The Haunted Season
Some places speak distinctly. Certain dank gardens cry aloud for a murder; certain old houses demand to be haunted; certain coasts are set apart for shipwrecks.
Robert Louis Stevenson
‘Tis the season for blustery days & drizzly nights, chimney smoke & warm cider, & best of all, for everything spooky & mysterious.
Back when the kids were in public school, I got hooked on those true haunting shows. You know the ones—clips of real people telling about their spooky encounters intercut with recreations of their stories. I got in the habit of turning them on while I ate lunch . . . and scaring myself silly.
It’s an unfortunate fact that while I adore creepy stories, I’m also a giant weenie. I’d end up having to watch something funny to take my mind off of demons lurking in the closets.
Through all those episodes that I watched, though, I always had the same question: Why don’t these people MOVE? Like, immediately. Yes, I know moving is a huge pain & selling a house takes time & all that. But come on.
It would only take one instance of my bed levitating, or coming home to find all the cabinet doors open, or hearing growling coming from the closet in the middle of the night for me to pack up and flee. No, forget packing. I’d just flee. Don’t these people have family? Friends? Nearby hotels?
And don’t get me started on the creepy kids. Mine are lucky they never had imaginary friends, or they’d probably be residing at boarding schools right about now.
But the truth is, I’ve had a few spooky experiences of my
own . . .
No, I’ve never experienced anything quite so irrefutable as a levitating bed or a china-flinging poltergeist, but I do have a couple of unexplained experiences. Just enough to make me think hmm, maybe, but not quite enough to have me reaching for the holy water.
The Haunted Closet
When I was in college, I lived in a dorm for a couple of years. It was bare bones. Seriously. You kids today have no idea . . .
My dorm room didn’t have actual closets, just big wardrobe-style boxes built into the wall on either side of the door. They were completely open at the front, so most people hung shower curtains over them. I hung a multi-color beaded curtain. Don’t judge.
One afternoon (no, this didn’t even happen at night, sorry), I was lying on my bed reading. Alone, with the door closed.
We usually left our doors open so that we could all shout our running commentary on Days of Our Lives, but since I was reading, I must have wanted privacy. The windows were closed, too, and there was no fan running. No breeze of any kind.
I was deeply engrossed in my book when the bead curtain behind me rattled as if someone had run a hand across it. I turned to see the strings of beads still quivering.
I think I broke some sort of speed record crossing the room, yanking the door open, & leaping into the hall. After my heart crawled back down my throat, I propped the door open & forced myself to go back inside. I didn’t go back to the book I’d been reading, though.
It didn’t seem like the best moment to dive back into Pet Semetary.
My Sort-of-Haunted House
The house I’ve lived in for the past 13 years is a mid-century brick ranch. We’re only the second owners—the couple who built it after the war spent the rest of their lives in it.
The wife, I’m told, actually died in the house, & I’ve also been told that before we bought it, the house was rumored by locals to be haunted. How reliable those rumors are, I don’t know. What I do know is that while we’ve had a few odd things happen over the years, we’ve never seen or heard anything worthy of an episode of A Haunting.
Shortly after we moved in, I was standing in the hall, slightly bent over. I must have been vacuuming or something, that part is a little hazy. I do recall feeling a light smack on my . . . um, behind.
I turned to give my husband a smack in return, & saw him, through the living room window, standing in the front yard. I was completely alone in the house.
During that time, we were settling into the house & kept noticing a smell like hot wires in the doorway to our son’s room. It hovered just in the doorway at about waist height.
We had everyone from electricians to plumbers check it out, to no avail. Nothing abnormal ever turned up. One workman, on his way out the door, hesitantly asked if we’d ever considered calling a priest.
Not really the outcome I’d been hoping for.
We never did find the source of the smell. After a while, it just went away, & we got on with things.
Things That Go Bump In The Night
While those things were all a little strange, none of them was really frightening. Just strange & unexplained. The things that happen at night are somehow much more frightening.
One night, my husband & I were going to bed. It was late, the kids both asleep already. The dog of mischief was safely crated for the night, & the cat was out on his nightly prowl.
I was already in bed when my husband lay down and turned off the lamp. As soon as the light went out, we heard what sounded like booted feet walking down our wood-floored hall.
“What was that?” I hissed at him. He flipped the light back on & went to check. Kids still asleep, dog still crated, cat still outside. He checked all through the house & found nothing amiss.
I still haven’t quite gotten over that one.
Our other nighttime experience was not long after the first. This time, both kids were spending a week at my parents’ house. Again, the cat was outside and the dog was in his crate.
Just after our light went off, we heard the distinct sound of something metal falling and rolling on the hall floor. Kind of like the sound a BB might make if you dropped it onto a wood floor from a few feet high.
Again, my husband found no sign of anything out of the ordinary. Or anything on the hall floor.
The next day, I searched that hall floor with a flashlight & found nothing.
So there you have it. My entire supernatural experience, such as it is. While it may not get me cable TV fame, I’m just fine with that.
How about you? Do you have any ghost stories? I’d love to hear them! Meanwhile,
I’ll be over here trying not to think about ghosts in boots walking down my hall.