I can no longer do the things I did before, I can not go out on the street without thinking about how much has happened to me...
Many years have passed to now, but still can not forget.
My life has changed... and I will never go back... Every time I pass in front of the house, a chill runs through me back and my senses stimulated by the memory transmit alarm signals to my brain.
I can not forget... I do not WANT to forget!
What happened, I wonder... I do not know if I'll ever be able to tell all had happened. Even writing, as I am doing now, I reopened a wound still bleeding...
Yet I have to try, my psychologist says I have to overcome what has happened to me... he says I have to metabolize and according to him, write and talk about what has happened to me can only make me well!
I'm not so sure, but what else can I do?
It was 1989, when I moved to Legnano, I had found a job in a company as an engineer in the area of production. A well paid job but it took a lot of time. I had to travel often and I had no way to spend much time with my wife. Anyway, from time to time, I took her with me. She liked to travel a lot so took advantage of my business trips to visit the capitals of Europe, to buy books and novels sometimes, but more often ancient texts that she said to worship. She knew several languages other than Italian. French, English, Spanish, but also dead languages such as Latin and ancient Greek not scared at all, and every time I went to work in a country where they spoke an unknown language, for she was a party. Preparing his case quickly, accurately she selected carefully grammars and books that could have been useful and, a few weeks before departure, began to study the new language then promptly practiced and deepened on the spot. I never could understand how he did... but for her it was simple, it seemed that languages do not have secrets, and it also began to be useful for my work. Having a personal interpreter and total trust in him is not for everyone indeed! After a year of hard work the company decided to hire me as a manager so I had to take care of large contracts with foreign countries. The activity was booming and I would take a percentage for each new contract. I accepted without thinking so much and also my wife, Anna, was happy.
It was time to afford buying a home of our own, would be our palace. Then we lived near the train station, in a building of the 50s, in an attic room simply furnished, one bedroom, a kitchenette, which opened onto a terrace that overlooked the station, a really tiny bathroom and a second bedroom that I used as a studio and Anna as a library, with a single large black leather chair in the middle and we shared a table always covered with books and projects. All around a dark wood bookcase overloaded with books and a lamp on the wall made the environment intriguing and welcoming.
The books came from all over the world and probably all languages were represented, such as the UN palace and, maybe, more! When we decided to buy the house we had no idea about what to buy, the only requirement was space for books of Anna and my studio, which at the time was too small. For the rest everything was fine.
We started to go out at night looking for an area that we liked. We walked on foot several times throughout the city of Legnano, we pushed up to Castellanza, in Busto Arsizio and also visited the neighboring countries but could not find anything that met our needs and was well within our reach. Every evening, weather permitting, we did miles, carefully watching the houses, the gardens, the people... looking for what would become our home.
One night brighter than usual, accompanied by a full moon and the sky strangely free from clouds, we noticed, a few meters from the river Olona, a dilapidated old house, almost completely covered with ivy, dry, sagging gabled roofs. The windows were closed the dark wood hanging by a hinge iron corroded by time and rain, creaking in the wind. We looked at each other, smiling. It looked like the Haunted Mansion, I thought, and already I continued my journey...
"Behold, this is the house I want!"
His words came as an unexpected slap to my ears, I stood dumbfounded for a moment, then turned toward her, thinking he was joking. From his eyes I knew immediately that he was not joking, he was serious, very serious indeed. I realized immediately that anything I could say or do would have been useless, that dilapidated old house would become our home. Anna knew as she was a girl of fifteen, and we were together for so many years, I knew that if he wanted something she would have obtained, by hook or by crook. We had to make it a habit, that would be our home.
The day after we got back together in front of the house, of course, it would take a bit of time before you make a living what was left of that detached house, abandoned for at least twenty years.
But there was no hurry.
As I watched the roof trying to figure out how many of those tiles were still intact, an old woman we spoke to with the typical “legnanese” accent we had begun to understand and appreciate. She asked us who we were and what we wanted and without waiting for our answers began to tell us of his life, when she arrived with her husband in Legnano, their happy life, children, the fact that it was old and no longer felt good to ear (but his tongue was still working very well, I thought) and the ghosts who lived in the house we were watching...
"Ghosts?" I interrupted unintentionally...
"Ghosts?" Anna repeated aloud...
And so the old woman, who lived right next door, began to tell of noises coming from inside the house, the lights that appeared from time to time, the dark shadows, who had been seen so many times hidden behind the curtains of the window of the kitchen. Of her cats disappeared in the past and of broken toys that occasionally was in his garden...
Every word she pronounced but push Anna to that house.
How well placed temptation on the hook of an experienced fisherman, his words attracted prey to the deadly trap, a trap that would have meant for Anna... I did not understand how it could please her, but I did not feel even discussing his choice, this time I would have been content, and then, just in case, I would have regretted in silence, for love.
We managed to find out who was the owner of the house and within a few months was ours, only ours (and the bank that had granted the loan) and a few more months and it would be habitable.
Works took longer than expected due to a hidden crack that came from the roof to the foundation but in the end the project was completed and the house was delivered. It only remained to buy some furniture and make the move of all our things.
We bought a beautiful bedroom.
The kitchen had to be ordered to measure and the same for the library of the study, which was large and bright. In mid-May, we moved.
The house had changed in appearance, the ivy grew lush and everything that was once rusty and creaky now seemed to have been reanimated. Anna was happy and her face radiant made me forget the strange feeling that I proved hearing about ghosts...
The old neighbor, since she knew that we had purchased the house had not spoken a word, we passed by her bittersweet face without saying goodbye.
One evening we surprised her while throwing salt in front of our door with a strange smile in her face. But I did not pay it much thought at the time.
It had been several months since we moved into our new home, It seemed that everything was well and the nearby has begun to say goodbye even if you could see from a distance that did not approve our presence. Then, one evening, an unusual fact struck me.
Anna was sitting in his chair, we had purchased another one, in the middle of the library-study and I arrived from the kitchen. At his side, next to my seat, I saw the silhouette of a man bending over her was reading. A chill came over me, a strangled cry came from my throat...
"What is it, dear?!?"
The shadow disappeared...
I could not speak, I saw it or was just suggestion?
I plopped down in the chair, without forces, such as drained from life.
I had seen a ghost?
The words of the old woman I remembered... Who was that being there, next to my dear loved Anna?
She was in danger? These and other questions looked out of my mind but I could not speak, I could not open my mouth, it was as sealed.
I could not move, I was paralyzed by fear. The feeling that I had felt at the sight of that shadow had not disappeared, indeed, was stronger than ever... as if that being watching me behind, as if by invisible arms hold me back and I shut his mouth with lips ice.
I could not move a single muscle, I was paralyzed in my chair and watched, eyes wide with terror... the eyelids open unnaturally dilated pupils.
Anna was there, in front of me and the shadow grew closer, terrible, bloodthirsty.
Then it hit her, once, twice, ten times... the blade of the knife penetrated his flesh and blood splashed on the covers of books, on upholstery, on the cards of my last contract, slowly, sticky... blood red ruby. I tried to move, to scream, to warn her, to save her... but I could not do anything, I could only look at the horrible sight that now I wish I could forget.
The shadow disappeared silently...
Time passed, the night passed without noise, the smell of blood filled the room but I could not move, I was like glued to the chair... Then the next morning, I began to recover, I was able to move my arms and then my legs took life and drag me out of the house crawling on the floor. I opened the door and yelled loudly... The old neighbor was there, in front of me, not at all surprised, as if she understood what had happened... as if she knew!
I asked her to call the police, I stammered something about Anna, ghost, blood... then I fainted.
I woke up in hospital, tied to the bed with a straitjacket.
They told me that I had given in outburst, I screamed for three days, that raving of shadows and ghosts and murder of a woman, Anna.
They told me that the house was checked. No signs of blood or of a struggle, no woman at all dead or alive. There were only a lot of books dust-covered and signs of an abandoned house from some time. Everything made sense the lack of a female hand...
The old neighbor had told the Police that a few weeks before the woman who lived with me, Anna, had left for not coming and I had not taken it well.
Maybe I was crazy, but it was not true.
I knew what was the truth, I was there... in that room. I had seen the old woman, looking at me sideways... I saw the shadow... and the blood, I!
Was I completely crazy?!?
Alessandro Giovanni Paolo Rugolo
Original language: Italian
Translated by my novel: La casa sull'Olona