This first line of a fictional short story was suggested by one of my regular followers, #thenovelreader
He was bathing in his bathroom when someone knocked on the door.
In most cases, that wouldn’t be a surprise, but for Edward it certainly was. He lived alone, and was the only person in the house as far as he knew.
His first reaction was to call out. “Who’s there? Who are you?” When someone replied, he almost leapt out of the bath with surprise.
“I need to pee. Can I come in please, daddy?” The voice sounded like that of a child, a female child. Edward was more than a little afraid. He had no children, and not even a wife to have had any with. For some reason, his reaction was to get angry. “Go away! Don’t make me call the police”. It seemed silly as he said it, and he stood up in the bath and reached over for a towel.
As he wrapped the towel around him, he could hear crying. More like a gentle sobbing. Then, “Please daddy, I need to go now”. Edward knew he should have opened the door, but he was scared to. What if it was a child? He was only wearing a bath towel, and had no clothes in there to put on. Maybe he had forgotten to lock the door, and a lost and confused child had come in? He sat on the lid of the toilet seat, and thought for a moment.
“This isn’t your house. You need to go away and go home, do you hear me?” The reply was faint, as if the child was walking away.
“Too late. Sorry”.
Slipping the bolt on the door, he opened it a little, and peered through the gap onto the landing. It had never occurred to him not to lock the bathroom door. He always had, even though he lived alone. Now he was glad he did, or the child might have just walked in.
On the wooden flooring of the landing a few inches from the door was a small puddle of liquid. He didn’t need to dip a finger into it to know what it was.
Crossing the landing into his bedroom, he dressed quickly, and went into the other two upstairs rooms. There was no trace of a child, so he ran downstairs and checked the living room and kitchen. Nothing. No hiding child, and no sign of anyone having been there.
Except for the puddle on the landing.
The front door of the house was locked, the key still in the lock where he had left it. The back door the same, and no windows were open.
Edward was not a man who believed in spiritual things like ghosts, and wasn’t about to let this strange experience change his mind. Somehow, a child had been in the house, peed on his floor, then made her escape. He resolved to beef up his home security, and to check if there had been any reports of missing children.
He telephoned a company that fitted bars on windows and heavy deadlocks, making an appointment for someone to come and give an estimate the following Saturday morning. Then he finished getting ready, and set off for work. He would mop up the puddle on the landing when he got home.
On the way, he went into police headquarters near the bus station. The officer at the desk looked suitably keen. “Can I help you sir?” Edward explained what had happened, and that there might be a missing child wandering around the neighbourhood. The officer looked less keen after hearing the story, but slid a form across the desk, and raised his pen. “Okay, I will just take some details, then file a report”. After entering Edward’s name and address, the cop stopped writing.
“You live in the Campbell House on Birch Avenue?” Edward told him he had no idea who had lived there previously. It had been empty when he bought it. Sitting up straight, the officer put down the pen. “Happened not long after I came here from training school. Little Lizzie Campbell drowned in the bath there, and her father was so distraught when he found her, he hung himself later that day from the bannister rail over the stairwell. Reckon you need a priest mister, not the police”.
As far as Edward was concerned, that was so much nonsense. It was a busy time at work, and he soon forgot about it. That night before bed, he decided to have another bath, to ease the ache in his back from a long day. Not long after he had eased himself into the hot water, there was a knock on the bathroom door. And that same childish voice.
“Daddy, can I come in please? I need to poo”.