being for guests. The room in the middle was therefore undisturbed and mightΒ  become a study at some later date. However, as time wore on she began to notice her path was actually swerving away from the door whenever passing in front of it and moving down the landing between the two side elevations.

As this thought distilled Elisabeth paused and put her ear to the door half expecting to find she was being rather silly. Unfortunately for her things took a turn for the worse.

Come in Elisabeth, we have been expecting you.

It was only a whisper in her head, but bore vitriol and carried a venom that fuelled irresistible despair. It was also hypnotic, encouraging her hand to turn a polished brass door handle despite her subconscious screaming no.

As she crossed the threshold time slowed. Elisabeth noticed the room looked much older than everywhere else and it was cold, very cold. She shivered. It reminded her of the cellar; dark, dank and dingy. This room was unloved and desperately in need of renovation.

“Is there anybody in here?”

She asked the question knowing the room was empty and that the voice had been in her mind. Idly she wandered toward the window tracing finger tips through the dust gathered on an old dressing table. The view from the window took in the Marshes. It was as if the apparent random planting of trees in the garden were not random at all when seen from this room. They provided a deciduous corridor taking the eye beyond the garden and across the wetlands to what looked like a folly. Distant and entombed in overgrowth but clearly visible from this room; almost as if it was the only place destined to be able to see it. From the grounds only an isolated copse existed far out in the Marshes.

Rumour had it that ghosts collected there. Unwary wanderers drowned in the bogs and pools whose souls crawled from the waters drawn to the tiny island of dry land. Elisabeth had considered this to be tattle designed to keep children from wandering into the Marshes. Staring at it, as she was now, made her rather more uncertain.

Not a folly Elisabeth, an unconsecrated chapel…a tomb.

The voice in her mind caught her by surprise.

“Who are you?”

Someone that can solve all your problems.

That made her smile. If only things were that simple she thought, turning away from the window and looking back into the room. The view turned from reflection into decay. On her right was a small bed covered in pink bedding that itself was overlaid in cobwebs and mould. The floor was wood and whilst Β solid there were signs that age and neglect were beginning to eat into it. The corner space left of the door was home to a mildewed rocking horse and on the floor next to it several clothes peg dolls. In places wallpaper had yielded to damp and unveiled the crumbling structure beneath. As her eyes adjusted to the gloom, Elisabeth found it impossible to believe that behind the door nobody opened no-one even knew this room existed.

It was lost in time and filled with something not in keeping with the rest of the house. Walls to either side of this room showed no sign of what existed just beyond. They were warm, clean smelling and fresh. This was an impossibility and yet here she was. Inside her heart was racing. The atmosphere was filled with something when she walked in. It was only now that she could touch it properly and the accent was fear. Clearly it was a child’s room but the residue was not of happiness but neglect and terror. Questions formed in her mind. Who was she, what happened to her, why was this room keeping itself hidden and why had it called out to her?

Elisabeth turned back to the window. With the sun at a different angle she noticed something new. The trees were arranged to view the folly, or tomb as the now absent voice had corrected her, but there was now also a trail leading through the Marshes. She blinked. It stood out so dramatically that it was astonishing she had not seen it before. Then so did the very room she was in, maybe it was connected.



The above is a short excerpt from a short story linked to the very first post on this blog an age ago. It’s set in the 1800’s and I have considered putting this piece up in its entirety, just for the hell of it. Sometimes it seems that excerpts might just not be enough for enquiring minds. Not sure though. This is an early piece from a while ago. It may not live up to current standards.



Β© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.


  1. Pingback: An Absent Child Revisted | Fiction is Food

    • That’s no time to be reading things that might disturb the sleep πŸ‘» Mind you I’m glad you did read and like it. It’s been suggested several times that I put the whole post up… So I may do that shortly…in the interim, this room features in The Room That Swallows People. I reblogged that link not too long ago. Hope you catch up on sleep when it’s lighter πŸ˜‡

      Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent….try The God Strain….that has a twist in it too…one that has me a bit, oh heck…thank you for the accolade though….I just chuck words together and cannot be held responsible for what comes out…my other ruse is I’m just a schizoid biographer. Characters do stuff, I merely record what it is πŸ™ƒ


  2. Hi Gary, here from the Blogger Collaboration Group at Mostly Blogging.

    “In places wallpaper had succumb to the damp” (I think maybe ‘succumbed’ would work better here.)

    I enjoyed this excerpt and it gave me the same feeling I would get watching those b&w horror movies from way back when, like “Fall of the House of Usher”.

    In terms of posting it all at once, or in several, my own personal choice would be for the several. That way, you would get your editorial calendar filled up more easily and (hopefully) get people returning to your blog several times.

    Hope you are having a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brilliant to see someone from there popping over…it was my first dip into that group and wasn’t really sure what to expect…it’s all still pretty new to me…great spot…no think about it, it should indeed be succumbed. Thank you for that, I get to the point where things are too known to myself and end up skim reading…familiarity breeding contempt in action kind of thing. Lovely to hear it reminded you of those movies too…I’m not a fan of gore for gores sake. I like the psychological effect of minds entering scenes and running with their imaginations.
      Great tip too…I shall take that one on board. Will certainly be visiting your blog soon too 😊


  3. Oh I love it!! Yes I would love to read the entire piece, this has made me very curious and once again intrigued.
    It’s ok to feel proud of your writing, in fact you should feel very proud! You have a gift, we all have gifts and we should embrace them. Now no more of this putting your work down…or I’ll send you to the room that swallows you!!! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much and I really appreciate you reading it given what you said about your eyes. I chose this colour scheme because another friend has photosensitivity and she said it was easier on the eyes than white…can I ask if this in any way helps you? I’m in the process of trying to find the right theme but if readers have eyes that prefer a none white background I will certainly take that onboard when setting colour schemes 😊

      As for writing….unlikely to stop now…I’ve a book with a proofer right now and am hoping to start the publishing process later in the year πŸ™ƒ


  4. Pingback: The Room That Swallows People | Fiction is Food

    • Thank you so much…was a bit unsure with it being part of something I started a while back but got side tracked on another project. That’s at a proofers now so focus can move around again.

      I may put the whole scene up at some point to give a fuller picture of what this project skirts around…although my very first blog post (which needs a major edit) features the very same room in a different time….. πŸ˜‡


        • You might be right! I got pretty bogged down in editing and going round in circles so sending it to proofer ahs been, shall we say, scary liberating! I’ll go back into the original over the next week and check it through then reblog it. Might even put this one out in full…although its not sequential to the first one. What started as an exercise in short stories kind of moved into several chapters… then paused for a bit…waiting for inspiration. Putting this one up has begun the need to finish it πŸ™‚


  5. I woke up when Justin came home from work (around midnight, my time) and stopped by to see what’s what…and, lo and behold, you…and, this…and, wow!!!!! Gary, your writing is so evocative and beautiful and rife with deep shadowy hues that make me want to come in for a closer look, even as the dark jewel tones retreat from searching eyes–pulling the reader ever further into the world you’ve created…so powerful and sooooo suspenseful…this is sooooo great….you can write no wrong, my friend….I love this and appreciate that you shared with us…thank you πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Isn’t it related to, “The room that swallowed people? I remember Elisabeth πŸ™‚ I can also remember what else happens ( well what my memory deems fit to recall πŸ˜‰

    I also love your Paranormal Brothers story line too πŸ™‚

    I think your other amazing followers are going to want to read the rest πŸ™‚

    You really are an amazing story teller, my friend. I am so glad we had that serendipitous meeting on a creative writing course πŸ™‚

    Well i’d better get back to the edit process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good grief, your memory is better than mind !!! Mind you, that storyline is going to get a rejig. I decided I like it but it needs a few tweaks to bring it up to scratch.

      You are right though my arm of the community here is awesome every last one of them. Best move I made was to start blogging after a very long hiatus πŸ€”


  7. You never cease to amaze me Gary! I remember this story and I think this was one of the first I got to read from you.

    You know I adore this time period and your description evokes that era not to mention goosebumps as to who or what occupied “that’ room once before.

    I loved it. I love all your writing. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

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