The Formal Dining Room [Fiction]

in The Ink Well3 months ago (edited)

Photo by Rachel Claire

A hide-and-seek game marked a turning point in young Ethan Loughty's life that afternoon. He just did not know it.

He found his friend, James, in the garden. Both boys screamed and James gave chase. The noise deepened the scowl on Alfred Loughty's face who was in a meeting with other Loughty men in the library.

"One moment, gentlemen. I'll be right back," Alfred said and walked out in search of the boisterous boys.

Ethan ran upstairs to the formal dining room, turned the knob and the door opened slowly. He was surprised. In all of his five years at the Loughty stately mansion, he had never been inside the formal dining room. It was always locked.

Curious, he crept in, his friend and their game forgotten.

The room was dark but his young, healthy eyes could make out a long dining table in the centre with chairs tucked to the side of the table. A beautiful crystal chandelier, like the one in the dining room downstairs where they usually ate, loomed over the dining table.

The damask curtains were drawn closed. The room smelled stuffy…

A glow at the far end of the room, right under a small buffet table, caught his eye. Ethan quickly went on all fours under the dining table to get a good look. The flooring was marble but the glow peeked out from underneath a square and smooth floorboard.

A floorboard in the dining room? Where did it lead to? Ethan's young mind wondered when a heavy presence filled the stuffy room. He saw two legs from under the table and recognised the shiny, expensive shoes. He was in trouble.

"What are you doing inside here?" His father, Alfred Loughty, scowled at him as he crawled out. "Have I not warned that this room is out of bounds?"

Ethan gazed at his father with doe-eyed innocence that slowly turned into an endearing smile. Alfred grabbed his son by the forearm and pulled him out of the room. "Downstairs, now! And don't ever let me see you in here again. Understood?"

"Yes, Dad," Ethan replied and ran like a flash.

Alfred Loughty was a man who commanded attention and fear from everyone around him and Ethan was not ready to get on his bad side. So he stayed away from the mysterious dining room…until he turned twenty-one.

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The Loughty mansion was busy with preparations for my son's twenty-first birthday, a significant event where he must demonstrate his readiness to take the reins of the family business.

My family had a legacy to protect and being able to do so required appearing tough and serious. This was my usual demeanour but today, a deep sorrow threatened to overwhelm me.

I remembered when I turned twenty-one, I did what was expected of me without question. When I was initiated into the family secret that had existed for many generations, my father knew I had what it takes to embrace the darkness and carry on our legacy.

I had no heart until Ethan was born. My son was different. He had more of his mother in him —easygoing, witty and emotional. Could he accept the family secret and remain himself?

In the Loughty family, you must be tough to see the source of our family's ancestral secret and accept it. If found to be softhearted and you see our secret, you lose yourself so that the family legacy does not fall apart.

I hoped Ethan would be strong for today or else I could lose him. And that would be the end of the fun-loving boy I raised and taught to ride a bike, among other shared activities.

I stood by the window of my private study and watched as two black Bentleys drove through the wrought iron gate and packed beside the fountain in front of the mansion. My father, uncle and two cousins stepped out of the cars, dressed in a black tuxedo and a red bow tie. That was the customary dressing for the party.

I went downstairs to welcome them. My father and uncle stepped forward. "Is he ready?" My father asked, his voice dark and foreboding. His dark, deep-set eyes drilled into me, gauging my readiness. My uncle smirked at me.

"Yes, I believe so. This way, sirs," I said, leading the way upstairs. Getting to the third floor of the mansion, Ethan came out of one of the rooms dressed in an Armani classic tuxedo without a vest, a black bow tied at his neck, and a flute of champagne in one hand.

"Uncle. Grandfather," he greeted the stern-looking men. My father took the flute from him and placed it on a vintage mahogany table beside the door.

"You don't need that until after your return from the dining room," he said. Ethan glanced at me to say something but I motioned for him to walk ahead of me into the formal dining room.

His Adam's apple bobbed, revealing his anxiety and my heart dropped.

"Can you handle this?" My father asked, his hand resting on my shoulder. The weight of his hand made what I was about to do heavier. I nodded and went in after Ethan, shutting the door behind us. My father and uncle waited outside.

The curtains were drawn closed as usual. The amber glow from the crystal chandelier dimly lit up the cold, dark dining room. Two flickering, five-arm candelabras were placed on the table. The red rug laced with gold colour added to the mystery of the formal dining room which was reserved for the occasion of the Loughty men's initiation birthday.

I shuddered as memories of my twenty-first birthday flooded my head. The walls held secrets that only Loughty men knew about.

"D-Dad?" Ethan stuttered, his eyes wide and anxious staring at me. "What's going on? You warned me never to come in here."

The secret was never revealed. It must be seen and accepted.

I sighed and touched his shoulder. "You are a Loughty. If you want to continue as such and be a part of the family business, you must know how we operate and where our wealth comes from."

Ethan furrowed his brows, trying to digest everything I'd said at that moment when the single and unusually smooth floorboard beneath the buffet table at the far end of the room began to glow.

"It's your turn now. Go and see for yourself. I'll be here waiting," I said.

The bright glow from beneath the floorboard had gotten his attention. Ethan stepped closer when the floorboard creaked open like it was remote controlled. The light brightened the dining room.

A bony, withered hand snaked out from the space below, shocking Ethan. "Dad?" He called and while turning to look at me, the hand grabbed his ankle and pulled in one swift motion, drawing him into the space below. The floorboard creaked shut, throwing the dining room into a dark space.

I squeezed my eyes shut and cried inwardly. I whispered, "Ethan, be strong. If I can, so can you…"

"Dad?" I snapped my eyes open at the sound.

Ethan stood before me with a smirk that mocked me. He looked different —cold and confident—the warmth and wit were gone.

My heart lurched with sadness.

His eyes. They were no longer blue and soft. They were a mix of faint green and red with slit-shaped pupils, like a reptile's. He winked at me before his pupils adjusted to look like a human's but the strange colour remained.

My Ethan was gone. Forever.


The way you build tension with this piece is masterful. We’re just dying to know what the glow under the floorboard is. Apart from the engrossing suspense you embroider the scene with such detail that you seem to “sew” it onto our consciousness;quite brilliant technique. The final line takes us by surprise and resolves the piece with subtle, though devastating, “punch”.

Your feedback on my stories are always thoughtful and encouraging. Thank you so much for your support. 🙂

Hi @kemmyb, your post has been upvoted by @bdcommunity courtesy of @rem-steem!

Support us by voting as a Hive Witness and/or by delegating HIVE POWER.


Many thanks @rem-steem and @bdcommunity for your support. Keep up the great work!

A sad end for Ethan who was not strong enough to be inducted into the Loughty way so he can take up the family's business. A nice story.

Quite a sad end! If only he was as strong as his father, he would have come back still himself.

Thank you so much, @fonpet for reading. I'm happy you got the ending. I was not sure my readers would. 😊 !LUV

Okay, their family's secret was really something else. I didn't expect that the floor board in their dining room hid such a secret. That ending though...

That ending though...

I know, right! Hehe. Beware of the secrets of the Loughty family. 😅 Thanks a lot for reading and for this feedback. !PIZZA

I liked the way this story started and showed us what is beneath the floorboard. The old Ethan is gone now for sure!

Thanks for sharing

The old Ethan is gone now for sure!

Yes he is, and replaced by something otherworldly! Thank you so much for reading and for this nice comment. !LUV

This story is so nice...Ethan though💔

Heartbreaking, right? Thanks so much for reading. !PIZZA 🙂

It's an interesting and good mystery story. I enjoyed Ethan's story

Thank you so much. I'm happy you enjoyed the story. 🙂 !PIZZA

This story is intriguing and suspenseful. It's just so sad that Ethan was not strong enough to part of the Loughty family. The secret must be a tough one for Ethan.

Indeed the secret was a tough one for Ethan to handle. Thanks a lot for your kind feedback. 🙂 !LADY

The pleasure is mine dear friend. Have a nice day today.

Ahhh, a test of courage and ability, seems Ethan passed despite Alfred's wishes...
A really enthralling story @kemmyb ❤️✨🔥

Indeed it was a test of courage. Sadly, Ethan was not as courageous. He did not pass o. 😅 He went inside the floorboard himself but something else came back as Ethan.

Thank you for kind comment. 🙂 !PIZZA

Na mess up😂😂😂

Bang, I did it again... I just rehived your post!
Week 147 of my contest just can now check the winners of the previous week!

Thank you


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