Letters Under the Floorboards


Author: Siena Goodney – Second Place Senior Division 2022

In two years, I have lived in seven different houses and four different states, and those numbers are about to get bigger.

“Welcome to Charlotte, Missouri,” said my mom as we drove over the city limits.

I didn’t say anything. I was still upset we had to move again. I was beginning to fit in, in our last town. Then my mom’s job forced us to move again, and here we are. My mom works as a traveling nurse and is constantly being relocated. I love my mom, but I really wish we could stay in one place. We pulled up to our new house. It is white with a small front porch and black shutters. It has an eerie look with the cracked paint and the vines crawling up the siding like snakes. It looked like a house from a horror movie.

I grabbed a box from the back of our car and went inside.

“This is your room; you can start unpacking but don’t be up too late. You have school tomorrow,” said my mom.

My room was a pale yellow with lace curtains surrounding a window. It has a small dresser, and a twin sized bed. I set down the box and started unpacking. The box was mostly filled with clothes, so I moved to the closet. The door screeched as I pulled it open, revealing a big walk-in closet. I walked in and started putting the clothes on the shelves. Beneath me I heard a floorboard squeak, curiously, I bent down to examine it. One side was slightly lifted, so I decided to try and pry it open. I was easily able to lift the floorboard. I was filled with a mix of excitement and anticipation as I looked inside the little space. There was a tarnished metal box. I carefully took it out and opened the box, eager to see what was inside. I opened the lid and found a dozen written letters. I took one out and started to read.

Monday, September 9th

Dear diary,

Yesterday I moved in. I don’t like it here. The house freaks me out. Today was my first day of school. It went ok. But I was late for the first hour. And ended up with homework in that class. I met this one girl named Emma. I had a few classes with her, and she asked if I wanted to sit by her at lunch. Well, I should probably go do my homework. I will write later.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it definitely was not that. It just seemed so normal and modern, like something someone my age would write. I decided not to worry since I do start school tomorrow and it was getting late. I stumbled downstairs and grabbed another box labeled “Leah’s bedroom stuff” and brought it to my new room. I made my bed with the contents of the box and quickly fell asleep.

* * *

“MOM! Do you know where my blue shirt is?” I yelled to my mom who was in the kitchen making breakfast. I woke up late this morning and now had to rush.

“I have it right here, Leah,” she replied calmly as she walked out with it in her hands.

“Thank you!” I said, relieved.

“Also, here is your lunch, have a good first day,” said my mom.

“Thank you.”

I ran to my car, nearly slipping on the wet grass, and drove away quickly. Naturally I hit every light driving to school and ran in late to my first hour. My teacher, Mr. Higgins, had already started teaching. He gave me a look that made me shrink into myself. Man, was I off to a great start! Keeping my head down, I went to a seat in the back.

“Hi, I’m Emma. You must be new,” whispered the brunette girl sitting next to me.

“Y-yeah, um, I’m Leah,” I stuttered.

“So, what do you think of Charlotte High?” she asked.

“Umm, it’s ok, I guess.” I replied.

She had just opened her mouth to ask another question, when Mr. Higgins bellowed at us to stop talking.

“He seems like a great guy,” I whispered sarcastically after a minute or two.

“Yeah, all the other teachers are fine, but he is a nightmare. Hey, do you want to sit with me at lunch?” she asked.

“Sure,” I replied.

* * *

I walked into the cafeteria and searched the room for Emma. The cafeteria was dingy with the dim lighting and plain walls. The fluorescence made it feel like a dream.  Finally, I found her sitting alone at a round table. She was reading a book and had an untouched tray of food in front of her.

“Hey,” I murmured.

“Oh hey,” she said excitedly. “How is your first day going?”

“Pretty good,” I replied.

“So, tell me about yourself.”

“Well, I am an only child and I live with my mom. My dad is not really in the picture. But my mom and I are super close. She is my best friend; we do everything together. She is a travelling nurse, and we have to move a lot because of that. Which is kind of annoying.”

“Where did you move?” she asked.

“Oh, um, we got a really good deal on the white house on the corner of Fair and Main Street.” Emma’s face went pale. “Why are you looking at me like that?” I asked skeptically.

“Because that house is haunted!” she whispered.

“Haha, very funny,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“No, I am not kidding. Bad things always happen to the people who live there. There is a reason you got a good deal.”

* * *

I drove home unseeingly. Though my first day of school was pretty normal, except for lunch, something about it made me feel uneasy. I had this strange sense of déjà vu after my first hour. I couldn’t figure out why; it frustrated me that I didn’t know what it was. Just then I pulled into the driveway of my new house, though I didn’t remember driving there. I grabbed my backpack and went inside. Once I got into my room, I started on my homework from Mr. Higgins class.

Finally, finished with my homework I started unpacking again. I opened my closet door and it instantly hit me why I had the feeling of déjà vu. The letters! I threw down the box and pried open the floorboard. I reread the letter I read last night.

Monday, September 9th

Dear diary,

Yesterday I moved in. I don’t like it here. The house freaks me out. Today was my first day of school. It went ok. But I was late for the first hour. And ended up with homework in that class. I met this one girl named Emma. I had a few classes with her and she asked if I wanted to sit by her at lunch. Well, I should probably go do my homework. I will write later.

       Everything that happened in the letter happened to me! I couldn’t breathe. It couldn’t be a coincidence. It was too specific. No! It has to be a coincidence. There is no reason to freak out. I decided that the only way to test it was to read another letter. If that one came true, then I could freak out.  I grabbed another letter and started to read.

Monday, September 9th

Dear diary,

The new neighbors brought over chocolate chip muffins as a housewarming gift. My mom said they are super nice, they have a boy around my age and mom says we should get to know each other. Anyways, that’s all for now.

This letter was written on the same day as the other one. If all this happens by tonight, then I will know it is true.

* * *

“Hey, honey! How was your first day of school?”

“It was good,” I replied. I didn’t want to tell her about the letters just yet.

“That’s good. Ooh look what the neighbors brought over while you were at school,” she exclaimed. In her hands was a plate full of chocolate chip muffins. I wanted to scream, or cry, but no sound came out of my mouth.

“They have a boy around your age, you should hang out with him sometimes. If he’s anything like his parents, he is probably really nice.” She rambled. I sprinted for the stairs, tripping on the way up. I slammed the door and locked it hastily. I opened the closet door and grabbed the tin box. I felt anxious and sort of excited to see what the other letters said. Yes, the situation is pretty scary, but the letters can tell me my future! Who wouldn’t want to know what would happen to them throughout the day? I could hear my mom yelling for me to open up my door, but I ignored her. I grabbed the next letter and read it.

Tuesday, September 10th

Dear diary,

I don’t feel anything. I just feel numb. Maybe I am in denial. Maybe I will realize she is truly gone at the funeral next week. I just refuse to believe my mom is dead.

My blood turns to ice. Emma was right, bad things do happen to the people who live here. If the letters do tell the future, and if the date on the top of the letter is right, I have 24 hours until my mom dies.

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