The House My Mother Left

The house perched on a hill so that its roof just peeked over the trees. It was the first sign that the journey had come to an end and we were home. It wasn’t until I was much older that I learned houses came in distinct styles. Colonial, ranch, Victorian, modern…our house came in all styles.

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My grandfather started building the house two days after he’d proposed to my grandma. He’d said he’d finish it by the wedding, but it was never finished. The conservatory is the last thing he completed. We needed a place to tend to the strange plants my mother keep bring back from the woods.

My room was up on the third floor, tucked next to the staircase. When I was born, they divided the library in half so half my walls were bookshelves tall enough to climb. They were like jungle shelves, especially when you are eight. That’s how I broke my arm.

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The kitchen was the first room grandpa finished and my favorite room in the house. It had big wooden counters that were always covered in pies. I loved to watch my mother, flour up to her elbows, humming as she rolled out the crusts. The sweet berries and fruits bubbling on the stove. She said my grandma’s sprit was strongest in that room. We always ate at the kitchen table because grandpa never finished the dining room.

The house was never silent, even when we were. The wind pushed at the windows, trying to get in, branches scratching at the paint. The floors creaked when there was no one nearby. I could always get a steady creak going near the stairs if I stood at the far side of the library. My mother said the house was whinging when it creaked. Complaining of how poorly grandpa had put the house together. She often said things like that. She used words I’d never heard anyone else use.

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Bespoke, lorry, whinge, pram, chancer. She’d chide me for dossing off in the woods instead of doing my homework or helping her with the laundry. Father claims he found her at the county fair one day looking lost and brought her home. She claims he kidnapped her from an island off the coast of Africa.

I loved that house. It was nothing like anything I saw at my friend’s house and I’ve seen nothing like it since. Rooms piled on rooms and tucked between hallways. And I was happy there until the day my mom gave me a hug and walked in the woods. This time, she didn’t return. Father said she went back home. I left two years later and never returned.

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Here’s another short story from the Simlit Short story challenge! (I seem to be good at doing this every other month.) This time we had 500 words and 3-5 pictures to use the word “winge” – Challenge rules here.  Did you read that right, only 5 pictures!? There’s so much more of the house I wanted to show!

Once September rolls around, we’ll all be voting for our top picks. I’ll post link and rules for voting.

Small edits now that September is here. First all, I forgot my banner! Must be vacation brain. Secondly, the voting has begun! If you want to participate, it’s very easy. Read the stories in the challenge at the official site – and then vote for your favorite three Veteran and Novice participants. As they’re all 500 words or less, you know it’ll go fast and why not spread a little love for stories.

Thanks for all who voted! I made second place!  I really loved these characters (the house and the narrator) and I will be using them again! 😀




  1. I really love this! I’ve been struggling to come up with a story about whinge (the only one I could come up with is about the earth’s whinges at Clima catastrophe and mass extinction, and I’m not ready to write that story),but this was so individual and delightful! I’ve lived in old whinging houses!

    As with many of your short stories, this one also ends with questions… why did the mom leave? Where did she go? Why does the daughter never return? I often feel your shorts are first chapters!

    It’s really effective to only use five pics and leave the rest to imagination! I like seeing enough of the house to get dominant sensory impressions and then to be able to fill in the nooks and crannies myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a sweet but melancholic story. The house sounds like an interestingly put together one, and I liked the pictures of it you were able to show. Sad that the mother disappeared and the house standing empty. Or does the father still live there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading it! It was a blast to build the house – and hopefully, I’ll get to use it again soon, maybe even finish some of the floors. I kind of actually like the idea of the house standing empty waiting for the next family to fill it, but I had imagined the father lived there still.


    • Glad you enjoyed it. I had meant it just to be about the house and its whinging and moaning, but it kind of went sideways at the end and I liked the ideas it generated too much to stop it. But the word limits are brutal! I’ll be back for sure to this house.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is such a cattywompus house. 😀 I don’t know if you ever saw/played “What Remains of Edith Finch” but the house was definitely heavily inspired by that house that you explore as you learn what happened to the inhabitants. I can’t wait to get back home so I can finish decorating the house! I only had time to do the most important rooms for the story before I had to leave on vacation.


  3. Loved the personification here with “whinge” being applied to the actual house. I’m a builder mainly so I might be biased but both build and story were fab! Kudos -J2J

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! That’s the kind of bias I can live with. 😀 I’ve always lived in older creeky houses, so when I saw the prompt I thought perhaps of imbuing some personality into an older house and it was such a blast to build this one! All those weird shapes!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading – the house was so fun to build. I’ve lived in enough old houses that when I thought about the word I was taken back to their creaking and odd sounds in the night. As for these two, I do so hope to return to them. I have a few half formed ideas that I might be able to work into another short story. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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