Ghost Story for Child
The Fireplace, by Paul Arinaga
© 2005 Paul Arinaga. All rights reserved.
It’s said that these events actually happened. And they may have happened in a house much like yours, in a neighborhood much like yours.
Jason and Jacqueline were newlyweds. They had been married for just under one year. They were still very much in love.
Jason was a tall, handsome man with a cheerful ring in his voice. Jacqueline had beautiful, long brown hair, green eyes and a soft lilt in her sweet voice.
Every evening, they both rushed home from work so that they’d have plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company.
They particularly enjoyed sipping on a glass of wine in front of the fireplace. Only, they never lit a fire.
Every night Jason asked his wife: "Wouldn’t it be nice to light a fire in the fireplace?"
And every night she answered: "Why don’t we do it another time, dear."
Or: "I think it will make the living room too dusty with soot and ash."
Or: "Perhaps we need to have the chimney cleaned first."
Or: "Isn’t it too hot tonight?"
And every night Jason said: "Oh…well, OK."
And that was that.
Still, as small a thing as it might seem, Jason really thought that it would be great to light a fire in the fireplace. Then he and Jacqueline could snuggle up on the sofa while they sipped their nightly glass of wine.
So, one day, Jason decided to surprise Jacqueline. He left work early and on the way home he stopped at the store. He purchased logs and tinder.
When he got home he made a roaring fire.
Then he opened a bottle of the best red wine they had and sat down on the couch to wait for Jacqueline to come home.
Pretty soon he got thirsty. So, he poured himself a glass of wine and one for Jacqueline, too.
As Jason sipped on his wine, he thought to himself: "This is great! Jacqueline is going to love this!"
He’d had a busy day at work and it was warm in the living room so pretty soon he fell asleep.
Only, Jason wasn’t quite sure if he was really asleep or awake. He FELT like he was asleep, but he seemed to still be sitting on the sofa in front of the fireplace.
Anyway, he couldn’t quite be sure, but he thought he heard strange noises. They sounded like the screams of people in pain. Jason shivered despite the warm fire.
Then Jason thought he smelled a horrible smell. The room began to fill with smoke and Jason could barely see.
Just then he heard the key in the front door.
He got up off the sofa clutching the two wine glasses, very excited to see Jacqueline despite the strange noises, bad smells and smoke.
He got to the front door and nearly fell down in shock.
An old woman had entered the house. She wore the same dress and necklace as Jacqueline, but everything else about her was different. Her hair was grey and tangled. Her face was wrinkled and her nose was crooked. Her teeth stuck out at different angles. And her eyes were a fiery, fearsome red instead of a beautiful, placid green.
A thousand thoughts raced through Jason’s head in an instant. This was Jacqueline’s mother? A monster had eaten Jacqueline and put on her clothes? Jacqueline was playing a joke on him? He’d had too much to drink? It must be a bad dream?
Then the woman spoke: "I thought I told you," she said in a low voice. "Never, EVER light a fire in the fireplace!" her voice grew to a shrill roar.
Jason was so surprised that he dropped the two wine glasses. They crashed to the floor.
"You’ve found the bodies," shrieked the woman, "now, you must join them!"
She lunged towards Jason and, grabbing his arm, tried to throw him into the fireplace.
Jason was stunned, but he managed to dodge out of the way. Without another thought he ran out the open front door and down the street.
After running for two blocks he finally stopped, his heart still pounding from fear and excitement. He looked back and saw that his house was on fire.
Without thinking he ran back to his house to rescue Jacqueline.
But when he got there the house was completely engulfed in flames. The firemen finally put out the fire after fighting it for two hours.
A few hours later the fire inspector came by to determine the cause of the fire.
"Have you been storing wood or fuel in the chimney?" he asked.
"No, sir," replied Jason, "why do you ask?"
"It seems that someone lit a fire in the fireplace and that a highly combustible material there caught fire. Basically, your chimney just blew up."
"Oh," said Jason, and then he proceeded to tell the fire inspector the whole story about the strange woman.
The fire inspector eyed him suspiciously and then said: "You must be in shock. No bodies were found in the house so I don’t think there was anyone there, and if there was, she must have escaped."
Jason never found out what happened. He never again saw the strange old woman, and his beautiful wife, Jacqueline disappeared. She’d last been seen leaving work.
Jason moved away and spent many years trying to find Jacqueline, but he never did.
And what of the house? The charred remains of the house are still there. Jason tried to sell the property, but no one wanted it.
People say that it’s haunted. Neighbors report that on dark nights they see fires glowing and hear shrieks of pain coming from the empty lot.
Ghost hunters (people who research supernatural phenomena) have tried to track down Jason and the location of the burnt out house, but no one seems to know where they are.
They could be anywhere…
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