The tiny house sat vacant, hidden from sight by cattails, tall weeds, and overgrown nettle—nature’s barbed wire. Years had passed since the house had actually been lived in. Even then, it had only seen short-term tenants throughout the years, none staying long enough to warm the place with human touch. Looking more like a large shed than a house, it bore two rooms and a small porch, which had been added in hopes of giving it a homey look. The porch, really no more than a slab of cement, had cracked from harsh winters, causing it to lean to one side. This was nobody’s home sweet home.

 Standing outside after dusk, if you listened carefully, you could hear voices murmuring in the wind. An unsettling eeriness had long ago set up residence on the property. Lonely and abandoned, it would be a long while before it would see inhabitants other than the ones that had been living there in the shadows all along. As time marched on, years later, my family would inhabit the simple house tucked away in the cattails. Evil would be getting long-term houseguests, some it could relate to. Mama and Papa would be coming home.

 I have waited more than thirty years to tell my story. Since the day I walked out of the front door and into the afternoon sunshine, free for the first time in my life, I knew this day would come. As I said good-bye to the innocent spirits still trapped, the ones that had comforted me for all those years, I knew this day would come. Time has a way of healing hearts that one would never believe could mend. I once lived under a paralyzing fear so powerful that even the deaths of those responsible couldn’t give me true comfort. In their deaths, the path remains obscure at times.

Although the physical body dies when the heart beats no more, the demons can grow stronger.

 Days, like the repetitive motion of a swinging pendulum, came and went. Remaining normal through it all became the only true goal, the precious pot of gold at the end of a blackened rainbow. Despair wrestled with hope. Sometimes the sinking feelings felt much like deep holes dug into the ground. I never knew when I might topple over or be pushed into the hole for all of eternity. I was forgotten and erased; survival can be a daunting task.

 To understand my journey, I must now share with you theirs. Hurry, for the first collaborator is soon to be born.

In The Beginning