Click here to download the first part of China White in the ongoing short story series: Thrills and Shivers 2010
or read the posted story here.
Dakota stared lazily out the back seat window; the constant scrolling of pine trees put her in a half sleep stupor. Unlike her mother, Dakota never became car sick, which helped her deal with the six-hour drive through the Colorado Mountains.
The rental truck carrying all of their belongings was a full day ahead of them, and had probably already arrived at the family’s new estate.
Her father, a former real estate agent from Arizona, was considering the move away from his home town of Phoenix ever since Dakota had been born. He found their new property through professional connections; the asking price dropped considerably with the failing economy, and her father jumped at the opportunity. The brochure and web-ad really presented the house (a small mansion) amazingly, and Dakota would have been more excited if she didn’t have to give up all of her school and neighborhood friends. Where they were moving, there wasn’t even a neighborhood.
The house, according to the brochure, was built in 1947 for the poet Robert Banes and his secret male lover. The estate sat on three acres (one acre grass, two acres woodland) and was located about ten minutes away from the nearest town of Monte Sombra. It was three stories, not including a basement, with a giant wrought iron spiral staircase in the atrium that led all the way to the attic bedroom, which Dakota had already claimed in her mind. Her mind ran wild with all of the adventurous possibilities of living in such a bedroom.
The previous owner had been a metal-smith artist, designing statues for city parks all over the United States. He died without an heir, leaving the property and surrounding gardens filled with all his creations: lawn ornaments, patio furniture, garden gates, and fountains. Her father, a man of practicality, wanted to get rid of all the works of art, in an effort to enhance a more post-modern professional appearance; he intended on turning the former workshop into a home office. Luckily, Dakota’s mother, Mrs. Catherine Blake, had sided with her on the protest, and the art pieces stayed.
Dakota loved one aspect of the new house more than any of the rest, and that was the graveyard. The property line ran adjacent to the town’s original graveyard from the 1800’s. As far as she could tell from the website’s virtual tour, the only way to access the abandoned graveyard was a small footpath that ran from the base of the driveway into the woods. A plot of land filled with dead people wasn’t as appealing to her as everything above ground. She loved the cracked marble angels, the vines, iron fence posts, and the blanket of leaves. Rather than getting the creeps from standing above a bunch of dead people, Dakota found beauty in the peace of rest. Fond of games, she would try and find as many gravestones as she could that shared her name, or she would try and find the oldest marked grave.