My grandmother had a Victorian house in a small coastal town in Massachusetts my whole childhood. She was old and needed to downsize by the early 1980s, and had been almost a hoarder all her life, so she needed a lot of help to pack up, sell a lot, and then move in with my aunt in the next town, so we all traveled every other weekend or so to help out for many months leading up to that moving day when I was around eight.
My grandfather, a bitter, abusive old man according to all who knew him, had died before I was born. In that house. And I could feel him lurking all the time. Phones would ring and no one would be on the other line. Too many shadows would move in too many strange ways in any given room in the middle of the day. The stairs caused everyone to stop and stare up them in apprehension before climbing, the creepiness of them unmistakeable.
I had to sleep in that house. Play in that house. And those feelings were never far away.
Then one day, it got even weirder.
One weekend we were down there, mom and dad and other family members were out working in the garage, packing up yet more piles of boxes, while I played with my dolls in the living room (off the dining room and around the corner from the kitchen). The afternoon wore on as I heard mom or dad or whoever came in and out the back door with boxes; I played and watched tv, just fine as long as I knew they’d be in soon, and they had to be, it was getting... dark.
Then I relaxed, because I heard mom, my aunt, and grandma come in, chattering as they shuffled around in the kitchen. I heard the teakettle whistle, cups clink, chairs slide out from underneath the table, and more female chatter as spoons swirled in the cups. Mom and grandma did always love their tea.
The table was full of mail and boxes and... grandma’s stuff was everywhere... and we never ate in the kitchen.
I froze, and after long minutes of dread, knowing I’d have to go through the kitchen to get out the back door and find my parents, I clenched my jaw, made my way in trembling legs to the doorway between the living and dining rooms, and paused to listen to those voices in the kitchen.
They’d faded... I could now barely hear their words. I sighed and ran for the kitchen doorway.
Totally dark! No mom, no grandma or aunt, no tea. I ran screaming out the back door and straight to my parents who were, indeed, still all in the garage, finishing up the day’s work.
- Stephanie S. (leatherandjade) 👻