Once upon a time, in a village small enough to not yet have a name, a young girl with long, shiny black hair named Teresa was in her house, making herself a cup of hot chocolate. This was how Teresa started every day. Once she sat down in the armchair that took up a large area in her living room, she would wash her cup and get dressed in one of two of her favourite outfits. Aside from her nightie, these were the only two outfits Teresa owned. She would wash one in the basin while wearing the other, then hang it out to dry on some rope to dry. Teresa didn’t have to worry about any of her outfits getting dirty because she never went outside and never left her house at all. The inside of the house was darker than the usual houses in the village, and the windows much dirtier, due to the number of rose vines covering the outside of the house, keeping Teresa trapped inside.
Most people in the village didn’t know how long Teresa had lived in the house, but they did know that if they tried to enter, the rose vines would stop the unwanted intruder, wrapping themselves tightly around every door and window and sending the inside of the house into temporary darkness. Only one villager was allowed to get close to the house; Damien, the elderly shopkeeper. Rumours had spread through the village that Damien had known Teresa before she had become trapped in the house, which is why the house allowed him to get so close. Once a week, Damien would make a delivery to Teresa by leaving a box of goods at her doorstep, the vines working their magic to ensure the delivery made it to Teresa without interruption.
Many villagers had forgotten that Damien was, in fact, Teresa’s grandfather and had known Teresa very well many years ago when they lived together in the house she was now trapped in. At that time, Teresa lived with her mother and father in the downstairs part of the house while Damien and his wife lived upstairs. This was a very happy time and Teresa had grown to love the house more than anything she could ever own. Damien had passed the house on to his son, Teresa’s father, in line with the strict rules the villagers had on who could own a house: Fathers passed their possessions and property down to their sons. If a father could not pass the house down to a son, then the house became the property of the Village Elders, who were free to decide on what to do with the property. One day, the family received terrible news. Teresa’s father had been instructed to work in a village many miles away. Being an only child, there was no one for Teresa’s father to pass the house on to when he moved away and the elders had told him they would soon take ownership of their house.
Weeks of sorrow followed in the household and the happy memories were quickly being overtaken with sadness. Teresa had opened up to her grandfather about how unfair it was that sons should be the only ones allowed to own property. Her grandfather agreed, and, two days before the elders were coming to take ownership of, Damien took Teresa to see Mildura, a local witch doctor. Damien begged for a Mildura to provide a solution to their problem, with the witch doctor producing a packet of seeds and instructing them to plant them around the house. She told them that they would produce vines to help protect the house and to keep anyone who was not invited from entering. Teresa and her grandfather rushed home and planted the seeds around the house by the light of the moon.
For the next two days, the vines grew quickly, covering nearly every inch of the house. When the village elders arrived to claim the house, Teresa, her parents and her grandparents were waiting outside. As the family put what few belongings they had in the cart, Teresa ran back inside the house and locked the door. Despite the pleas of her mother and father, Teresa refused to leave the house. One of the Elders attempted to enter the house through force, and the vines tightened their grip around the door handles, refusing to let him in. The Elders took their axes and swung them at the vines but found they were unable to even leave a mark on their bodies.
The Elders underestimated Teresa’s determination and decided to wait for her to leave the house. Several months passed, and gradually The Elders gave up trying to enter the house or attempting to convince Teresa to leave. One by one, The Elders and The Villagers forgot about Teresa and, in the stories that were told, the house was simply referred to as The Vine House. In the box with her weekly supplies, Damien left a note taped to the tin of hot chocolate which read:
The house is yours, Young Teresa.
Stay strong until the times have changed.
All my love,
Your caring grandfather.
This story was written using inspiration from this photo prompt, provided by Sue Vincent. Please check out her very active and supportive blog and say hi.