Fancy Dress

Jenna moved in to her newly purchased house on the morning of Halloween. It was a Friday, so this would allow her the entire weekend to unpack the vast amount of boxes that littered the dining room floor. She loved her new house as it was her first and even though it was not brand new , it was new to her. First, it was time to investigate her home.

Jenna pushed open the old attic door greeted by a blast of musty stale air. She peeked her head into the darkness and turned on her flashlamp, pushing aside cobwebs in her wake. There was so much to do around the old building and yet her curiosity got the better of her so she decided that the chores could wait until she fully investigated the house thoroughly.

The flashlamp revealed years of dust blanketing forgotten boxes of treasures. As the flashlamp revealed more to Jenna a shimmering came from an ancient dress and eerie whispering sounds emenated for the very walls of the attic.

“This is mine”.

“No, I want to wear it…you got the last dress Papa sent from Paris”.

Jenna took a few seconds to slam shut the attic door.

“No, come back”.

Jenna froze and trembled with fear. The voices beckoned her to return….young voices, playful voices. She slowly peeked her head back into the dusty old attic. Her body followed. Jenna thought that the floor looked safe enough; it did not creak under her weight. She slowly walked towards the old dress standing upright on a dress-model, the sheer work on the stitching alone was exquisite and it’s beauty reached out to her womanly appreciation.

“It’s mine”, a whisper echoed around the open space.

Jenna started, twisted and turned, trying to find who owned this gently voice. Her flashlamp searching every nook for it’s owner.

“Where are you?’, she asked cuatiously. No answer.

The Jameson’s house had stood for over 400 years. The previous owner had left the house 20 years prior to Jenna purchasing it. Local rumours had said that the whispers in the house had driven the last owner mad. The agent decided that it was best not to tell Jenna of the local belief that the house was haunted so it was never mentioned during the sale.

A rustling noise came from the bustle of the old dress. Jenna was drawn towards it with an outstretched hand. The material was of purest silk and felt wonderful to the touch. Jenna ran the flashlamp over the entire dress and took in it’s elegance and beauty.

“It is so beautiful”, the whispers started again. “Father sent it back for us whilst he visited Europe”, the voice continued…another voice interrupted, “Yes, for us, not for you!”. The voices continued to argue over possession of the dress. Jenna stood numbed and yet intrigued. Her fear had lifted slightly as she felt that there was no harm intended to her.

“Who are you?”, she ventured bravely. There was a moment of silence….


Jenna wanted to know more. “What are you doing here?”.

“We live here”, the second voice retorted.

“And, you are?”.

“I am Grace”.

“My name is Jenna”.

“What are you doing in our home?”, Elizabeth enquired.

“I live here too”, Jenna explained.

“How could you live here?”, demanded Grace.

Jenna did not know what to do but she decided that the truth was her best option. She explained that she bought the house a month ago and had just moved in this morning. There were some utterings between the two voices however Jenna could not make out what they were saying.

“How can this be?, Elizabeth asked. My sister and I were born here. We have never left the house.” The attic began to chill and Jenna could make out an outline of the apparitions. Two young teenage girls, she reckoned around 18 and 19, emerged like a wispy mist. They were both dressed in fine attire that would have been in style over 150 years ago.

Jenna asked them about the dress that stood on the dress model. Elizabeth explained that as she was the oldest she had laid claim to the gift from Papa. The girls were to attend the annual Hunt Ball and it was to be their first introduction into society. Papa had sent a few other dresses however Elizabeth wanted to wear this one. Unfortunately, so did Grace. Jenna listened to the sisters argue when suddenly Grace turned to her;

“What happened?”, she asked, now realising that this was not a normal situation by any means.

“I dont know”, Jenna replied honestly. “However, I promise you that I will find out”.

Jenna left them to their sibling arguments and descended back into the regal old home that was now hers. She made it her priority to research the history of the building. Firstly, she rang the agent who sold her the house. He seemed distant and distracted and Jenna was truly exasperated and none the wiser when she finished with their conversation.

That afternoon Jenna went to the local Library and researched the history of the area and found that her home belonged to an extremely wealthy family whom were revered among the society of the day. When she opened the dusty old file there it was! On Halloween night almost two hundred years ago, one of the candles tipped-up and set fire to the house…nobody survived. The Father was in Paris at the time and was due home later that evening and the Mother and her two girls died in the fire on the night in question.

Jenna asked around locally and it was confirmed that the house had never been lived in for long during their lifetime. Everyone knew it was haunted and the last man who owned it went quite mad after living in it for only two years. He had it borded up and it had taken twenty years to come back onto the market for sale. On further research Jeanna found that the house had been rebuilt forty years after the fire.

She returned to the attic that evening and brought a lamp with her this time. She walked over to the dress and the girls joined her immediately. Jenna explained to them what she had uncovered about their lives and their death. The girls were distraught. Captured between two worlds awaiting the return of Papa from Europe. When Jenna explained that their Father never lived in the house after the tragedy they began to fade slightly from her sight.

“Jenna, it’s time for us to go now”, the girls whispered. “We can see Papa and Mama calling. You take the dress”, Elizabeth offered.

“Yes, its yours now”, Grace agreed.

Jenna undid the dress from the old dress-model and tried it on. It fit her perfectly. The two girls smiled and slowly began to dissappear right in front of her eyes. Jenna knew that they had been waiting for the return of their Papa and now that they knew he was never coming back to the house, it was time for them too, to go.

She heard a very distant whisper, very faint.

“Enjoy Jenna and thank you”. Then there was silence.

(c) rochelle moore 2002