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Midnight Born

Tales of the Whispering Walls

By K.H. ObergfollPublished about a month ago 12 min read
Midnight Born
Photo by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash

If only walls could talk—it’s a catchy if not unremarkable thing most of us say in passing. Only select few have ever witnessed such an occurrence—after all, who would believe them if they told? It’s genius really—something Abigail Hensley had grown up hearing—“mind the walls my dear, careful what you say. They’re always watching, always listening.”

Abigail Hensley was quite disinterested in such foolery. She was nearing her fourteenth birthday and had yet to see anything unusual—especially not a talking wall. Besides, she’d heard all the stories—mostly from her housekeeper Bernadette Brighton—an older woman nearing her late sixties with a round plump face that filled in every single one of her old wrinkles. Bernadette kept the same hair style day in and day out—tucking wayward tufts of powdery brown hair into a tight bun at the nape of her neck. All aside their housekeeper was everything but pleasant—secretive really—and Abigail did not like her, not one bit.

Of course—none of that would matter; soon enough Abigail would be on her way to school and away from the crazy old lady—this brought a smile to her face. Mostly because in the recent weeks Bernadette had added onto Abigail’s list of hefty chores—“scrub this,” or “wash that,” and then there was Abigail’s favorite—“oh no my dear, you missed a spot—tsk, tsk, tsk.”

Come to think of it, Abigail wasn’t even sure why her parents Tom and Veronica Hensley kept Bernadette this long. Abigail was the last of their eight children and the old woman didn’t do a bit of cooking outside of breakfast—which was her specialty—otherwise it was cleaning only—or as her parents said—minding the house—whatever that meant. It was clear Abigail was the one doing all the cleaning while Bernadette scrubbed and scrubbed, wiping down the bare wall at the end of the kitchen; this was a daily if not hourly task. It was the one place in the entire house Abigail had been warned to steer clear of and yet amidst all the cleaning the wall still looked like it had a perpetual sheen of dust; a five-o-clock shadow of sorts.

Besides, Abigail held some resentment towards this very wall. She had been scolded, warned and otherwise threatened since she was about two or three—whatever age she had taken a marker to the blank canvas—and what a mistake that was. Her parents ran about fanning Bernadette and grabbing buckets of warm soapy water and thick bristled brushes to quickly scrub away the stick figures. You could still make-out the remnants of a poorly done sun—a swirling circle with haphazard lines jutting out of it the size of her hand.

“Don’t ever, ever, ever do that again,” Veronica Hensley had scolded, scooping young Abigail up in a frenzied hurry as Bernadette sat screeching in a wooden chair nearby. Even to this day the wall reminded her something wasn’t normal in their otherwise boring, simple family and this was not an ordinary wall; not in the slightest.


The night everything changed was literally the eve of Abigail’s last night as a thirteen-year old and as fate would have it—it was a chilly, fog-filled night in early December. The moon cut through billowy clouds illuminating her otherwise dark room. She had been awakened by a soft, stern voice—a familiar voice.


Abigail sat bolt upright. Her midnight blue wallpaper seemed to glow faintly. Ripples of hushed words bounced off the otherwise still walls, rippling out in cascading rings. She could have sworn she heard her name being whispered.

It was as though—no—that couldn’t be it. She swore it was as though the talking was coming from her very walls—but how? Abigail stepped onto her bedside rug—careful not to make a noise. She slowly crept over to the wall opposite her bed—yes—it was moving but she could barely make out what was being said.

Abigail closed her eyes, opening and closing them several times in disbelief. Why did she hear Bernadette’s voice? She moved down the hall towards the bare wall in the Hensley’s kitchen—Bernadette stood hunched, her ear only just touching the wall; Abigail knew here wasn’t anything on the other side of the wall but an empty hallway.

The walls could talk—Abigail was looking at it with her very eyes—the bare wall was engaged in a stifled, heated conversation with the Hensley’s housekeeper Bernadette—but what were they saying? What were they talking about? Abigail knew she had to get closer. She tip-toed through the dark hallway; the wall moved with every intonation—shaking it’s head, nodding, the ripples of the wall contorted into what could only be described as a face. Or rather, it had all the features of a face—Abigail could barely make out the hollow dips where eye-sockets would be, the scrunching of a nose and the grimace of wide-expressive lips.

“The girl knows, she knows,” the wall said, “see, you’ve done it now, woke her up…careful Bernie, she’s going to find out…”

The wall seized briefly before flattening completely—Bernadette’s shoulders dropped even further to the ground as she hung her head sullenly against the textured wallpaper; cooing.

Abigail couldn’t pull herself away as she watched Bernadette pleading with the bare wall to come back. “Jasper…Jasper….Jasper…we weren’t finished talking, I need your advice. Tomorrow is the day…she isn’t ready…what do I do…”


The next day Abigail walked by Bernadette who was meddling around the kitchen ignoring her as usual.

“Ahem,” Abigail whispered, clearing her throat.

“Oh yes…Happiest of Birthdays my dear, glad to see you’re awake.”

Something in Bernadette’s flat affect told Abigail the sentiment didn’t exactly match the words. Bernadette hardly lifted her eyes from the boiling kettle on the burner. She had heaps and heaps of seasoned potato cubes simmering in a cast-iron pan and were nearing a burnt state. There was enough food to feed a small army—this was highly unusual for Bernadette who was anything but a novice in the kitchen. Besides, she never made more food than was necessary, she wasn’t a wasteful person.

“Your parent’s are out, picking something up for you. I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night so I’m going to take a quick cat-nap. I have your birthday breakfast almost finished if you want to take a seat.”

Abigail obliged, seating herself at the chair facing the bare-unmoving wall. Her eyes fixed on its plainness. If she stared long enough she could swear a face looked back at her.

Abigail thought back to the conversation a few hours earlier and looked away, not wanting to get caught.

“I see you changed seats today,” Bernadette teased as she sat the piping hot plate of food in front of Abigail—who smiled quietly in response as she waited until Bernadette left the room before scarfing the food down, burning her taste buds in the process.

There wouldn’t be a lot of time if Abigail was going to find out for herself what this talking wall was all about. By now she was sure Bernadette was up in her room, the door had closed and bolted; Abigail gave it a few more minutes before sliding out of her seat and easing over to the blank wall a few feet away. It seemed much larger than she remembered.

Abigail stood—her nose pressing gently against the cold wallpaper, daring to blink. Nothing happened. The mauve colored floral print sat motionless, unmoving. Even the dust clung to the fabric in an unrelenting fashion.

Abigail took a deep breath, “hello,” she whispered—feeling stupid that she was talking to a wall.

What am I doing wrong—Abigail mused aloud, running her hands along the smooth surface. She sat cross-legged on the floor facing the empty wall. It always gave her pause—there was no furniture in front of it, no pictures, nothing nailed or tacked to it. In all her years she couldn’t believe she never stopped to pay attention. Of course all of this fuss was because the wall was alive—yes—that had to be it.

Abigail took another deep breath—her forehead resting against the wall.

“Yes…” the wall hissed curiously. “Abigail is that you?”

Abigail jumped back startled. The wall knew her name…

“How’d you…”

“We’ve been waiting for you to become curious enough to say something, to come and ask me a question or share your deepest, darkest secrets,”

“We?” Abigail whispered, taken aback. The voice was pleasant enough, a dark, deep brooding voice—a man’s voice—wise beyond its years. If she closed her eyes and listened long enough she imagined a frail old man sitting in a chair next to a warm roaring fire as he spoke into a swirling crystal ball; his wiry eyebrows and long scraggly beard grazing against his thick robed cloak as he looked down at her sitting small on the kitchen floor.

“Happy Birthday my dearest Abigail…” the voice continued, ignoring her curious gaze. “I’m glad you finally ventured over close enough to carry a conversation. Better late than never…”

Abigail smiled; her cheeks bright red, her pulse quickening as the palms of her hand grew clammy with sweat. She couldn’t believe it. This whole time the house held these secrets and she had no idea. She’d never look at a blank wall the same. Abigail thought back to all the unusual things she’d missed—her parent’s whispers in empty rooms when she thought they were talking to themselves—this whole time they were conversing with a wall, a very proper one at that.

Abigail was so enthralled, so engrossed in her conversation with the giant wall that she hadn’t heard the sound of the kitchen door opening or her parents coming in with arms full of presents. She must have spent what felt like an hour talking animatedly about anything and everything that came to mind.

“You aren’t asking the right questions my dear, there will be plenty of time for all that, but now, I have to leave you…” and with that the wall contorted itself back into something more recognizable.

Abigail sat back feeling slightly hurt—this must have been how Bernadette felt last night. She finally understood it; there was still so much she wanted to know.

“I see you finally made friends with Jasper,” Abigail’s father’s voice cut into her thoughts as she quickly spun around. “Thought you would never…”

“Jasper,” Abigail whispered.

“Yes, Jasper—he’s our journeyman, our overseer. His full name and title is Jasper the Stoic, Guardian of Walls and Lives—Hensley Dominium, circa AD 1340. He’s been with this house in our family for dozens of centuries—as far back as we can remember; a very loyal member of our family if I say so myself.” Tom continued, tipping his hat in Jaspers direction.

Abigail’s eyes furrowed together, “what is he, a ghost?”

“No, no—he’s a wizard, the oldest, most decorated of them all. You see, it’s hard to explain—something you will learn once you go off to school,” Tom began, “but every noble family has one—he’s our nightmare protector, familial advisor, curator, wish defender, bodily protector, information steward and so much more. Watching over us at every moment, keeping us safe, prosperous and orderly so we don’t repeat the misgivings of our past,” Tom whispered as he and Veronica handed a letter to their youngest child—Abigail grabbed it excitedly.

“I didn’t think I was going to be attending…” she said ripping the envelope and pulling the letter from its confines. Inside scrawling type-font words peppered the page from end to end. It was the formal invite she had waited all winter-break for—the orientation and introductory letter from “Drummary Girls and Boys School of Ardent Witchcraft and Mystical Creation.”

“I can’t believe it,”

“Believe it, you deserve it,” Veronica blurted, blotting a series of tears from the wells of her eyes.

“It’s a miracle all eight of our children have been able to attend Drummary, it’s an absolute miracle,” Veronica cried, her husband Tom pulling her in for a reassuring hug.

“Stop all that crying, this is a blessed moment,” Bernadette muttered as she came puttering into the room, a beaming smile plastered on her otherwise unmoving face—the first time Abigail had seen a hint of happiness in her eyes.

“Read the letter, they should have assigned you to your very own overseer—likely a female…” Bernadette continued. Sure enough near the bottom of the letter was the name of her overseer with explicit instruction that followed—

Verdie the Sleepless Whisperer of Welcome Night and Hapless Days—Overseer of Abigail Hensley, Circa AD 2019. Please call her Verdie, she comes out when you least expect it and is always there when you need it. She will be a forever faithful friend and confidant but please take heed—all first years assigned to an overseer must abide by the following reminders. Overseers are sensitive and ticklish; some are talkative while others prefer not to be bothered. They’re not a drawing board, a pin-cushion, a wall-ornament or a punching bag. Don’t drape sheets to cover their faces or they just might blow them away in spitting fury and begin to peel from their walls. It's quite a mess. Some might cry or howl, or hoot like an owl, others will grunt and make fun and hunt you down in the halls. Don’t let that embarrass you none for we all will go through it. It’s best to make friends with yours as they follow you everywhere, popping up at the most inopportune of times. So don’t be alarmed if they give you a fright. Verdie was hand-picked for you, she’s vibrant and relaxed, playful and coy—all the things you’d expect her to be and more. Starting on the night you receive this letter. Before you drift off to sleep, pay Verdie a visit. The best thing about overseers is that they appear on any wall at any time, just designate a home for them and they will appear,”

Abigail finished reading the letter—signed by Headmistress Luvenia Toadswallow and smiled at the thought of never being alone. Her head filled with all the magical things she would soon be faced with; she couldn't wait for night fall, this had been the best birthday yet.

Short StoryYoung AdultFantasy

About the Creator

K.H. Obergfoll

Author. Writer. Adventurer. World Creator. Aspiring to be Published by 2023.

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