The Music Box Part I

The Music Box (part I)

written by JC aka Simaticsims for the Sims International Literary Conference (SILC).

This is the first part of The Music Box, A Mystery for the SILC.

This story and all characters are fictional and not affiliated to the Sims 3 or EA. Any custom content you see is not made by me. I hope you enjoy reading The Music Box. Feel free to leave a comment! I love to read them. As always, Happy Simming. ~Simaticsims


And so it began….

My name is Claire O’Connell and the perfect Victorian home above was the house of my dreams. That was, until I actually lived in it.

I just graduated college from Sim State University with honors and was looking forward to moving up in life. My Uncle Howard snatched this Victorian two bedroom off the real estate market for an amazingly low price. That should have been my first give away that something wasn’t quite right. But I was desperate to start my new life, in my new home in TwinBrook.

When we pulled up to the home, I thought we must have had the wrong address. It was covered in weeds and dead bushes. The paint on the porch was faded and peeling. The lawn was practically dead. This couldn’t be that perfect house I had hanging on my wall above my bed in my dorm where all my dreams were going to come true. That house was where I was going to have my children…this house was something out of the ghost story.

“Whew wee! Isn’t she a beaut’ Claire? Look at all that space you’re going to have to fill up!” my Uncle Harold said.

I blinked my eyes repeatedly hoping the weeds would turn into beautiful flowers and the lawn would turn to a perfect shade of green.

“What… happened to it?” I managed to ask, unable to hide my disappointment.

“What do ya mean what happened?”

I turned away from the house,  fighting my tears. “It looked so different in the photos…it was so much…nicer.”

Uncle Harold chuckled and slapped his barrel belly. “Claire Bear, it’s called marketing sweetheart. Everything looks prettier in pictures. Everyone’s gotta make a penny now and then…even if it’s stretch’n the truth a wee bit!”

A wee bit? This place looked like it had not been occupied in twenty years.

“The lawn is dead….and the paint is an ugly shade of green…and the flowers are dead,” I began to rant, “this is more than pushing the truth. This place is in need of a renovation. I don’t  have enough simoleons for that, I barely have enough to move in let alone a whole renovation. I took my brothers old sofa and his TV after he got married. I am sleeping on my old bed that I had from my parents house. I can’t afford to–”

“Claire Bear, listen to Uncle Harold. This ain’t as big a disaster as you’re making it out to be. It’s just a lawn Baby-doll and it will grow back. With some love, this place will be lookin’ even better than that darn photo.”

I sighed and looked over at the house again, wishing I could share in his vision.

“We haven’t even been inside yet. Les’ have a look before we get to over reactin’. I’m not a man who likes to judge a book by it’s cover.”

I however was one to judge a book by it’s cover…and this was one book I would have left on the shelf.

This is what trusting my Uncle Harold got me. He was a car dealer before he went into real estate. I should have known.

I slowly approached the front door with a boulder in my stomach.

If the inside looked as bad as the outside, I didn’t know what I was going to do.

As I had feared…it wasn’t just bad….it was worse. The living-room had vegetable wall paper. Vegetable wall paper in a living room?  Who says…I think tomatoes will go wonderful with our love seat? Apparently the last buyer had no taste in home decor.

“Well ain’t this room fresh? Make’s my belly growl. Speakin’ of which, I need ta get going after our walk through. I have a 2′ o’clock appointment and I need to fill up the old gas tank before if ya know what I mean Claire Bear!” he said with a slap to his middle.

We walked through each room. They all had horrible wall paper besides the dining room.

After my uncle left, I stood alone in my “dream home” turned disappointment and decided that if  I was going to have to live with this ugly house,  I had better make the best of it. Wall paper could be stripped right? Weeds could be pulled…and the grass would grow back. In the end I would have more appreciation than ever for my fixer-upper home.

Instead of going it alone, I invited my boyfriend Travis Peterson over to help me put up new wall paper that wasn’t so hard on the eyes.

Travis and I met in college and though we were both very different, we clicked. Travis came from a well to do family and was studying to become a lawyer. I on the other hand just wanted to become a school teacher. I guess in some small way, we both wanted to help others. Which was why it was easy to have him around.

“Claire, I think the glue is making my allergies act up,” Travis complained.

“It looks so much better doesn’t it?” I asked, smiling at the new wall paper.

“Yeah, this place needs a lot of work. How are you going to afford it?”

“I am going to start looking for a job tomorrow. It shouldn’t be too hard.”

“You could always ask your parents for some simoleons. I’m sure they would help you out.”

I glared at him. “Travis, I told you one hundred times, my parents aren’t like your parents. They don’t care about me and my stupid house. They would laugh at my tragedy. They don’t care.”

“Hey, chill out. I was just making a suggestion. You don’t have to get all bent on me.”

I had a bad relationship with my parents ever since they decided they didn’t want to pay for me to go to college. I managed to struggle through it all on my own, working two jobs on the side. I didn’t want their sympathy now or ever.

“I know. I’m sorry. You know the topic of my parents hit’s a soft spot.”

“I know it. I was just hoping that now that college was over, you’d get over the past.”

“I wish I could,” I said, sighing. “It would be nice to have a shoulder to lean on once in a while.”

“You have me. I’m not good with decorating, but I can help with whatever else you need Claire. All you have to do is ask.”

I smiled. “Thanks Travis, I’ll owe you one after all of this.”

“Hey, nothing a few nights alone won’t fix. It will be nice not to have to worry about our dorm mates dropping in at the most inconvenient times.”

I laughed as he hugged me. “Yeah, no kidding.”

After we finished two more walls it was nearing midnight.

“I gotta get going, I have an exam in the morning.” Travis said.

“Okay, it’s late anyway. Maybe tomorrow night you can come over and we can order a pizza and rent a movie?”

“Can’t do it. I have a frat party tomorrow night. I don’t need to wake up with toothpaste in my hair for ditching them.”

“Okay, well maybe this weekend?” I asked trying to hide my disappointment.

I hated his frat boy buddies. I never understood why he joined their fraternity in the first place. It was like a big boy day care center with out supervision.

“This weekend I’m open. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

After he left I went up to my room, changed into my pj’s and fell asleep immediately, forgetting all my worries.

The next morning, I rose a little past nine and went right into job hunting. If I was going to turn this place around, I needed the funding.

I found a few prospective jobs. The first was a part time bookkeeper for the Twinbrook police department. The second a full time position as abartender at the Red Rendezvous Lounge. The third was a ticket seller at the movie theater.

As I was filling out my last application I thought I heard the sound of someone crying.

I held my breath and listened.

I was certain it was crying…but it didn’t sound like it was coming from outside. It sounded like it was in my house…upstairs.

I closed my computer and stood up slowly, my ears as keen as a fox.

It was close and growing louder.

I walked to the bottom of the stairs and I could hear the soft sobs carrying down the carpeted steps. I thought maybe there was a stereo left on. But my stereo was down stairs.

I following the sobs up the stairs. It sounded like it was coming right out of the walls.

When I reached the top of the stairs, I realized it was coming from the second bedroom which was unoccupied.

I turned the doorknob and let the door slowly swing open with a groan. Besides the terrible wall paper inside, it was abandoned.

In the corner I found an old antique doll house and a mirror. Both of these objects did not belong to me.  The last resident left them there I guessed. Even so, that still did not explain the sobbing I had heard moments before that now seemed to suddenly have stopped.

I found myself staring at the antique mirror and felt strangely drawn to it.

As I approached it, unblinking, every hair on my body stood on end.

And when I focused on my own face, I found an unfamiliar one looking over my shoulder.

I gasped in shock and fear, clutching my chest as my heart threatened to leap from it.

I spun around to confront the woman I saw. Instead I found the room empty…as it had been moments before.

My heart threatened cardiac arrest and my adrenaline made my muscles ache.

I feared I was losing my mind. Did I really see a lady?  Yes. I knew because I could still see her in my mind. She was blonde…and wearing a bridal gown.

My skin crawled and I fled the room to scared to think about it anymore.

I ran downstairs and fled to my kitchen, too spooked to know what else to do than call someone.

I called Travis.

“Hello…” he answered in a gruff voice.

“Travis, it’s Claire. I need you to come over. I am so scared…I just saw someone in my mirror.”

There was a scratching sound as if he dropped the phone.  “…What?”

“I need you to come over! I think someone’s in my house! I don’t know actually if someone is…I just saw someone in the mirror..some lady in a wedding dress.” I peeked out of the kitchen to make sure no one was there.

“What are you talking about? You’re not making any sense…I just woke up. I had my test at 5 am…I was taking a nap. I have to study I can’t come over right now.”

“Did you hear what I said?” I asked not hearing him, only wanting the ordeal to make sense. “I was sitting at my computer submitting applications for work and I heard someone crying. It was coming from upstairs…so I went to see where it was coming from. I went in the second bedroom and there was this creepy doll house and a mirror on the wall.  I looked into the mirror and there was this…” My skin began to crawl just thinking about it. “There was this woman in a  wedding dress standing behind me! I know she was there, I saw her clear as day! She had blonde hair!”

“Claire…that sounds bogus. Did you take a sleeping pill or something  last night?”

“No Travis! Please come over. I am really scared. I need you..”

He sighed. “Fine…I’ll be over as soon as I can. I need to get dressed.”

“Okay bye.” I said hanging up.

I waited for Travis in my living room. I turned on the stereo to keep my company. I didn’t want to hear any more sobbing or other mystery sounds.

The knock on the door scared and relieved me at the same time.

I threw myself into Travis’s arms.

“I”m so glad you came. I was so afraid.”

“You need to relax. I think you have been pushing yourself to hard. Sometimes when you get majorly stressed out it messes with your mind…”

I pushed off of him, insulted. “You don’t believe me?”

“Really Claire? No. It sounds like one of those childhood games kids play where you see the sp0oky lady in the mirror.”

“I know what I saw.  I swear on my life!” I said throwing my arms up. “I wouldn’t lie to you, Travis.”

“I never said you were lying, I just don’t know if it wasn’t you seeing things.”

“I told you what happened. I was down here and I heard crying…and I went up to the second bedroom and I looked into a creepy mirror on the wall and saw a lady in a wedding dress.”

“What did she say to you?” he asked smirking. “Was she like the Bride of Dracula? Was her name?”

I glared at him. “Why don’t you go ask her yourself?”

“Maybe I will,” he said smiling and marching past me with a macho strut.

I followed him upstairs to the bedroom, but I stayed in the doorway while he approached the mirror.

I held my breath as he looked into it.

He paused and then suddenly his eyes went wide.

“Do you see her?” I asked, already backing toward the door.

He released a loud gasp. “I see someone!”

I trembled and felt fear trickle down my spine. “Is it her?! Is she in a wedding dress?!”

“No…but I see a terribly handsome young man who will someday own his own law firm,” He said with a cocky smile.

It took me a moment to understand and become angry.

“By the way, this mirror could use a dusting….do you have a feather duster?” he asked, dragging his finger down the middle of the glass.

“Travis! This isn’t funny.” I said with tears of frustration in my eyes.

He chuckled. “I see a mirror, that’s it.”

I shook my head, infuriated. “Why do you have to be such a jerk?”

He composed himself once he saw how upset I was.

He walked over and took my hands in his. “I’m sorry if I upset you. I just don’t believe in ghosts and seeing brides in mirrors. I am a realist Claire..I thought you were too until today.”

“I am a realist! Why would I make this up? I know I saw her.” I argued.

“I know what I see. I see my very beautiful and  stressed out girlfriend who needs a break. There is some kind of hot dog eating contest down near the river. Let’s go grab some lunch. I am starving and I think the fresh air would be good for you.”

I took his advice, and thirty minutes and one shower later we were enjoying hotdogs in the warm summer air. It did feel good to be outdoors and the hog dogs were a fabulous additive to the atmosphere.

While I was eating. A woman in a teal suit approached me.

“You must be the new girl in town…” she said in a deep raspy voice. “I’m Martha Bridges and this is my daughter Leslie.”

I stood up to introduce myself. “Yes, that’s me. My name is Claire O’Connell. I just moved into the Victorian home on 344 Rue de Sterling.

“The old Riddle house? Oh my…” she frowned. “Didn’t anyone tell you?”

I frowned. “Tell me what?”

She smiled thinly and looked over my face. “That you bought the least desirable home in all of Twinbrook?”

“No, I bought it from out of town. My uncle did all the paper work for me.”

“Well, you’re Uncle must not have looked too far into the records. There isn’t one soul in this town who would buy that home for even one simo.”

“Why not?” I asked, swallowing hard.

“Well, there’s the age of it…it was one of the first homes built here in Twinbrook…and there’s the ghost stories.”

“The ghost stories….?” I asked, feeling my hair stand on end.

“I don’t want to scare you, Claire. But I wouldn’t feel comfortable sleeping one night in that place. Old Lady Riddle was the only one who could stomach it. The crazy old kook. She moved out after her husband Arthur died a few years back. Some say she used to hold seances in her attic and her neighbors would say they could hear her fighting with someone, but she was livin’ alone by then.”

“Why did she move from the house?”

“No one knows. She just up and sold it one day. No one wants to talk to her. She writes her silly mystery books and a few of her nutty fans actually buy them. You can find them at the library. Maybe she moved because she couldn’t afford it after Arthur kicked the bucket.”

I swallowed hard and glanced over at Travis who had came over to listen in on the conversation.

“You can’t believe everything you hear, Claire.” Travis said. “It’s just an old house.”

The woman glared at Travis and looked him over. “Who are you to say what it is? Who are you?”

“I’m Travis, Claire’s boyfriend.”

“An outsider. You don’t know anything about Twinbrook and our community so don’t go sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong, or you might have it bitten off.”

Travis looked stunned.

“See you around town Claire,”  Mrs. Bridges said. Then she turned and grabbed her daughter by the arm dragging her off.

“Wow, are you sure this whole town isn’t a bunch of nutcases?”

I frowned. “I don’t know…all I know is I don’t want to go back home alone.”

“I’ll come with you and protect you from the ghosts.”

I rolled my eyes, not feeling in the mood to joke around.

I never liked ghost stories or horror movies, and suddenly I felt like I was in one.

We rented a comedy movie on the way home and he stuck around to watch it with me. As much as I wanted to enjoy my night with Travis, I couldn’t help but worry about the possibility that my house was more creepy than I ever imagined. I felt my gaze accusing shadows of being ghosts and soft popping sounds of the house settling as possible footsteps.

“Are You alright,  Claire?” Travis asked suddenly.

“Yes, why wouldn’t I be?” I asked.

“You just seem distracted.”

I frowned. “Well maybe I am…a little.”

He sighed. “You’re not still hung up on that crap that crazy woman at the river told you, are you?”

“She seemed pretty accurate.”

“She seemed pretty nuts. Claire, this is a house, and old house…and it’s going to get creepy sometimes. But you knew that when you bought it. You said you wanted to alone and I tried to tell you it was going to get lonely.”

“I know, but that was before I saw that creepy woman in the mirror and heard the story…”

“Babe, once this place is fixed up, no one is going to think it’s one bit creepy. You’re going to work your magic on it and everyone is going to want to live here.”

I smiled softly.” You really think so?”

“I know so.” he said pecking my lips.

I smiled and settled in against him, content to watch the movie…and then I felt a cold breeze against my neck and saw movement behind us out of the corner of my eye.

I spun around in my seat and stared into the darkened computer room behind me.

“What the heck, Claire?” Travis asked, wide eyed.

“I thought…I saw someone standing there.”

“Where?” He asked looking too.

“Behind us…”

He sighed and pulled away from me. “You’re turning into a headcase too. Maybe you should come back to SSU with me for the night.”

I frowned. “I’m sorry Travis. I’m just freaked out…maybe I am crazy. I don’t know.”

He shook his head. “I need to get going. I have classes tomorrow morning.”

I walked him out. We paused outside my front door. He turned to me and looked like he didn’t even want to kiss me. My antics had become an annoyance to him.

“I’m sorry if I upset you Travis, I don’t know what to think about all of this.”

“I do. I think you need to stop listening to everyone and think for yourself. You’re not a little girl Claire. Bumps in the night are for six year olds to be afraid of.”

“I know…” I said looking down.

“I’ll come over tomorrow night. It’s Friday…I can spend the night. Maybe we can actually have a normal night with out you freaking out over shadows?”

“Yeah, we can.” I nodded. He was right I was being ridiculous.

“I love you, Claire.” he said kissing me. We made out for a few minutes before he pulled away and got into his car, leaving me all alone with the Riddle House.

Once I got back inside, I decided I might just look for more jobs until I was too tired to stay awake and would fall asleep easier.

When I approached my desk I found two flowers in a vase and a note waiting for me.

The note read Welcome Home Claire with out a signature. At first I was confused but then I figured it must have been Travis since he was the only one here in the house with me all day.

I decided to call and thank him.

“What’s wrong now?” he answered.

“Nothing, I just wanted to thank you for the sweet note and the flowers.”

“What note and flowers?”

“The one you left on my desk. It says ‘Welcome home Claire’? ”

“I didn’t leave you a note and flowers, Claire.”

“You didn’t? Then who did?” I asked in disbelief.

“I don’t know. Hey, Jonny is calling me. I gotta go. See you tomorrow.” he said hanging up.

I lowered the phone from my ear and glanced back over to the desk at the mysterious flowers and note. I tried to remember if I saw it there earlier in the afternoon and I just couldn’t recall it.

Fear crept into me again. If  Travis didn’t do…then who did?

That night I turned on every light in my house and slept in my clothes in case I had to flee my house on a whim.

The next morning I woke up and decided to keep busy to keep my mind from wandering.

I did all of my laundry.

While I waited on my laundry I job hunted, checked my e-mail, and played online chess.

Soon enough it was lunchtime and I made myself some soup in a can.

I was just praising myself for being so good and not freaking out all morning when I heard a noise.

This time it wasn’t a girls crying. It was  music,  coming from upstairs.

I slowly pushed my chair out and stood up.

I managed to keep my wits  even though I was shaking on the inside as I climbed the steps. The melody sounded like something you would hear come from a wind up music box. I paused at the second bedroom door and realized this time it wasn’t coming from that room.

I rounded the corner and paused at the wall, noticing that there was a camouflaged door that matched the wall paper. Anxiety trickled over me as I realized this was the attic door and the  music was definitely coming from behind it.

Just as I was about to try the door knob to the attic, my cell phone rang in my pocket and scared the life out of me. I picked it up quickly, not even checking who was on the other line. At that moment I didn’t care. I wanted to talk to someone…anyone.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Hi, is this…Claire O’Connell?”

“Yes,” I answered, swallowing. “May I help you?”

“This is Chris Hughes, I am the proprietor of the Red Rendezvous Lounge. I received your resume and I thought you would be a great candidate for the position. I’d like to schedule you in for an interview if you’re still interested?”

A job interview. Great!

“Sure, I would love to set up an interview. When should I come in?”

“Well, I am free today anytime.”

“Me too!” I said enthusiastically.

“Can you make it here in an hour? It’s our slow time.”

“I can do that. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Excellent. See you soon Claire.”

“Bye.” I hung up with a smile before I realized the music had stopped playing.

I glared at the attic door, deciding that was territory I wasn’t ready to tread upon yet.

I hurried into the bathroom to get ready for my interview. I took a bath with out any scary incidents.

I got dressed, checked my complexion, did my makeup then hurried out the door.

I didn’t own a car so I had to get there by foot. By the time I came to the cross streets of the Red Rendezvous I was in a jog. I had three minutes to make an appearance.

I stepped through the doors to find it relatively lively for a Friday afternoon. I was guessing around here people got off early and this was the only place to really hang out on a Friday night. I approached the bar and found myself mesmerized as I stared into the eyes of one of the most handsome guys I had ever seen.

“Hey,” he said looking up at me as he poured drinks into tall glasses with out even looking down. “You must be Claire.”

“Yeah, sorry if I was late…I don’t have a car and–”

“Nope, just on time. Let me get these drink orders done and I’ll be right with you.”

“Okay,” I said, self consciously touching my hair and hoping I didn’t look like I just jogged the last block to make it on time.

He served the drinks and joined me.

“Sorry, it’s not usually this packed. I’m Chris, the one who called you.” he said holding out his hand.

“Claire O’Connell,” I responded shaking his warm hand, “but you already knew that right?”

I felt silly re-introducing myself but he didn’t seem to mind.

“Yeah I did, but I don’t mind a formal introduction.” He said with a pearly smile.

“I didn’t realize it would take me more than ten minutes to get here, I thought I lived closer.” I said.

“Did you drive?”

“No, I don’t have a car… yet. I will once I get some simos saved…”

“You don’t need a car in Twinbrook. Once you learn the back streets you’ll be here in no time.”

“Thank you for understanding.”

“One of my better traits,” he said, winking. “Why don’t we sit down?”

“Okay,” I said, trying not to impolitely stare at him.

We took seats at the nearest table.

“So Claire, tell me a little bit about you. Where are you from?”

“Well, let’s see…” I began. “I was born and raised on the outskirts of Bridgeport in the suburbs. Then I attended Sim State University for four years….”

“What did you study?”

“Education was my major with a minor in sociology.”

“Interesting. So what made you apply for a job in a bar? Don’t you want to teach?”

“Oh, I do…I just need something to get me on my feet until I get my real job.” I realized how bad that sounded. Like this place was just a stepping stone I would ditch at the first chance at something better. “What I mean is…”

He chuckled. “I know what you mean and it’s perfectly fine. I know the Red Rendezvous isn’t a life long commitment for most of my staff. Hell, even I didn’t want to end up here. It just sort of happened five years ago. I was in your situation…no simos, no job. I got a job tending bar here, and now I am managing it.”

“I’m sure it’s a really great place to work.”

“It has it’s moments, but I enjoy it. There are a few things I need to clear before you say yes or no to the position.”


“I need to know if you actually know how to tend bar. Do you know anything about mixing drinks?”

“Well, I was in college for four years…I know some about it from the parties. But, I am no expert by any means.”

“That will do. The second thing is…can you start tonight? One of my bartenders just walked out in the middle of her shift last night. I can’t do it with two of us, especially on Friday night. I’ll up your pay.”

“Sure, the sooner the better. What sort of uniform should I wear?”

“Great!” he brought his hands together. “There isn’t a dress code. I just tell all my tenders to dress how ever they want, it’s their choice. Bare mid-drift usually brings in the most tips.”

I nodded. “Okay.”

“So, I’ll see you tonight at five? I’m going to start you behind the bar  training with Brooke. She has been my longest standing employee and knows the bar better than anyone.”

“Sounds great, I’ll be here at five.”

We both stood up and he smiled at me. “I think you’re going to like it here. I’m not a jerk manager unless you get on my bad side, and I really don’t see that happening. I get along well with Irish girls.”

I smirked. “I’m not all Irish.”

He smiled. “Well the part of you that is, is already on my good side.”

I laughed. “Good to know. I’ll try to keep it that way.”

“See you tonight, Irish,” He winked and walked back behind the bar, leaving me with a cheesy smile.

I returned a few hours later dressed in one of my more risque outfits from my college party days. I figured it would do well for tips.

I walked in to find Chris behind the bar with a blonde woman who I assumed was Brooke, my trainer.

“You made it, Irish!” Chris called over the music.

I flashed him a smile and waved.

He summoned me behind the bar for an introduction.

“Claire, this is Brooke, my best tender.”

“Hi Brooke,” I said smiling at her.

“Hi.” She looked me over so skeptically I felt self conscious that I had already failed this job before I began. Was it my outfit? My hair?

“Brooke will teach you the ropes and get you caught up. If you have any questions tonight, either of us. We do half price for tap drinks until seven so that’s all you’ll have to worry about for the next few hours. Should be an easy transition. Nice outfit by the way, your going to land some serious tips.”

I blushed. “Thanks.”

“Are you the one who moved into the Riddle House?” Brooke asked suddenly.

Oh no. Did everyone know me? “Yeah…that’s me.”

“Wow, you’re either brave or crazy living there. Just driving past that house gives me the creeps. Do you know the lady who lived there went completely crazy and killed her husband?”

I gaped, lost for words.

Chris cut in with a laugh. “Alright, were on the clock here. Get to work girls…the line is building up.”

The night started out easy like Chris assumed. Everyone ordered easy drinks…but then the late night crowd came in and wanted mixed drinks I had never heard of. Chris started shouting orders at me and I was so flustered I couldn’t even remember what glasses they went in.

After I served two wrong drinks, Brooke told me to stop serving. She told Chris she was going to have to do it alone because I was no help.

She was really upset.  She took Chris aside and I think she told him he should fire me. He kept looking at me and I could see pity in his eyes.

They even did twenty drinks on the house to keep the good mood crowd that I almost turned into a bar brawl. I knew it was coming out of Chris’s pocket and I felt horrible.

“Chris I am really sorry…” I said as he passed me.

“Hey, It’s my fault, I should have known better than to throw a newbie behind the bar on a Friday night.”

“I’m not a newbie, I was doing fine until…”

“I didn’t say newbie drinker…I said newbie server.” he winked.

“I’ll have you know I could serve you under the table with a little practice. I am going to go buy a drink encyclopedia tonight and read it until my eyes bleed.” I said with a cocky tone, smiling the whole time.

He grinned at my challenge. “Oh yeah? I’ll believe it when I see it Irish.”

We both cringed as Brooke slammed a can down on the counter. “CHRIS? Do you think you can stop flirting with her for five minutes and help me out here? FOR SIMS SAKE! Am I the only one who sees this crowd of drunks! I am one person!”

Chris spun around and went right to drink orders with out another word to me.

Finally my first night at Red Rendezvous was over. By the time we cleaned up it was well past midnight.

“Hey, thanks for being so patient and understanding tonight. I am serious about getting those drinks memorized.”

“I guess I can’t fire you now since your actually trying to do a good job.” Chris playfully jabbed at me.

I laughed.

Brooke yawned dramatically. “I am sooo tired, it’s hard working with such crappy help.”

“Hey, I helped out and Claire did her best.”

“Mm, yeah I almost forgot.”

“Yeah well that’s what happens when you sneak shots when no one is looking Brookie.” Chris said.

She gaped and looked as red as her corset. “I…I don’t do that!”

“Yeah, and I don’t bring a few beers home when I am out at home.”

I laughed at his little joke, I don’t know why I couldn’t stop laughing at everything he said. I was being a complete flirt. I couldn’t help myself.

“You should have seen her the time she drank half a bottle of vodka. She was making drinks, taking a sip and telling the customer they tasted fine! She’s lucky I didn’t fire her that night.”

“Oh please Christopher! You totally let me do it because you wanted to get me drink and ready to go back to your place after, remember?”

The laughter came to a screeching halt and he glared at her. “Yeah, my mistake. Thanks for making me sound like a guy who uses his co-workers.”

She looked him over with a snide smile. “Better that someone tells her, so she doesn’t end up like me.”

“Because you have it so hard, Brooke. You always have to be the center of attention don’t you?”

“I have to be the center of attention?!” she screeched motioning to herself. “Oh please, you have been ogling over her all night while I worked your stupid bar and made all the money your just going to throw away. Why don’t you go buy yourself another tan macho man, so you can impress her even more.”

“Why don’t you go get a breast reduction with the raise I gave you  so you can actually see the drinks your making instead of staring down at your own cleavage!”

Ouch. I didn’t have to question if these two were ex-lovers. It was quite apparent.

“Hey,” I said cutting in. “It’s getting late, I need to get going. What time did you want me to come in tomorrow?”

They both looked over at me, still wearing their fuming faces.

Chris went placid almost immediately. “Uh, actually, could you possibly work at 10 am tomorrow? I think working in the day, we can work more with you and teach you better than at night.”

“Um sure…I can do that. See you then…”

“Goodnight Claire.”

“Night…” Brooke hissed.

I left them squabbling on the corner, glad to be walking home alone.

When I got to my house I noticed the lights were on and Travis’s car was in my driveway. I forgot I invited him over for dinner and a movie.  I told him I had to work…didn’t he remember?

I walked into the house to smell the wonderful aroma of home cooking.

“Travis?” I called out.

Travis came strolling out of my kitchen wearing my cooking apron and looking like something off the cooking channel.

“Holy Simolie, you look out of this world. I thought you lost that outfit.”

“Travis,” I said laughing at his appearance. “What are you doing wearing my apron? You look ridiculous!”

“Hey, I didn’t want to get dirty.”

“What are you doing  in there anyway? Am I still going to have a kitchen?”

“I’m cooking, Claire….” He said as of I was dense. “I am making your favorite, spaghetti bolognese with tossed salad. It’s a congratulatory dinner for getting your job.”

“Aww Travis…”

He smiled proudly. “Who is the best boyfriend? Lay one on me.”

I giggled and leaned in giving him the kiss he deserved.

“So how was your first night at work?”

“Eh, I don’t really want to talk about it right now.” I said reluctantly.

“Well I hope this meal goes better than it sounds like your first night did. You can tell me all about it over dinner.”

“Oh! The pasta!” he said suddenly and charged off toward the kitchen leaving me  to recall my unfortunate first night at Red Rendezvous.

I ended up assisting him with the preparation. I really didn’t trust Travis to not burn down my kitchen.

We enjoyed our dinner together, and I admit, it was one of the best meals I had in four years.

While we enjoyed dinner I told him about my crazy night with Chris and Brooke. It almost felt like I had an audience…

After dinner we left the dishes in the sink and got right to the movie. More like Travis got right to the “moves”. I guess pulling this outfit out of the back of my closet did more than just make me extra tips.

We ended up skipping the movie and went right to intermission.

And from there, to the finale.

For being so sweet, I even let him sleep over even though I had to work in the morning.

The next morning I woke up at 9:35 and almost screamed. I had to be at work at 10! I stumbled out of bed, bleary eyed and threw myself into the shower in hopes I wouldn’t be late to work. That was the last thing I needed after messing up the night before.

By some stroke of luck, I made it with two minutes to spare.

Chris was waiting for me and we went right to training. He taught me the proper way to pour and even showed me a few of his bar tending bottle tossing tricks…but I told him unless he wanted to restock his whole bar I should stick to just pouring normal.

My shift was going great, everything seemed in order. Chris even sat down and let me take over.

“Is Brooke coming in today?” I asked.

“In a while. I wanted you to get comfortable before she came in and started giving you attitude.  I want to apologize about last night. You didn’t need to witness all that.”

“It’s not like I haven’t seen two people argue before.” I said sticking little star stir sicks in each drink I prepared.

“Yeah, but that was unprofessional. Brooke can get under my skin sometimes.”

“Don’t sweat it boss, maybe you need a drink,” I slid him one off my tray with a wink.

I walked off the serve my drinks, leaving him with a stupid smile he usually put on me.

A while later an elderly lady came to the bar and ordered four waters with lemon.

“Is that all I can get you miss?” I asked, confused. She didn’t look like the type that came into a bar. She looked like she should be home knitting swears for her grand-kids.

“It’s Mrs. Riddle, little girl. Yes, water with lemon is the only think I ever drink. You would know that if you worked here more than a day.”

I almost overfilled her glass. Mrs Riddle. The same woman who owned my creepy house before me? How did she know I only worked here a day?

She pulled out a book and began reading.

I carefully slid the tray beside her on the counter.

“It’s on the house…” I said playfully.

“I know it’s on the house,” she sniveled. “You’re not funny.”

I ripped my smile off my face and turned away. Not only was she creepy, she was mean too.

I watched her closely as she drank every water, leaving the lemons. After all four glasses were drained she stood up to leave. I felt compelled to make amends with her and maybe get to know her. Perhaps I could get some answers about my house.

“Mrs. Riddle?” I called out, approaching her from around the bar.

“What?” she asked looking over at me. “I don’t tip for water.”

“It’s not that. I just wanted to introduce myself. I am new in town.”

I held out my hand. “My name is Claire O’Connell.I…I bought your old house you used to live in.”

Her eyes went wide and she gave me the most curious look. “I am Anna-Liza Riddle. So, you’re the one who bought my old house. Well, well…it’s about time someone took care of my baby.”

I released a hesitant laugh. “It needs a lot of work, but I plan to fix it up really nice.”

“That house has many of memories. You shouldn’t do to much renovating, you change things that should remain as they were.”

“I don’t plan on gutting it or anything…just new wall paper…some paint…”

“My husband picked that wall paper. He liked it the way it was.” she said with an icy tone, her eyes narrowing.

“Oh…I didn’t know.”

“You will know soon enough.” she said with a cold cackle.

“Excuse me?” I asked, feeling chills run down my spine.

“Oh, they didn’t tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

“That the Riddles don’t like snoopy little girls. Oh, My husband never liked blue wall paper.”

She gave me a thin, malicious smile and waddled out with out another word, leaving me speechless.

How could she have known the color of my wall paper with out going in my house..or had she?

After she left, I was visibly disturbed enough for Chris to take notice. He decided I could use a break and offered to buy me lunch at the cafe down the street.

We took an outdoor table and I proceeded to explain the stranger side of my life.

“The house looked nothing like it did in the picture my uncle sent me. Then a few days after I moved in, strange things started happening.”

“Like what?” Chris asked.

“Like I heard a woman crying and when I went to find the source it was coming from my second bedroom which is vacant.”

” Creepy.”

“It gets worse,” I insisted. “There is a mirror on the wall in the room that doesn’t belong to me and when I looked into it, I saw some woman standing behind me in a wedding dress.”

Chris’s eyes grew wide. “No way.”

“Yes!” I yelped. “And I turned around and no one was there. So I called my boyfriend and he came over. He thinks I am insane. Other things have happened to…I hear music sometimes.”

“Music. What kind?”

“It sounds almost like a song you would hear coming from a music box. I am stuck with this house now, I don’t know what to do. I am not sure if I am crazy.”

“Well, I grew up in Twinbrook and there have always been stories about the Riddle family. They really are a weird lot. That’s why I came over when I saw you talking to her. She’s not normal.”

“I know that now.”

“Maybe you can do some research on the house. See if there is any reason for there to be restless spirits there. All I know was Mrs Riddle was mean and her husband did a lot of traveling over seas. I’m not sure what he did for a job.”

“I think I will do that…” It did sound like a good idea. Maybe I could dig up some dirt that would bring light to the whole situation.

There was a long silence between us.

“So, do you think I am crazy?”

“No. I think there really are things that are unexplainable…like ghosts. If there was a house in this town I imagine to be haunted, yours would be it.”

I sighed, not feeling much better. “Thanks, I’ll sleep better knowing that.”

He decided to walk me home after our dinner and when we got to the house he opted not to come in.

“You did a great job today, Claire. I think you’re catching on.”

“Thanks, I feel much more comfortable now.”

“If you need anything, let me know.”

“Thanks Chris, I might need to call you sometime. My boyfriend has heard enough of my…”headcase stories” as he calls them.”

“I’m always willing to listen. I’ve always thought this sort of thing was kinda cool…you know haunted houses, ghosts…”

“I know exactly what you mean. I on the other hand don’t like getting scared out of my wits.”

He laughed.

“What time do you want me to come in to work tomorrow?”

“Take the day off. You’ve earned it. Gives you more time to play detective.” he winked and stepped past me. “Night Claire.”

“Night..” I watched him walk off, wishing I had an understanding boyfriend like him instead of Travis.

I changed into a more comfortable outfit and headed to the public library.

I found alot of books on Twinbrook’s past, but nothing that would help me solve my problem.

I found one book that listed all the homes in Twinbrook and their former owners. I figured that might be a good place to start.

I found out that the home was built by an Ebenezer Riddle who was a farmer. The most recent owner was Andrew Riddle. I assumed that was Anna-Liza’s husband. None of this was helping much, so I decided to take the next step.

I looked up the history of the Riddle family online.

What I found astonished me. It seemed there was more drama than I had imagined.

‘Andrew Riddle and Elise Morgan to be married on June 14t. A reception will follow at Fairview Park, High noon.’ It read.

That meant that Andrew had been married once before. Or had he? I searched for this mystery wife and came up with a headline even more intriguing.

Elise Morgan disappeared the night before wedding. Townsfolk baffled.’

She just disappeared? I felt chills run down my spine as I read the article.

‘Elise Morgan of the prominent Morgan family, sister of Anna-Liza Morgan was pronounced missing this morning when she did not show up for her own wedding. Towns people are baffled at her sudden disappearance. Family members claim the last time they saw her, she was heading to a wedding dress fitting and then to have dinner with her future husband, Andrew Riddle.’

Could the woman I saw in the mirror be the dead Elise Riddle coming back to look for her husband. The thought made my insides turn to jello.

I searched: Elise Morgan dead?

Another newspaper article came up.

‘Twinsbrook County officials call off search for the missing Riddle Bride.’

“The Morgan family mourned the loss of their daughter, Elise Morgan of Twinbrook, only nineteen years old. This morning a private ceremony will be held in Fairview Park.”

“Elise, if you’re out there, please come home to us.’ stated her mother as she tearfully clutched onto her husband Tom Morgan.

This statement from her once future husband, Andrew Riddle, who in only a mere 8 hours from their wedding, lost sight of his bride-to-be. ‘Elise, I love you and miss you dearly. Come back to me and make me the happiest man alive.’

Her sister, Anna-Liza Riddle held out hope with this statement, “Elise, I know you’re alive somewhere out there. We promise we will not be angry with you, just come home. We love you.”

By the time I was done with my research it was almost 10PM.

I borrowed a book on the history of Twinbrook just to quench my own curiosity about my new location.

My whole walk home I felt like someone was watching me from the shadows. By the time I reached my door I was happy to be there.

I stepped inside and locked the door behind me. I took a moment to pause and listen for any strange sounds that were frequenting my home. I thankfully found it quiet.

I swallowed a scream as my phone rang. “Hello?”

“A good girl knows to mind her own business.”

“What…? Hello? Who is this?” I asked.

“Leave the past alone, Claire O’Connell, or you’ll disappear too.”

“Mrs. Riddle?” I asked, my voice shaking.

The line went dead.

“Hello!” I asked again to no avail.

The caller was gone.

I thought to call Travis or Chris, but it was late. Travis would call me crazy and I knew Chris was probably at work.

I decided to calm my nerves by immersing myself in the book I borrowed from the library.

I read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open another second. I slept with the lights on, still a bit uneasy from the phone call.

It was just past two am when I suddenly was awoken from my sleep. I rubbed my eyes and looked around.

It was then that I heard the soft music again.

It the same song as the day before that sounded like a music box.

I sat strait up in bed, holding my breath. It was so close, every note causing my heart to beat faster.

I stood up as I realized to my dismay, it was coming from the one room I had not explored.  The attic.

Continue to Part II of The Music Box –>


2 Responses to “The Music Box Part I”

  1. Wow, this story is amazing. I would comment further but I’ve got to start reading part II…

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