In the fall of 1999, I moved into my dream home. By then, our family had grown substantially. We had three girls and a two year-old boy. After living inside city limits for many years, it felt good to be back in the country. The two story
house had five bedrooms, an enormous living room, dining room, and
kitchen. The downstairs rooms had massive pocket doors that slid in
and out of the walls.
Directly in the middle of farmland, the nearest neighbor was a small church down the road. Every day at noon and 6pm the church chimes played. It was small piece of heaven.
One would think by then, I’d had enough experiences with ghosts to notice a house was haunted before we moved in. Honestly, I had a ‘feeling’ something was up. However, it wasn’t a bad feeling. In fact, it reminded me tremendously of my protector. So without any reservations whatsoever, we moved in.
We noticed things right away. Our ‘friends’ weren’t even remotely shy. The very first night, around one in the morning, my husband and I were just drifting off to sleep. A strange scraping noise, like wood rubbing together, floated up the
stairs. Both of us sat up in bed. We traded glances and headed for the stairs. Before we reached the stairs, we heard the door to the back porch open and shut.
My husband took off like a madman and I stayed close behind him. Of course there was no one there when we arrived, and the back door that we’d distinctly heard shut stood wide open. He went outside and wandered around the exterior of the house for a bit. Finding nothing at all, he returned. We locked the door, laughed a bit about the strangeness of it, and went back to bed.
The next morning, I awoke and headed down to make coffee. As soon as I entered the kitchen, I stopped short. Once again, the back door stood wide open. Confused, and a little rattled, I checked the downstairs rooms before going outside. No one was anywhere to be found.
By the time my husband had made his way to the kitchen, the coffee was ready, and the door shut. I stayed pretty quiet that morning. And although he could tell something was wrong, he didn’t press me. He’d learned several years before to leave me (and my meditative states) alone.
After the kids were dressed and off to school, I did some investigating. I locked the back door and went to the living room. Other than the sounds of the wind chimes I’d hung across the front porch, it remained completely silent. For
nearly an hour I waited and listened. Absolutely nothing happened. Feeling foolish, but still certain something out of the ordinary had occurred; I went about unpacking and putting things away.
Late that night, after the kids were in bed and asleep, we heard the scraping noise again. My husband started to get out of bed, but I stopped him. Shaking my head, I put a finger to my mouth before pointing to my ear.
He cocked his head to the side and gave me a “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding look.” I returned his expression with my best “shut-up-and-listen-to-me glare.”
The soft pad of footfalls headed up the stairs. Slowly, as if taking one step at a time, the footsteps reached the top and moved towards our bedroom. With the hall light on and the door open, we had a good view of the entire foyer. What our eyes saw, didn’t process with what our ears heard. There was absolutely nothing there. The footsteps came right up to our door and just stopped.
One eyebrow pulled up as he said, “Okay?”
I smiled. “I knew we weren’t alone here. I just had this feeling…”
His eyes rolled and he shook his head. “Don’t start that crap again. We are not moving.”
Laughing, I answered, “Of course we’re not moving. Don’t be ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with this house.
As the days passed, the nightly sliding of the pocket doors and the footsteps on the stairs continued. Occasionally the back door would be open in the morning, but thankfully, as fall moved into winter, that rarely happened.
However, it wasn’t all sweet and roses. The two oldest children refused to go upstairs unless I was with them. Even if all four were up there together, they couldn’t stay up there long. I was slightly concerned, but they weren’t telling me ‘ghost’ stories, so I let it go. In December of that year, my next-oldest child saw the first apparition.
A loud scream followed by, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” jolted me from a deep sleep. I recognized Miranda’s voice instantly and headed to her room. As soon as the light was switched on, she bolted out of her bed and wrapped her arms around me. Tears poured from her eyes as she sputtered between sobs and tried to tell me what had happened.
Nearly a half hour later, she’d finally calmed enough to give me details. She’d been asleep, but a strange noise woke her. Her eyes snapped open and across the room from her in the wingback chair, an old woman sat watching a small boy play with a train. Her description of both the woman and the boy were extremely vivid. She said the boy was about Samantha’s size (My youngest daughter), and wore striped pajamas with a blue plaid robe over them. He had dark hair and was extremely pale.
The woman wore her hair in a bun and had a long old-timey dress on. At first she was just shocked, but when the woman looked away from the boy to glare at her, it terrified her. She opened her mouth to scream for me, and the lady bent forward and raised her finger to her lips. At that point she screamed her head off, and I had come running.
The poor darling was so badly shaken she ended up sleeping with us that night. From that point on, she refused to sleep alone. I had no choice but to move her in with her older sister.
It wasn’t long after that I saw my first apparition in the house. My experience was completely different, and the way it came about coupled with the small event from earlier that day, leads me to believe the ghost I saw had nothing to do with the house per say. I believe that particular ghost was attached to a thing instead of a place.
The kids had left for school and I’d decided to do some digging around. There were two attics in the house. One was a walk in attached to my bedroom, and the other could be entered through a small door in the upstairs closet. Both were absolutely full. Being the nosey person I was, I decided to rummage around and see what sort of trinkets had been left behind from previous tenants.
Coffee in hand, I entered the attic attached to my bedroom. Neatly stacked boxes covered the floor making it difficult to maneuver. So I started with the boxes closest to the door and worked my way back. Most were filled with junk. Old newspapers, magazines, left over door knobs and brick-a-brack. Those went to the side. Several boxes contained moth or mouse eaten children’s clothing. Those went right out to the burning barrel.
About midway through the small room, I’d just moved a stack of boxes and noticed the back of a rather large picture. I turned it around and let out a gasp.
A young girl, who looked about Samantha’s age, stared back at me with the saddest blue eyes I’d ever seen. She had long light blond corkscrew curls and was dressed in a knee length blue winter coat that matched her eye color exactly. Her tiny pink lips were pulled up in a pout. It was adorable and I loved it. It was easy to see it was hand painted and the canvas looked old, but the frame was gold plastic with large ornate scrolling prevalent in the 70s. It didn’t seem to fit with the look or age of the painting.
I took it downstairs and got to work on it right away. After removing the canvas from the frame, I used the softest cloth I could find and meticulously ran it over every inch of the painting. It took at least an hour and four cloth diapers to bring it back to its original sheen. Then I got to work on the frame. After dusting and scrubbing, the plastic frame still looked like cheap gold plastic. That would not do for this gorgeous piece of art. So I sanded it a bit and carefully spray painted it black.
After the paint dried and the two pieces had been fitted back together, I hung it on a wall in the upstairs hallway. I was terribly proud of how well it turned out. The now black frame looked like old wrought iron. I couldn’t wait to do some research and find out how old the painting really was.
Unfortunately, the children and my husband weren’t nearly as thrilled with my find. All of them said it creeped them out. A little bummed at their less and desired reactions, I insisted the blue girl (as I’d dubbed it) would remain in the upstairs hallway.
That night, after the usual complaints about not wanting to sleep upstairs, I finally fell asleep. Sometime in the middle of the night I felt a finger poking my shoulder. I was so tired, I didn’t even bother to open my eyes. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Mommy.” Recognizing Samantha’s voice, yet still unable to force my eyes open, I repeated, “What’s wrong, baby?” The poking began again. Three distinct pokes to my shoulder. Each punctuated with, “Mommy!” My eyes snapped open. “What in the world do you--” Befuddled, confused, and wondering if I was even awake, I stared into the blue eyes of the girl from the painting. It lasted mere seconds before she completely dissolved. I jumped out of bed and looked around the room. I must have been half asleep. I had to have been dreaming. Slowly making my way across the hall, I tiptoed into Samantha’s room to see if she was still asleep. Maybe it was her, and I was so out of it I just thought I saw the painting girl.
Curled on her side, her eyes moved back and forth behind her lids. Rem sleep. There was no way she’d been in my room. As I made my way back to my bed, I stopped in front of the picture. “Was that you?” I asked. “Did you come for a visit?” Laughing at myself for being such a goofball, I returned to bed and went right to sleep.
My little visitor didn’t bother me again that night, but somehow--and I wonder now if it wasn’t the care of her painting that brought it on--she’d attached to me. From that point on, I saw her nearly every day. Not full on, like the first time. Here and there I’d catch a glimpse of blonde streak across my peripheral vision. Sometimes, when the house was completely empty, I’d hear her softly call out, “Mommy?” Over the years we lived there, I’d taken to speaking to her outright.
At times I’d catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye and soon after hear a soft twinkle of laughter as if she were playing hide and seek. Sometimes I’d play along, and other times I’d say, “Not right now, dear. I’m busy. Wait till the children come home.” Of course it all sounds rather crazy now, but I enjoyed it.
At one point I invited a gifted psychic to visit. She walked in and smiled, saying, “This house is brimming with supernatural life.”
I smiled and nodded. “Pretty cool, huh?”
“It doesn’t bother you,” she asked.
Shaking my head, my smile grew wider. “They feel like family.”
She closed her eyes and was silent for a moment before speaking. “You feel like family to them too.”
There were numerous little things that happened in that house. Disembodied whispers, the sound of a child’s laughter and scampering feet, the heavier footsteps on the stairs, and doors that opened and closed of their own accord.
Now that my children are grown, they still think of that house as home. And even though they were afraid of it when they were small, all of them would jump at the chance to move back there.
Ten years have passed since we moved to
. To this day I have no idea what happened to my beloved picture of my sad little adopted ghost. Somehow it never made here with the rest of our stuff. I smile a bit when I think about it. Maybe the movers lost it, or maybe she just wanted to stay there. Arkansas
Someday I hope to live in that house again. And hopefully, stuck behind some old boxes, or hidden in one of the closets, I’ll find the Blue Girl again. With a little luck, she’ll find me too.
Other Willow Cross books
The Dark Gifts: Birthright
The Dark Gifts: Inheritance
Oceans of Red volume one