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I do believe in spooks… I do I do I do I do believe in spooks!

Here’s that ghost story I promised:

First off, you should know that my mother was nomadic in my earlier childhood. To get some idea of exactly how nomadic she was, I have lived in no less than twenty different homes (not including my dorm room in college) in my life and only four of them were in the last ten years, so imagine moving sixteen times in twenty years. Probably why I’m such a freak’. No stability.

When I was about nine or ten, my mother, Mo and I, lived in an older two-story brick house. We rented the bottom half and an older lady lived upstairs. The older lady moved out after awhile, to live with her daughter, so my mother rented the top half of the house too, so that my sister and I could each have our own rooms. My sister got what was the “living room” area of the upstairs apartment (it had once been the master bedroom, and I got the actual bedroom of the ‘apartment’). My room was really pretty with floral wallpaper and everything, very feminine. Across the room from the door, there was another door that lead into a very smallish room, with slanted ceilings (it was in the “gable” of the house) and a very small window. Off of this little room was a very little door that entered into a part of the attic.

I was pretty excited about the prospect of having my own room once again (we’d lived in so houses, and most of the time, I had my own room. Plus, Mo was a huge pain when she was five and was always trying to get me into trouble, which was stupid on her part because I would just pummel her for it.).

I even moved my desk in the little room so I would have an ‘office’ (to do whatever important business things that a nine-year-old would do, I suppose) but for some reason I named it “the nursery” even though I was older than that doll age and there was little physical evidence of the room ever being used as such. It was always extremely cold in there and after a month, I moved my desk back into the main room. It actually bothered me, having anything of mine, anything associated with me in that room. I was also extremely uneasy about having that door open, and I would even prop things up against it, because sometimes, even though it had a pretty good latch, it would open by itself in the middle of the night.

Getting scared yet? You should.

Picture my room: you enter the room from the corner of one wall. On that same wall is the closet. On the wall directly opposite the entry door, the door into the ‘nursery’. On the fourth wall, a set of double windows on the side of the house (the streetlight at night shown through the windows onto the wall which from the entrance to the door to the nursery).

I had this thing when I slept: I couldn’t sleep with my back to an opening because something could come up and get me when my back was turned. I always put my bed so that it was up against one wall. The only way I could place the bed and NOT have my back to the nursery AND the closet (because spooky things come out of closets too, you know) was to place it against the far wall, leaving the door to the nursery at the foot of my bed. This is the logic of a nine-year-old.

Then, I specifically remember one night; I woke up and saw something. I thought my mother was in the room. Standing in front of the door to the ‘nursery’, at my feet, was an adult shape, but it was all shadows. I think that I covered my head and tried to go back to sleep, because, as you all know, your average twin-sized comforter is a ghost and monster repellant. Another time, when I was sick and feverish, I woke up and the shape was back. I had been extremely thirsty and wanted to call out to my mom to get me a drink of water, but I couldn’t summon the energy to call to her.

I got the distinct impression that I had called out to my mom in my head, and the figure was answering the call. I sat up a little bit, to see if it was shadows from the window or something, but the figure remained. Then I let out a bloody scream for my mom and the figure rushed across the room to the door leading into the hall. It passed directly through the light coming off of the street, and it was definitely a solid black or shrouded figure. I got the impression that it was a sad lady somehow, although I have no idea where I got that impression.

I never told my mom because I didn’t think that she would believe me. Then, after a few more months, my mom moved us back downstairs because she could no longer afford the rent for the upstairs. We moved again after another year.

The strange thing about this, which makes me think that it wasn’t just a nine-year-old’s active imagination is that about I was talking about ghosts one night with my mom back in 1993, fourteen years after we moved from that house. I was talking about ghosts and faces that you see out of the corner of your eye. I had just watched Sightings or something and there was a psychic on saying that when you see a very realistic face out of the corner of your eye but when you look, there’s nothing there, it’s most likely a ghost.

I kept saying, “Haven’t you ever done that? Thought you saw someone?” and she kept saying “No, never.”

After I let the subject drop, she brought it up again.

She said, “Actually, remember the brick house on Shawano? Remember when you girls were sleeping in that upstairs part? I went up there one day when you were in school to pick up dirty towels and I was standing by your closet, looking out the window when I just got this funny feeling in my stomach. Then I thought I saw a woman standing there looking at me, but when I turned my head she was gone. It was over by that little cold room in the front of the house. Remember that room?”

I had never told her about the incident and we had lived in so many different houses, so there was no reason for her to just pick that house at random. Very spooky, huh?

There’s actually an epilogue to this story: a year ago, that house went up for sale. It had been actually a beautiful house: hard wood floors throughout, original Victorian marble fireplace, mosaic Italianate tile floor in the first floor bathroom, four bedrooms total, etc’but it was in a lousy neighborhood and on a busy street. There was a sign that advertised an ‘Open House For Sale By Owner’, so I went one day. No one there. I sat out in my car waiting for a good half hour, being creeped out by the house in general and then finally called the phone number on the sign. The guy wasn’t going to make the Open House and I think the fact that someone was interested in touring the house surprised him.

Feeling let down, I wandered around the house, looking in the windows. The kitchen still bore my mother’s 1980’s experimental light blue and white painted cupboards, but the rest of the house was different. They had removed the great chandelier in the entryway. Our downstairs bedroom (which Mo and I had shared) was now garishly painted, although the closet still contained my mother’s addition of a low bar for Mo’s clothing.

Amazingly, the steps to the upstairs apartment were the same stairs. This was surprising because they had been pretty rickety when we lived there. Now they were positively life threatening. I looked up to the door and noticed it was open’. Not just unlocked, actually open.

I couldn’t resist. I carefully ascended the creaking wooden stairs and stood before the door to the apartment. The second I touched the doorknob; I heard the voices of little girls playing. Now, this is a classic cinematic trick, to give sound effects to show that the character is remembering’ sort of an audio-flashback, but it wasn’t imagined. Either I was hearing voices of neighborhood children playing close by OR it was ethereal voices of something else. I got the biggest goose pimples I’ve ever gotten in my life, especially because it was daylight, a crisp autumn Sunday afternoon and that house still scared the shit out of me. It was almost as if it were saying, ‘I remember you’ even though I’m empty, I’m still here.’

I ventured inside. The interior was in a shambles. The little kitchen of the apartment was disgusting’ the former tenants had apparently just left the garbage when they moved out. The cupboards smelled like mice. Mo’s bedroom was still the same’ same lighting fixtures, same everything. What had been my bedroom was changed’ they had ripped down the wallpaper in that room, although a few shards remained in that scary closet.

The nursery’ now the nursery was changed. They had replaced the doorknob, probably in attempt to stop the door from opening on its own, I have to imagine. They had put some insulation in the little gable window, but it was still freezing in there. I don’t remember much else about it. I think I wigged out and booked down those rickety stairs as fast as my legs could take me.

A few weeks later, the house was gone. No, not sold, GONE. The church next door had purchased the land and apparently, they had donated the house to Habitat for Humanity. I think. It was very unnerving though, seeing a big empty space where that house once stood.

Even as a kid, I’ve always been pretty skeptical. I got in trouble when I was in third grade for asking, ‘If Adam and Eve were the only people in the world, and then Cain was sent out in the world and was scorned by all the other people’. What people? I thought Adam and Eve were the only people and Cain and Abel were their sons?’

So there it is. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t experienced it myself. So that’s why I believe in ghosts.

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