The house stood on a cursed plot of land, and this meant it was cursed too. Now, the land didn’t look especially cursed; it still sprouted grass and flowers, and it didn’t house any portals to some Hell-forsaken area. The house also seemed innocent enough; despite the cracked windows, the shutters were clean and bright. It was made of sturdy brick tainted a warm color from the sun. No dark clouds surrounded the house, no demons came knocking in the middle of the night. By all glances, it was normal.
The house could never hold a family long, despite its suburban location, large yard, and friendly neighbors. Before long, the inhabitants would leave, sometimes without those they had entered with.
The house attracted a certain type of family. It couldn’t abide unconventional units; they had to be factory fresh. The father had to be a large man, usually employed at some big job in the city, either a bank, law firm, or hospital. The mother had to stay home, cooking, cleaning, and waiting on the family. She could even serve on the PTA, if the house was feeling adventurous. And the children would have to be popular, straight-As, athletic angels. The house liked its cookie-cutter, 1950s, TV sitcom, stereotypical perversion of a family; it found them much more susceptible to the curse.
When they moved in, everything would seem fine. The heirloom armoires, the precious china, the ugly rug from Grandma would be carted in and placed on the blank canvas. Coats of each size would be hung from the pegs by the filigreed front door, shoes lined up neatly beneath them. It was a dollhouse; so perfect that some higher hand had to have arranged it.
The family would settle into their new life. Cardboard boxes would slink out of sight. The kids would have their friends over. The mother would cook her signature meatloaf, and do Taco Tuesdays, and have takeout every Friday. The father would learn the sports channels of the area, and station himself on the couch every Sunday afternoon. Life was normal, or at least carried the pretense of it.
But the tension was tangible. The house loved to play games, you see. It would take something of the sister’s and she’d blame it on the brother, or the mother, or even the dog (if there was one). The mother’s lasagna would burn because the house turned up the oven, and her husband would look disdainfully down his nose, and then back to the paper, annoyed at his absent-minded wife. It would shatter a window and the mother would chastise the brother for being careless with his baseball. None of them were any the wiser to the house’s cruel tricks.
And over time, this tension would build. The family members would revert to the ugliest versions of themselves. The father became distant and sharp-tongued, drinking well before five in the evening and staying out late. The mother became a wisp of a thing, pale face caked with cracked makeup, always the victim of the father’s rage. The children would lose happiness, and they would cower from their mother’s harsh words but lose sleep over her sobbing at night.
The house learned to relish in the curse. It was not by choice; it was rather an acquired taste. It no longer could feel; it wasn’t sure if it could in the first place. It learned to tell itself lies instead.
Eventually, the familial bonds would snap. Either the father stayed out a little too late, and had a little too much to drink, or the mother cried a little too much, or one kid tried suicide a little more than once, or the other yelled a little too loud. Either way, these families would fall apart from the inside. After between a couple days or a month, either all or some of them would leave the now trashed household. Sometimes the father took the kids, sometimes the mother. But the unhappiness would follow.
The house convinced itself it was for the best. Of course, the house helped a little, but wouldn’t these families have fallen apart on their own? All the house was doing was simply retrieving their true natures. None of them were truly happy before, and it was helping them do something about it. Right?
The house stood on a cursed plot of land, but it convinced itself the curse was on the families.