The Renewal

📅 Published on July 7, 2022

“The Renewal”

Written by Kyle Harrison
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 8.33/10. From 3 votes.
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My friends Kev and Nat were about to celebrate their fourteenth anniversary and wanted it to be something special, so after a few months of indecision, I made the suggestion they renew their vows.

“We’ve done that before though!” Kev told me. “Hmm, but have you done it at the spot where you proposed?” I asked.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” he admitted.

I asked him where he popped the question and he said it was at an old Victorian-style house that was used as a tourist trap. He said Nat always had a thing for old houses and that time period so he took her to the balcony and got down on one knee.

“Sounds like a trip down memory lane would be perfect!” I told him.

But after a Google search, we found that it was now apparently abandoned, the previous owner had died due to Covid and no one had bothered to make sure that the property remained open.

“I guess that’s off the table,” Kev said.

I told him not to be so hasty and did a little bit of digging. A few phone calls later I discovered that the house was still apparently for sale.

“Think of how romantic that would be! You buy the house where you propose and then manage to renew your vows there as well!”

“I don’t have that kind of money.”

I hated to admit that the price was rather steep, but I didn’t want him to be discouraged so I suggested I spread the word to their family and friends.

“I don’t like handouts either Kyle you know that,” Kev muttered. But I knew that their financial situation was because they could hardly make ends meet and both of them were not going to ask for help, so I nodded and claimed I wouldn’t interfere. And then made those calls the moment he left.

A friend in south Florida suggested that we create a GoFundMe.

“It worked when I had to get my dog surgery. It was insane that so many people showed such support,” he told me. But I worried something like that would be easily traceable. “If this is going to be a surprise, it needs to be the kind that their reaction will be timeless.”

Nat’s boss was supposed to give me a call back that afternoon with some ideas but never got around to it. I know that he has been handling a lot of issues lately so I didn’t pry and just kept on plugging to find the solution.

It was actually my wife that had the suggestion that made my jaw drop.

“We could get it. I mean, I just got that settlement, remember? It won’t exactly hurt us, it’s not that much,” she said. “I haven’t even really brought that up to anyone,” I told her.

“All the more to surprise them! And we could use it as a summer rental or something! Or a timeshare or whatever,” she said. We had already made quite a few big investments with the money and I was hesitant to blow more of it.

But after reviewing our budget I realized that she was right and so I made the call.

The phone only rang one time surprisingly and I got a voice that sounded raspy and a bit confused.

“Can I help you…?”

And when I told them I was interested in buying the property they were genuinely shocked and even double-checked.

“You do know that some people claim it needs to be torn down, hmm?” the owner said.

“Look if we want to sell it later, that’s our prerogative. Do you want the money or what?” I asked.

Honestly, I was having some doubts but I knew I had to do something fast because Kev and Nat’s anniversary was only a few weeks away.

“Is this something we can do over the phone by the way? I have work so I can’t drop everything and come down there.”

The owner was flustered but worked through everything. We contacted a local bank and had a conference call where they emailed me all the proper forms. It honestly took less than a few hours but it felt like forever.

“You will get the deed in the mail in about ten business days.”

I checked the calendar and realized it would take too long to surprise them so I insisted that the deed go directly to them. And to have their names on it.

“Mister Harrison, do you recognize that this means you would be giving them the property you just bought?” the lawyer asked.

I knew this didn’t align with what my wife wanted at first but I was so scared of losing this chance I said to go through with it.

And the sale was finalized a short moment later.

Thankfully due to my business background I managed to drop the price considerably. Especially because I recognized that they were actually desperate to sell it.

“The market is bad down there due to the constant hurricanes. And from what I understand… right around the time it closed there was some kind of incident,” I told my wife. She wasn’t entirely happy that we lost an investment but was pleased when she learned we saved money.

And Kev and Nat were shocked, to say the least, when that title made it to them. Well, technically she was the only one that knew so I told her to make the dream of the renewed vows come true.

It was something they both really wanted.

“This is the best gift ever, Kyle. I don’t know how to repay you!” she squealed. I told her that seeing pictures and those smiles when they returned was enough for me.

And I ended the phone call with a happy anniversary.

Then a week passed by and I knew they were headed to the property.

Then two weeks passed by and I tried to call to see how things had gone. I normally talk to Nat almost every other day on Messenger so this was an unusual bit of silence.

I went on Facebook and saw that they had already posted pictures of themselves at the building.

They had dressed up for the occasion and I was pleased to see Kev had even gotten a new ring for the big event.

I tried to call and tease them for not keeping us in the loop about the whole thing, but it kept going to voicemail.

After another few weeks of radio silence, I was beginning to get irritated so I contacted one of her friends out of state.

“You mean she hasn’t called you either? Not at all?” Mel said with a tinge of dread in her throat.

I soon found out that no one had heard from them since they had gone on their trip.

My concern has now tripled and I desperately wanted to be sure they were safe. My wife said I was making a mountain out of a molehill but I insisted that the next time we had a long break,in about a week, we would need to go.

“Seems a waste of a vacation. They probably are just busy.”

But I knew this wasn’t normal behavior. Something was off and something was telling me I needed to discover what.

The break came and I wound up traveling alone. My wife had become sick and had to be quarantined. As much as I wanted to care for her, I knew that I had to resolve what had happened.

Arriving in Florida I immediately checked their address first to confirm my suspicion.

A new family was staying there and the man said they had only been there for about six weeks, which lined up perfectly for the trip Kev and Nat had taken. My heart was beginning to beat faster as I FaceTimed Mel and told her what my search had found so far.

“I think something bad happened at that old tourist trap,” she agreed with me. I had no other choice but to go there and find out for myself.

It was a two-hour drive, and I checked in with my wife to tell her that we were right to be worried. She warned me to be cautious. But I’m not sure I would have listened. My desire for answers outweighed the danger.

As my Uber driver pulled up to the site, I found myself taken aback and confused. “This is the spot?” I asked as I stepped out and looked at the dilapidated manor.

It was but a hollow shell of all the glamorous pictures I had seen online.

“The place hasn’t been used in ages Mate, you sure you want me to drop you here?”

I confirmed it but told him to keep the engine running as I walked toward the iron fence.

It struck me as bizarre to imagine my friends would dare step foot in such an ancient building. It would likely collapse on them in a moment’s notice, I thought as my shoes crunched the dead grass.

It had a ghastly vibe to it, and despite the loneliness I had an uneasy feeling I was being watched.

That grew to a thunderous noise as I stepped into the foyer, cobwebs and dust covering every inch of the abandoned house.

Kev and Nat wouldn’t have even attempted to stay here or explore, I thought as I second-guessed my arrival.

Then behind me the door to the house slammed on its own and I heard a strange laughter from the second floor. It made the hairs on my neck stand on edge.

There was someone else here.

Carefully I went up the steps using my smartphone as a light as I called out. But no voice responded. I did hear soft music play though, urging me to move toward its source. It sounded like their song. Elvis Presley…

I can’t help falling in love…

It was coming from one of the balconies and as I approached it, I once again was at a loss for words. There were silhouettes there, dark and fearsome. But also familiar.

My friends. But they were not there in the flesh. I pulled back a canopy of webs to see that it was just a mirage, my eyes playing tricks on me.

Or perhaps something grander and more haunting than I cared to admit. I began to explore and noticed other signs of their presence. A dress on one of the beds matching what Kev said she had worn on their date. And a portrait of them in the main library. When I saw it, it made me feel wonder and fright. How could it be here and what was it trying to tell me?

In the picture, Kev was proposing just as he said that he did. The beginning of their love story. And then as I watched, like a magical slideshow; the picture changed. It showed how they grew and changed as a couple over the years. Through arguments and good times. Laughter and heartbreak. Always by each other’s side.

Then it returned to them coming to this house again. The cycle was complete. Their eyes were now on me.

They were saying thanks for bringing them back here.

I listened as they began to recite their vows to one another. It was a lovely sentiment that is too private and powerful to recount here.

But the house was transforming around me as they talked. Returning to its splendor. It had drawn them in and made them fall in love and now as a parting gift, I understood the house was allowing them to renew that love. To relive that life they had.

It was a beautiful life to have, to relearn love over and over and always be happy and never worry about what the next tomorrow would bring. A perfect renewal of their story.

The picture returned to its original pose and the house faded into its dark and abandoned state again and I realized it was time for me to go.

My friends weren’t as trapped as I had thought. They had come to do exactly as they intended and the forces that were at work here offered a gift.

I envied this cycle of love they now got to experience. And I closed the gate and bid them goodbye.

I can still hear them reciting those vows and getting the chance to experience all of those memories again. It makes me hopeful for all the couples out there that are struggling to find their own new love again.

Maybe we all can get the chance to be ghosts one day, blinding each other radiantly.

Or maybe they are the lucky ones.

Here’s to both of those happy endings and happy hauntings.

Rating: 8.33/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Kyle Harrison
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Kyle Harrison

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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