The House with the Light on Even Though It Was the Middle of the Day

This is a short story written by (un)renowned author Hubert J. Watergipridget. I like it so much that I have uploaded it for your enjoyment. Enjoy.

In the rather odd town of Oddington, Burnell Manor is considered something of an oddity. For a house to be viewed as odd in a town known and named for its oddness, it must be a very odd little place indeed. Everything about the manor was odd: its doors were odd, its decorations were odd, its windows were odd. Oddest of all for the manor, there was on the top floor, on the far left of the building, a room that always had its light on. No matter day or night, rain or shine, dark or bright, the light remained on.

Emilia would walk by Burnell Manor every day on her way to and from school. Emilia was not odd, which, in the odd little town of Oddington, made her incredibly odd! On her walk to and from the schoolyard, she would approach Burnell Manor and wonder to herself if today was the day that the light would finally be off. It never was. No matter if it was day or night, rain or shine, dark or bright, that light remained on. Summer would turn to autumn, autumn would make way for winter, which in turn would give way to spring, and yet the light remained on.

Quite often Emilia would find herself thinking of walking into the garden of Burnell Manor, going up the cobblestone footpath to the big, green-painted oak door at the front of the house. She would think of knocking her hand against the manor’s big door. She would think of the door opening, and of her saying to the owner of the manor: ‘Excuse me, I don’t mean to disturb you but there is a light on in that room, the one on the top floor on the far left.’ Then, having said that, she would think of being thanked by the manor’s owner. Burnell Manor was a big house, bigger than any other in Oddington, and big houses meant rich owners, and rich owners who had reason to be thankful meant big rewards for little girls like Emilia.

Day after day, week after week, season after season, Emilia thought of knocking on that door. On two occasions she very nearly did. The first occurred on a bright October day. She had even gone so far to walk into the garden and step foot on that cobblestone path. But before she could step any further something caught her attention and made her stop in her tracks.

In that room, the one on the top floor on the far left of the house, where the light was on no matter the time of day, Emilia saw — or Emilia thought she saw — movement in the window. The window was very high up, and Emilia was only very small so she couldn’t be too sure, but to her, it looked as if a face was peering down at her. A room has a reason to have a light on if there is a face in there, Emilia thought. A face in a room means there is a head attached to that face, and a neck and a body and limbs attached to that. Emilia did not take another step forward towards the door after seeing that face. Instead, she took many steps back, walking out of the garden back onto the road and continuing on her walk to school. 

The second came months later on a chilly, cold, snowy day. Though it was morning it was very, very dark. Emilia could not see much farther than just her hand in front of her as she walked along the road. Once again Emilia found herself passing by the front gate of Burnell Manor, and once again she could see that bright light on in that top floor room. From her position at the gate, she could into the room, for the juxtaposition of the darkness of the outside world seemed to intensify the light coming out of the room. In that brightly lit room, the one that the top floor on the far left, there was an assortment of decorations. Pictures and portraits and landscapes of men and women and lakeside views could be seen from where Emilia stood. They were so vivid in detail that even though the room was very high up and Emilia was very small, she could make out even the faintest of lines on the pictures and the portraits and the landscapes. What Emilia could not see was a face. With no face, Emilia thought, there was no head. With no head, there was no neck or body or limbs either. No head or body or limbs meant there was no person in that room, and no person in that room meant there was no reason for the light to be on.

Emilia opened the gate to Burnell Manor. She walked into the garden, up the cobblestone path, towards the big green door. She stopped in front of the door and moved her wrist to begin knocking on its oaky exterior. Yet she could not do it. Before her knuckles rapped against the wood, she heard a sound coming from inside –- a sound like none she had ever heard before. It was not as scary sound or a sad sound or even a worried sound — it was a sound of bliss and joy and happiness, a sound so expressive that it sounded more animalistic than human. Somebody is so happy that they ought not to be disturbed, Emilia thought. So, just as before, Emilia found herself stepping away from the door and walking back onto the road to walk to school.

On the third occasion, Emilia did knock on the door.

It was a muggy autumn day; the green leaves on the trees were beginning to turn to amber and red. Unlike the previous two occasions, Emilia was walking back from school when she found herself in front of Burnell Manor. The light in the room seemed brighter than ever. It was as if the cradle of light and life itself was emanating from that room on the top floor on the far left. Or perhaps the owners have replaced the light with a newer brighter one. A light that is on at all times must surely be expensive on the bill so using a brighter, more energy-efficient bulb would make more sense.

Whatever the reason the light shone brighter than ever before. It was a brightness Emilia could no longer ignore. Like a moth drawn to an open flame, Emilia found herself engrossed by the light’s incandescence. Emilia had to approach the door, even if she knew she shouldn’t. Emilia’s mother had given her the strictest of instructions to walk straight home from school. Emilia’s grandparents would be visiting that evening and Emilia would need to have a bath before they arrived. But all thoughts of walking home and having a bath and seeing her grandparents were not as important to her as knowing why the light in that room was always on. For day upon day, week upon week, season upon season, no matter at day or night, rain or shine, dark or bright, the light had consumed Emilia’s thoughts. Why was it always turned on? Emilia had to know, and today, Emilia decided, would be the day that Emilia would know.

For the third time in her life, Emilia opened the gate to Burnell Manor and walked along the cobblestone path. The cobblestone paving was now littered with fallen leaves. The once green leaves were now squelching under her feet as they turned to amber and red mush. Emilia tried her best to not look at the room; if a face was in the window Emilia would not see it. Emilia tried her best to drown out the sounds surrounding her. If there was a sound, happy or excited or scared and frightened, Emilia would not hear it. To Emilia, there was nothing in the world but her and the big green oak door. The door was her focus; the green became greener, the oak became oakier. Emilia continued walking to the door, one step and then another. No matter how far she walked the door never seemed to get closer. It was as if she was walking on a conveyor belt, unable to walk faster than the machine. But Emilia would not be deterred in her quest. She kept her focus away from the light, she made herself deaf to the sounds around her and her pace quickened so that in no time at all she was once again standing in front of the door.

Emilia cocked her hand and rapped two of her knuckles against the door.

Thud, thud, thud, came the sound of bone smacking against the oak.

Emilia saw no movement. Nor did she hear any sound. For a minute she stood in front of that door without a response. If anybody else had been standing at that door, perhaps they would have determined that nobody was in and went away to carry on their day. But Emilia was not to be deterred. She wanted to know why the light was on and had decided that today would be the day she found out.

She knocked again, harder, sharper. She knocked so hard she even hurt herself and let out a little pang of pain as her finger ricocheted against the frame.

Suddenly, something! What was it? Emilia was unsure. Whether it was movement or sound it was too quick for Emilia to be sure. All that she was able to know was that a movement or a sound meant that somebody was inside the house. And when somebody inside a house hears a knock on their door, they come to answer. Then… a second something. This something was definitely a noise. It was the sound of a latch being lifted or a bolt coming loose from its socket. Whatever it was, it led to the same result: the door was opening.

Now Emilia was fully aware of her surroundings. The light in the room was blinding, so bright and luminous that she could not make out the pictures or the portraits of the landscape, let alone the faintest of lines on those pictures of men and women and lakeside views. If a face was in that window, Emilia would not be able to see. The light was so bright that even just seeing the light from her periphery was enough to momentarily daze her.

The door opened. Standing on the other side, not more than a foot away from Emilia, was the person who had opened it. Emilia took a moment to take in what she was seeing—not because it was some grotesque fiend staring back at her, but because she was still dazed by the light. Inside the house, the light shone even brighter.

‘Can I help you?’ asked the person on the other side of the door.

By now Emilia had regained her sense of self; she was no longer dazed. For the first time, she could get a proper look at the person in front of her. He was a lanky, spindly sort of man; his long features seemed to create an aura of frailty about him. Emilia could not be sure if he was young or old. He had hair atop his head, but in the light it was not clear if it was blonde or white. One of his hands was by his side, the other was resting on the door frame. His fingers were long and thin and unsettling to look at.

‘Can I help you?’ the man repeated.

‘Oh, yes,’ Emilia replied. ‘I just wanted to let you know that your light is on.’

‘Which light?’ the man asked.

‘That one,’ Emilia said, pointing upwards, ‘the one on the top floor, on the far left.’

‘Is it?’ The man stepped forward, coming out of the house and towards Emilia, who bolted back at a very quick pace to get out of his way. ‘Oh, that one — it’s always on.’ The man went back inside and started to close the door.

Emilia didn’t let him. She wanted — needed — to know why the light was always on and had told herself that today would be the day she found out. ‘If you don’t mind my asking,’ she began, ‘why is that light always on? I walk past this Manor on my way to and from school and the light is always on, no matter if it is day or night, rain or shine, dark or bright. I have always wondered why the light is always on. Twice before I have come close to knocking on this green oaken door and asking but have never been brave enough to do it until now. Oh please tell me why this light is always on, no matter day, noon or night?’

The old man looked at Emilia. His face contorted into something, though Emilia was unsure of what. His face was far too gaunt for whichever expression he was trying to make. Emilia did not know if the man was smiling or frowning, thinking or howling.

‘Well, little girl. It seems like you really want to know.’

‘Oh I do sir, truly I do. Not knowing haunts me so.’

‘The reason why the light in that room, the one of the top floor on the far left, is always on is…’

Emilia’s eyes lit up, lit up even brighter than that bright, bright bulb in that room. She leaned in closer to the man. The man leaned in closer to her.

‘The reason why the light is always on is that the light switch is broken.

The man closed the door. All Emilia could hear was the man walking away. All Emilia could see was the bright, bright light.

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