The Yellow house

Mathilde and Laura, both 15 years old, were racing on their bikes down a quaint, treelined suburban street when a soccer ball rolled out into the street, nearly causing Mathilde to fall off her bike.

As Mathilde reached for the ball, a diminutive woman in her 50s snatched it without saying a word and hurried back into a yellow house with a lush front yard of evergreen bushes interspersed with a riot of pinks, reds, and whites. A minivan sat in the driveway.

Laura and Mathilde stared after the woman and at the yellow house.

“Weird,” Laura pondered.


“My mom says they don’t have any kids,”

“Your mom knows them?”

“Nobody knows them. A man and a woman moved in 8 months ago, but they don’t socialize with anyone.”

“Then how does your mom know? Maybe they have a dog.”

Laura shook her head. “No pets. My mom knows everything about everyone as head of the community association. They’re just weird people.”

“Hmmm. We just moved here a month ago. Are we weird?”

“You’re dope,” Laura assured Mathilde, “and your mom makes the best carrot cupcakes.” Laura leaned in to whisper into Mathilde’s ears, “I think the house is haunted. Come on, let’s go find Daniela!”

Laura rode down the street. Mathilde stared curiously at the yellow house. If it were not for all the blinds that were drawn, this yellow house would have been the most charming and inviting home in the neighborhood. Mathilde carried on to catch up with Laura.

The next few days, as Mathilde and Laura hung out, Mathilde would pause in front of the yellow house as if expecting the ball to roll out to the street again and the woman to come out. But nothing.

The next few weeks, Mathilde purposefully biked by the yellow house during different times of the day. Each time the house remained quiet. The blinds remained drawn. She observed that the couple from the yellow house stuck to their weekly routine of leaving the house at 7:50 am and returning home at 5:30 pm. Most of the time she would see shadows of two but sometimes three. But they never had any visitors, so Mathilde was not sure whether there was really a third person or it was a figment of her imagination. In any case, the houselights always turned off at 9 pm sharp with the minivan parked in the driveway. Meanwhile, the neighbors focused on their busy family lives and moved about with their children, their summer activities, pool parties and trips to the beach, the mountains or the lake.

As leaves began to turn orange and yellow and flowers perished, and school resumed, Mathilde had less time to pass by the yellow house. The couple at the yellow house maintained their usual routine.

On Halloween, many houses in the neighborhood had fun decorations out, including Mathilde’s and Laura’s houses. Mathilde passed by the yellow house, expecting it to somehow be decorated as a haunted house since Laura had suggested it was haunted, but it was not decorated. The minivan was in the driveway as usual but the lights were off early that evening as a deterrent to the children in the neighborhood. The next morning on her way to school, Mathilde noticed that the yellow house was teepeed and words like “FUCK U” and “DIE” were spray painted on the exterior. The scene made her sad, so after school she went and bought cleaning supplies to try to help but by the time she got to the yellow house, the house had been restored to perfection.

Before long it was Christmas. Many of the houses in the neighborhood were decked out in festive lights and decorations. Mathilde’s mother made dozens of her famous carrot cupcakes for a community, holiday fundraiser. Mathilde saved two in a box. Then rode her bike up to the yellow house. She noticed the minivan wasn’t in the driveway. She glanced at her watch: it was 6:42 pm on a weeknight. She walked up to the front door and was surprised to find the same soccer ball that rolled out into the street that one day. She rang the doorbell. Waited. No answer.

Perplexed, Mathilde looked around to try to peer in, but all the windows were closed and the blinds still all drawn. She decided to walk around the house. Nothing seemed amiss. All was quiet. She frowned. She went back to the front door. Rang again. Still nothing. She left the box of cupcakes on the doorstep next to the soccer ball and rode away.

The next day, Mathilde past by the yellow house. She noticed that the box of cupcakes was still there with the soccer ball. She managed to peer into the garage. It was empty. Everything around the house remained impeccable. She texted Laura, grabbed the box of cupcakes then rode off on her bike.

Mathilde rode up to Laura’s house. Laura was already at the doorstep waiting for her.

“What’s up?”

Mathilde, concerned, frantically motioned for Laura to follow her, “something weird’s going on at the yellow house.”

“I told you they were weird.”

“No, it’s not that kind weird. Come.”

“I can’t right now. David is here,” Laura winked.

Mathilde looked surprised. “You and David? Since when?”

Laura smiled. She didn’t answer. “What do you think’s going on at the house?”

“They’ve vanished,” Mathilde explained in a panic.

Laura laughed, “don’t be so extra. It’s the holidays. People go out of town.”

That was a good point. Mathilde had not thought of that. She calmed a bit but still felt uneasy. She offered the cupcakes to Laura.

The next week, Mathilde spent time with her parents on their annual ski vacation in Whistler. The time away was restorative. She did not once think about the yellow house.

The holidays came and past. With the new year came new bustles of daily life. On Mathilde’s first day of the new school semester, she rode by the yellow house and was surprised to see a “FOR SALE” sign. The house looked the same as it did the last time she saw it, except the door was slightly ajar and the blinds were all open. She parked her bike and walked into the house.

“Hello?” Mathilde knocked. No answer. She let herself in.

It was a beautiful, updated home with neutral colors throughout. The home smelled freshly cleaned and painted. All the walls were barren. Though the home was immaculate, there was something sterile about it.

Upstairs, Mathilde found three bedrooms – one master, one study, and one soccer-themed bedroom. She wandered into the soccer-themed room on seeing a soccer ball. The name “ALEX” was painted on one wall. She picked up the ball. It felt peculiarly heavy. She noticed a news gazette from another town dated “January 3, 2014.”

She started flipping through the paper then paused on a photo of a smart-looking 15-year-old soccer player resting on a soccer ball.


Mathilde stumbled backwards and felt sudden shortness of breath. She glanced at the name “ALEX” painted on the wall and then stared at the soccer ball. She dropped the gazette and rushed out of the house.

Once outside, Mathilde got on her bike. As she was about to ride away, the soccer ball suddenly rolled into the street. She looked around. There was no one. She picked up the ball then stared at the yellow house whose front yard now only had evergreen bushes, no riots of pinks, reds, and whites.