ABOUT THE BOOK:
Title: THE SEPTEMBER HOUSE
Author: Carissa Orlando
Pub. Date: September 5th, 2023
Find it: Bookshop.org | Amazon |
The walls of the house were bleeding again.
This sort of thing could be expected; it was, after all, September.
The bleeding wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been accompanied by nightly moaning that escalated into screaming by the end of the month like clockwork. The moaning started around midnight and didn't let up until nearly six in the morning, which made it challenging to get a good night's sleep. Since it was early in the month, I could still sleep through the racket, but the sleep was disjointed and not particularly restful.
Before Hal absconded to wherever it was he went, he used to stretch and crack what sounded like the entirety of his skeleton. Margaret, he would say, we're getting old.
Speak for yourself, I would reply, but he was right. I was starting to feel a bit like the house itself sometimes-grand but withering, shifting in the wind and making questionable noises when the foundation settled. All the moaning-and-screaming business in September certainly didn't help me feel any younger.
That is to say, I was not looking forward to late September and the nightly screaming. It was going to be a long month. But that's just the way of things.
As for the bleeding, it always started at the top floor of the house-the master bedroom. If I wasn't mistaken, it started above our very bed itself. There was something disconcerting about opening your eyes first thing in the morning and seeing a thick trail of red oozing down your nice wallpaper, pointing straight at your head. It really set a mood for the remainder of the day. Then you walked out into the hallway and there was more of it dripping from in between the cracks in the wallpaper, leaking honey-slow to the floor. It was a lot to take in before breakfast.
As early as it was in September, the blood hadn't yet made it to the baseboards. Give it a week, however, and it would start pooling on the floor, cascading down the stairs in clotting red waterfalls. By the end of the month, deft footwork would be required to walk down the hallway or descend the stairs without leaving a trail of prints throughout the house. I had grown practiced in dodging blood over the past few years, but even I had slipped up on occasion, especially once the screaming was in full effect. Sleep deprivation really takes a toll on your motor functioning.
I used to worry over the walls, getting a bucket and soap and scrubbing until my arms were sore, only to see my work undone before my eyes. I would rub the sponge over a crack in the wallpaper and watch a fresh blob of red leak out of the open wound that was the wall over and over again. The wallpaper is ruined, I fretted, but it never was. It all went away in October. So now I just allowed the walls to bleed and waited patiently.
The first year we were in the house, Hal tried to convince me that the bleeding was just a leak. An oozing red leak. He carried on with that line of reasoning much longer than was logical. By the time the blood poured down the stairs and Hal was almost ready to admit that maybe it wasn't a simple leak, October hit and the blood vanished. Hal considered it a problem solved. I suppose he thought it was an isolated event and never considered that such a thing might be cyclical. He seemed surprised when the blood returned that second September. There's that leak again, he mused, fooling nobody. Everything, of course, changed after the third September, and Hal's opinions about the bleeding during this fourth September could be best summed up by his abrupt absence. I supposed I ought to feel trepidatious about facing September alone. However, I was never quite alone in this house, now, was I?
Excerpted from The September House by Carissa Orlando Copyright © 2023 by Carissa Orlando. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carissa Orlando has a doctorate in clinical-community psychology and specializes in work with children and adolescents. In her “day job,” Carissa works to improve the quality of and access to mental health care for children and their families. Prior to her career in psychology, Carissa studied creative writing in college and has written creatively in some form since she was a child. It was only a matter of time before Carissa, an avid horror fan for much of her life, merged her understanding of the human psyche and deep love for storytelling into a piece of fiction.