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  1. #1
    Haunted House - a family plot

    Haunted House - a family plot

    September 4th, 2016 - 6 a.m.

    Grandpa Jonah's farm - The bus station - The farm

    As usual, Jonah Allerton had been up for a while already. He had gotten used to waking up with the sun from an early age, and it was a habit he could not shake, even now that he was the farm's owner, and not a farm hand anymore. Old habits die hard, after all. He also believed that keeping an eye on everything was important, so the man would check on everything around the farm every day first thing after breakfast.

    Today, though, was a special day, and that would have to wait. Today was the day the house would become less empty. As much as he would never admit, Jonah felt really lonely in that huge farm. Not for long, though, as he would have his granddaughters coming in, with their families.

    It was true that the girls were coming for a bad reason. They had all fallen into hard times through no fault of their own, and now needed a place to live. Jonah felt very blessed to be able to welcome them all and ease their burden, as they wouldn't have to worry about paying rent and keeping a roof over their heads. Sure, it wouldn't be forever. They would eventually get back on their feet and leave for the city life again. Well, maybe not Maggie, the man mused. Maggie had always loved the farm. Maybe she would want to stay and take over when he no longer could. He was sure the other girls wouldn't really want to stay, but he would welcome them for as long as they needed him to.

    With a deep sigh, the man hopped in the old truck he used to make his way pretty much anywhere that required a car. He had considered getting a newer car a few times, but it wasn't worth the expense. The roads in the area were so bad any regular car just wouldn't do, so he kept using his old piece of junk truck. It was time to go to the bus station and wait for Margareth to get to the nearest town, and then drive her and little Nicholas over to the farm. She had sold the car, as it brought too many bad memories, and she could use the money, after all. He would have to call Marissa later and make sure they wouldn't need him to meet them and lead them back to the farm. It seemed like everything was about to change, indeed. He hoped that they could adapt to life in there, and the kids could live well in there as well. It would be for a while, after all.

    His mind was focused in the future while Jonah drove to the station. It took him almost two hours to get there, and he sighed in relief. Margareth wasn't there yet. He wouldn't want her to wait for him. She was already so stressed with all that had happened, the man wouldn't want to cause his granddaughter any more worries. Relaxing, he turned off the engine and waited. As the bus came up to the station - late as usual -,Jonah stepped out of the old truck and waited. He gave his granddaughter a silent hug, as he really didn't know exactly what to say. "Come on, baby, let's go home", he murmured after kissing little Nicholas.

    "What about Marissa and her folks?", she asked quietly. The man shook his head. "I'm not sure exactly what they will do, or even if they are coming in today", he explained. Margareth picked up her phone from her purse as she took the passenger seat and fumbled with the seat belt. "No reception at all", she commented with a sigh. Jonah nodded. "I will call when we get home, while you get settled", he replied, finishing getting Maggie's and Nick's bags secured at the back and getting on the driver's seat.

    As they finally drove off, he finally managed a few words. "I'm sorry, baby". Maggie sighed and nodded, her eyes on the road. "Thanks, grandpa. For everything", she replied, keeping silent for the rest of the trip back to the farm.

  2. #2
    Ivy and Michaela Allerton

    The social worker's sedan bumped down the rutted road. Ivy, in the passenger seat, twisted her hands together until her knuckles were white. Michaela, in the back seat, clutched the handle of her duffel bag as if it might escape if she loosened her grip. The social worker had tried to make conversation, but neither twin had been much inclined to speak, so the conversation had petered out and the past half hour had been mostly quiet.

    "You're lucky that your grandfather was willing to take you in," the social worker said. "Not everyone has relatives willing to step up to the plate for an absent parent."

    Ivy nodded vaguely. Michaela didn't respond at all.

    "Make sure you behave yourselves there," the social worker admonished them. "You want this to work out. You don't want to end up in a children's shelter or a group home. And if things don't work out for you to go live with your father again, it would give you a place to live permanently..."

    "We live with our father," Michaela interrupted. "We don't need to live somewhere permanently. We just need somewhere to stay till he gets out of jail."

    "As soon as he's out, we're going home," Ivy added quietly.

    The rest of the drive to the farm was spent in awkward silence.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  3. #3
    Marissa Sanders

    Marissa Sanders sadly sighed as she helped her husband, Justin, pack up their car. They, and their two children, had been staying in a hotel since they had to sign over their house back to the bank. That had been an awful day, it felt like all their dreams had died. That was the house Marissa had hoped to grow old in. Marissa and Justin had tried everything to keep their house, selling off a lot of their things, taking out too many loans, but in the end, the debt had been too much. They had to admit defeat. And ask for help...That had been hard for Marissa. She didn't want to admit to her family she had failed. That she couldn't help her husband provide a home for their sons.

    Of course, Grandpa didn't try to make her feel like a loser. If anything, Marissa felt that he wished she had told him sooner what was going on. Grandpa Jonah had opened his home to her and her family. Telling her and Justin that they, and the boys, could stay as long as they needed to get back on their feet. Which was good, as much debt as they had accumulated since Ross' birth, it would take time to pay it off and begin to start again. That was her goal, she thought. She and Justin would get back on their feet and buy another house. This time pay it out write and have no mortgage. They could do it, it would just take time.

    Randal, who was six and their older son, asked as they got into the car.

    "So we going to Grandpa's now?"

    Marissa nodded her head.

    "Yes, and Aunt Maggie and Nicholas will be there. So, will your cousins Ivy and Michaela."

    Marissa and her family weren't the only ones that had fallen on hard times in the Allerton family. It seemed bad things had to happened to everyone this year.

    "It'll be lots of fun. Like when we visit Grandpa for Christmas."

  4. #4
    Justin Sanders

    Since the day he had lost his job at the factory, Justin Sanders had felt like a loser. It had been two years ago and he and his wife hadn't been able to recover from it. Especially not when Ross, their younger son, had been born just a month before he was laid off. Justin had been working his ass off in low paying part time jobs but didn't do any good. He had been making good money at the factory and that was how he and Marissa were used to living. They had bought a house they couldn't afford on his new pay. It had been a matter of time before it happened. They had just ruined their credit rating with loans and credit cards before they accepted it. It was going to take time to dig themselves out of the hole they created.

    At least, Marissa's grandfather would help them. Letting them stay in house rent free. That would help but Justin still planned to give Jonah some money from each of his paychecks. Even if it was twenty five dollars a week. Justin didn't want Jonah to think he couldn't try to help out. Someday, he and Marissa would get back on their feet and have their own house again. Although everything would be bought with cash. No more loans or credit cards. Justin had learned from that mistake. And he'd keep looking for a full time job. He'd take care of his wife and sons.

    For now, though, they'd be living with his in-laws. Although they weren't the only ones down on their luck. His sister-in-law had lost her husband and two of Marissa's cousins needed to be placed with Jonah while their father was in jail. Ross was too young to really understand what was going on. Randal, though, was more aware. Losing their house had been hard on him, he had lived in the house since he was a toddler. He didn't fully understand why they couldn't go back home.

    At least Randal seemed excited about seeing his extended family, Justin thought. Justin was driving them to Jonah's house when Randal asked

    "How long will we living with Grandpa?"

    "For a little while, buddy."

    Justin replied and his son.

    "Until Christmas?"

    "Yeah, I think so."

    And probably long after that, but Justin didn't want to dump that all on his son.

    "Will Santa be able to find us?"

    Randal asked, a little worried. Every Christmas the six year old could remember Santa Claus brought the presents to his house and then the family went to visit Grandpa in the afternoon. Justin smiled at his son in the rear view mirror.

    "Don't worry, Santa will always be able to find us."

    Randal smiled, relieved at that news. Justin was glad that he seemed to ease his son's mind about Santa Claus finding them as he drove his family to the Allerton farm.

  5. #5
    Ivy and Michaela Allerton

    The social worker's car finally pulled off the rutted road and into the farmhouse driveway. Ivy continued to stare fixedly at her hands in her lap, but Michaela looked up at the house, taking it all in. The place was old, no doubt about that - and it seemed huge, at least compared to their tiny apartment back in the city.

    "Isn't it nice?" the social worker chirped with forced cheerfulness. "I bet you'll get to have your own rooms. You didn't have that before, did you?"

    The girls shook their heads. Home was a one-bedroom apartment. The girls shared the small bedroom, and their dad slept on the couch. Having their own rooms hadn't even been a possibility on the horizon.

    "I'd still rather be home," Ivy whispered to Michaela after the social worker had stepped out of the car, and Michaela nodded agreement.

    The social worker gave them an impatient glance and gesture to get moving, and the twins scrambled out of the sedan. Michaela didn't like the way the social worker was scrutinizing their small pieces of luggage, clearly wondering why they didn't have more possessions. That meant yet another thing she was going to blame on their dad, like it was his fault he had to struggle so hard to make ends meet. Did this woman not understand that he was trying his best?

    The twins hung back as the social worker knocked on the door.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 09-10-2016 at 10:39 PM.

  6. #6
    Jonah Allerton & Margareth Blake

    As soon as they got in the house, Margareth carrying Nicholas and Jonah carrying their luggage, Maggie sighed in relief. It was so good to be back to the farm. In there, she felt safe and at home. That, and she was happy they weren’t in the car anymore, as she had been starting to feel a little carsick. Luckily enough, she was home and would be able to take some rest and feel better. As soon as she had taken the time she needed, Maggie planned on helping around the farm and making it a home for Nicholas.

    Before going to the farm, Maggie had made clear for Jonah that she didn’t plan on being a burden. The young woman explained that she would not move in if he planned on treating her like a guest. Jonah hadn’t been too happy, but he decided that it was for the best to be silent. At least, this would convince Maggie to stay. So, Jonah agreed.

    Placing a kiss on his granddaughter’s cheek, Jonah walked upstairs with her. “I have made sure to get fresh sheets put on the bed, as I was sure you would be tired. For now, dear, rest up and think about nothing. Once you wake up, we’ll start sorting everything out”.

    Maggie nodded and murmured a quiet ‘thank you’ to Jonah, before taking a shower and giving her son one, too, and then put on house clothes before heading to bed.
    Seeing that Maggie and Nick were settled, Jonah let them relax and went back downstairs. He was happy to have them there, even though it saddened him to know the reason why they needed to move in.

    Once downstairs, Jonah checked the wall clock and compared it with his own. It was early enough that he could do some work around the house and keep an eye out for the road, and hear the phone if it happened to ring. Deciding that, he started checking all of the windows, and found one that needed repairs.

    He was busy with this task when the knocks sounded on the door. Putting his hammer down, Jonah made sure he had actually heard knocks, and then placed the hammer in his back pocket, going to the door.

    As he opened it, Jonah blinked in surprise. It was odd to see a stranger at his doorstep, but the man was polite. “May I help you?”, he asked, his view of the girls blocked for now.

  7. #7
    Ivy and Michaela Allerton

    The social worker stepped forward and shook Jonah's hand, taking a surreptitious look behind him to see the state of the house. Seeing nothing of concern, she smiled.

    "Hello, Mr. Allerton," she said. "My name is Lisa Greer, from the Department of Children and Families. Ivy and Michaela are here. I assume you were expecting them?"

    It was a rhetorical question, of course. The state didn't merely plop children down on someone's doorstep, even if it was a relative. The fitness of the home had already been ascertained, as had Jonah's willingness to accept temporary custody of the twins.

    Ivy gave Jonah a tentative smile. Michaela barely managed a half-smile, feeling paralyzed by anxiety and the strangeness of the situation.

    "They said we're going to stay with you until... until Dad gets home," Ivy told him.

  8. #8
    Jonah Allerton

    Jonah was glad that the woman had gotten there when he was home, since he had needed to leave the house to bring Maggie home, and might have to leave again if Justin and Marissa needed help at the last stretch of the road. He was also glad that he had always kept the house tidy and with everything in order. It was important, he knew, when it came to placing young kids under someone’s care.

    When the social worker introduced herself, Jonah shook her hand firmly. “Of course, Miss Greer, thank you for bringing them in”, the man replied politely.

    Once he looked at the girls, Jonah smiled back at them. He imagined it wasn’t an easy situation for them, but he planned on making things as easy as possible for the girls. Ivy would get a brief hug, and Jonah would ruffle Michaela’s hair a little, feeling that he needed to tread more carefully with her.

    “Come on in, girls. Please, don’t feel like you need to ask for anything. This is your house until you go back home”, the man offered while picking up the bags. “I have two rooms set for you, one facing the other, come on up”, Jonah invited. “Cousin Maggie is here too, she will be staying with us for a while. I’m not sure you remember her”, the man carried on speaking while waiting for the girls to follow him upstairs. “Don’t worry about anything, all right? You girls can do whatever you want, and don’t need to worry about interacting with anyone you don’t feel comfortable with. We’ll take things one day at a time”, Jonathan promised, stopping in the middle of a hallway, between two open doors. Both rooms had enough space, and they each had a dresser, a closet and a single bed. “I hope the rooms are okay for you girls - you can choose which one each of you wants”, he offered, waiting for them to make their choice so he could help them get settled.

  9. #9
    Ivy and Michaela Allerton

    Jonah earned some points with the girls for his greeting, and even more for understanding that they were going home sometime soon. To Ivy and Michaela, it seemed like most people they'd met since this whole ordeal started had forgotten that. People didn't seem to remember that they already had a family... or if they did, assumed that their family didn't have the same worth as everyone else's just because their father had made a mistake.

    In the children's shelter where they'd been staying the past few days, there were kids who had been badly mistreated. Children whose parents had abused them, or failed to provide for their basic needs. It had never been like that for Ivy and Michaela. They'd been poor, and their father had struggled with addiction, but he had never mistreated them and had done his best to make sure they had a good life. This social worker didn't seem to see that, though. She seemed to see them as just generic foster kids - different faces with the same story. The twins were glad their grandfather wasn't making the same mistake.

    "Okay," Michaela said when their grandfather said they could each pick a room, and Ivy nodded. Ivy had gravitated toward the slightly bigger room, but Michaela didn't mind. She liked the gable window and the light blue walls of the other one. Michaela thought idly how odd it was that for once, she wasn't jealous of her sister. Maybe being away from home was showing them both that they were in this together.

    The social worker trailed behind a bit awkwardly, doggedly insistent on seeing the girls settled in before she left, even though the twins found her presence the opposite of comforting.

    "You shouldn't have much in the way of behavior problems," Lisa Greer told Jonah. "They've done fine in the children's shelter, and we've gotten good reports from the school. In spite of the obvious neglect by their father..."

    At the word 'neglect,' Ivy turned pale and Michaela interrupted the social worker by deliberately dropping her bag with a loud thump. Michaela's hands balled into fists, and she looked like she was about to tear into Mrs. Greer for what she was saying about their dad.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 09-26-2016 at 10:28 PM.

  10. #10
    Jonah Allerton & Margareth Allerton Blake

    Jonah really hoped he could provide a comfortable and safe environment for his two granddaughters. He was sure they had already gone through enough with their father being taken to jail, and then a shelter. He would have loved to have prevented them from staying in that place at all, but there wasn’t anything that could be done now. He had to look ahead and try to help the girls.

    After showing them the rooms, the man allowed the girls to have some space to make their choice. He wanted to give them space and respect their right to choose, as much as possible. They were old enough to make their own decisions in a lot, so he didn’t plan on taking this right away from them.

    Miss Greer, though, didn’t seem like she would cooperate. When the woman mentioned neglect, the man could notice the shift in the air. Before something could cause even more complications, Jonah stepped between the girls and the woman. “Thank you, Miss Greer”, he replied, gentle, but firm. “I’m sure the girls and I can take things up from here on. I will walk you out”. It wasn’t a request. He was informing her that it was time to go, but of course, he would have to wait for the social worker to actually want to come with him.

    Attracted by the noise of the bag falling to the ground and the voices, Margareth opened the door to the room she had been resting in, her son sleeping in her arms. She was still sleepy, but it was impossible not to notice that the air was heavy. Seeing her cousins, the young woman decided to focus on them, and not on the woman who seemed to be causing the discomfort.

    With a tired smile, she looked at them both. “Hey, girls. It’s really good to see you. Do you need any help getting settled?”, the woman offered, trying to get their attention to herself and to getting their things in place while grandpa dealt with the woman.

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