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Categories: writing, college, road, cemetery, man
The summer after my freshman year in college (I was nineteen) my parents asked me to live in the house that had belonged to my grandparents, both of whom died in the home. This house was on Courtner Street. They wanted someone on the premises to make sure the home was secure and to help them keep it organized as they began sorting through my grandparents' belongings. I said yes, thinking it would be a taste of freedom. I had been to the house many times, staying with my grandma, doing art projects, and cooking food. The home never felt ''bad'', even though some of my friends said that they ''saw an old man'' while visiting me. I just assumed it was an imprint of my grandpa who had lived in the house for fifty years, or something, because the home always felt ''homey. '' But from the moment I moved in, there was an almost oppressive feeling. I thought at first that I was just grieving the loss of my grandma, but then things began to happen.
One by one, every appliance (including plumbing fixture and telephone) began to malfunction in ways that baffled the repair people I was constantly calling. The light fixture above the table swung continuously. The television turned itself on and off. Black sewage spewed out of the sink and tub. You name it, it happened, even to the point of the landline phone refusing to function. It crackled, and you could hear something like voices trying to talk, but no dial tone. I traded handsets, but it still would not work. The repair man, who inspected the phone line for the house, and then the whole neighborhood, told me he had no idea why it would not work, and said that I should consider getting a cell. Even that would not work in the house, but step out the door and magically it was fine. I began to feel increasingly hounded and isolated. Every time I would buy food, the fridge (brand new) would break down and the food would rot. Objects would go missing only to turn up right where I had already looked, as if placed there to insult me. My computer monitor shorted out so that I could not use it to study or write. Even the shower and clothes washers began to spew sewage, in spite of the fact that the plumbers had stuck cameras all the way down the entire main. None of these things had ever happened while my grandmother was alive.
I began to only feel safe on the front porch or out with my friends (who refused to come to the house because of the things that happened while they were there: lights flashing, TV turning on, etc). But I could not leave, because I have a visual impairment. I am legally blind (no central vision) and am not allowed to drive, so for me, there was no way out unless someone came and got me. One night while getting ready to go out and stay out, I went into my grandmother's room to retrieve my clothes from her closet where they were being kept (I did not sleep in the room. It was used as storage). I opened the door, trying to find the light switch, but realized that the switch was actually on the other side of the door. As I reached over to flip it, the lamp across the room turned on. At first I thought that I must have accidentally touched the switch, but then realized that the lamp was not even attached to that circuit. The lamp was a touch lamp, plugged into the wall. There was only one way to turn it on, and that was to walk ten feet and touch it. I immediately called my stepdad who was a minister. I asked him what I should do since he had often told me to ''have faith. '' He laughed at me. He said that grandma would not haunt the house because she had gone to heaven. I said that if that was true, who turned on the lamp? He told me that he had no idea. He said maybe they (my grandparents) were checking on me, and said that I should say thank you. So I went into the room and said thank you, but I felt strange as if they wanted some other kind of reaction and were waiting. To me, whatever turned the light on did it to scare me, not to help me. After that, I could not sleep in the home. I would hear strange noises and see things out of the corner of my eye. My radio would turn to static channels of its own accord. I felt like I was being attacked.
My parents would not listen to me. My stepdad believed that it was all in my head, even though he was a minister. I think he just could not handle the idea that his parents were haunting the house or that anything bad could have moved in when they left. He told me I needed medication, not prayer. But I was not the only person seeing things. Finally, the last night I was there, I was lying awake on the sofa, counting the hours until I could leave. Then there was a bang so forceful on the wall above my head that a painting hanging there shook. I jumped up, wondering what was happening. That wall was shared with my grandparents' bedroom and was right above the headboard of their bed. Then there were more bangs, huge bangs like boxes being thrown around the room. I went to the door and listened, and it sounded like people just throwing things all over the place. Afraid I was being robbed; I ran out to the front porch and called 911. The operator told me to stay in the house, and to go someplace safe, but I did not feel safe anywhere, so I got a knife and stood in the hall, prepared to stab anything that came through the door. The banging was so loud even the operator could hear it. The door shook as things hit it. Finally the police came to the back door. They inspected the house, and when they had finished they showed me the room, and that nothing had moved. Not a single thing. They looked at me like I was nuts, and told me that they had ''seen a cat run across the yard. Maybe you have cats in the walls''. Cats, in my walls! I took a blanket out to the porch and sat on a bench until the sun came up, waiting for my parents to come get me.
A week later, I got an email from my ex neighbor. He asked me how I was and then said ''I am not sure how you feel about stuff like this, but I feel like I am supposed to tell you, since your dad will not listen to me. '' He then proceeded to tell me that a couple days after I left, he and several other neighbors from other houses heard what they thought was screaming, banging like things being thrown, and saw lights going on and off inside the house. They called the police, and the police called my parents, who came out to the property. When they checked the house, everything was locked and nothing disturbed. This happened twice that week. Then finally, the thing that made my neighbor email me was that he had gone down to get his mail. He and the mailman were standing at the end of the walk, where they had a good view of my house, just chatting. The mailman asked my neighbor ''who's living in the house now?'' He knew that my grandma had lived there since the 1940s. My neighbor said ''well, their granddaughter just went back to school. '' The mailman interrupted him to say ''no, I mean who's there now?'' When my neighbor said that he did not believe anyone was living in the house, the mailman got very annoyed and said ''then who is that?'' He pointed to the picture window of the upstairs room. My neighbor looked but saw nothing, but the mailman insisted that there was a man standing there.
I told my neighbor not to bother my parents because they did not believe anything was wrong. I told him to just tell everyone on the block that if the house was being robbed, let it be robbed. It was insured, and none of my grandma's things were there anymore anyway. If the ghost wanted attention, they should just ignore it. He told me he would do that. Several more times the house had seemed to be invaded, and each time my neighbors would just call my dad and tell him that they were calling the police if he did not take them seriously. My dad called and asked me if I had ''given out the key. '' There had only ever been one key, and I never copied or hid it. I told him that the house was haunted, and that I did not want to ever set foot in it again, and that if he had sense, he would get rid of it. The house was sold very quickly thereafter, even though it was the home he grew up in. I do not know what happened there, but I do feel like it was somehow focused on me.
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