Creative Nonfiction Drama

The old house on the hill backed onto the local Cemetery. It had belonged to an elderly couple and when they moved to the nursing home, they left their tiny home vacant. The house was small, a story and a half. On the bottom floor was a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom. A narrow stairway led from the living room to the upper floor which consisted of two small bedrooms. When they heard their grandson James and his wife Darla and their 2 small children were looking for a place to live, they decided to offer the house to the young people.

My cousin Darla had asked me to babysit while she and James went to the early movie. My study partner Cheryl, came along with me because we were preparing for our Provincial exam the following day. As planned, Darla and James left for the early movie promising to be back shortly after 9. Both children were asleep and in their beds and I didn’t expect to have any problems. Jamie generally slept through the night and Lena would most likely be okay until they got home.

Cheryl and I were sitting at the kitchen table working on old exam papers in preparation for our exam when we heard footsteps on the second floor crossing from one bedroom to the next and then coming down the stairs. I leaned over to see into the living room and called out, “Jamie, you get back in your bed.” 

Suddenly realizing what I had said, I turned to Cheryl, “Jamie can’t get out of his crib.” The thought of some stranger in the house other than ourselves sent chills down my spine. When the footsteps began to go back upstairs I looked at Cheryl and said, “Come on, we’ll have to look to see if anyone is up there. I’ll be in trouble if anything happens to those children.”

Cheryl was just as frightened as I was. I took her hand as we walked step by step up the stairway. When we got to the top, nothing appeared to be amiss. Just to my right was a lone closet so I thrust my hand into the open area. All I could find were some clothes hanging from a rail. Crouching down, I looked under the bed but there was nothing there. We went into the smaller bedroom where both children were sound asleep. There was nothing in the bedroom except the two cribs, a single dresser and a change table, definitely no place for someone to hide so we headed back downstairs.

I thought that we should check outside to see if anyone could have gotten in through the upstairs windows. When Cheryl and I went out it was shortly after eight and there was plenty of light to see. There was nothing to indicate that someone tried to get in so we went back inside and started to study again.

It was shortly after 9 when we heard the car pull up into the driveway as Darla and James had arrived home. When they came in, I looked at my cousin and said, “Darla, I know you won’t believe me but I have to tell you something.” When Darla heard my story, she looked at me and smiled, “So, you’ve heard our ghost have you?”

You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was that surprised. She then started to tell me about her experiences with the ghost.

“Virginia was around a year old when we first heard the noises. We heard footsteps upstairs in the bedrooms when we were downstairs - actual walking, not soft or shuffling. In the beginning, the sound was contained to the upstairs rooms. After a time we started to hear the ghost walking downstairs from the bedrooms. Then the footsteps began to go down to the basement. 

One night James and I were in bed when we heard the ghost in the kids’ bedroom. A chill spread across the room as it moved towards our bed, stopping briefly and looked at us and then continued on down the stairs. These sounds were not heard all the time. There were frequent periods of quiet and no movement so we almost forgot about the ghost. Out of the blue one day, the sound of footsteps started again. We woke one night from a deep sleep and the thing, spirit, ghost, whatever one calls it, was beside the bed staring at us. I froze, the sensation was paralyzing. James jumped up from the bed and actually jumped the full length of the staircase, trying to tell the ghost to leave. The staircase was about ten steps and he almost fell going down the stairs. As time went by, the footsteps and the strange noises continued. This ghost did not seem to be evil or angry. I remember now that at times the ghost would walk out to the back porch. At other times the doors would open and close without anyone or anything touching them. Other times, I felt someone watching me, towering over me like a heavy cloud, paralyzing me with fear and I literally could not move. It felt like a heavy weight on my chest like someone trying to smother me.

We asked neighbours if they heard any strange sounds or happenings in their homes. They said that they never experienced anything like that and it was probably caused by heavy traffic or possibly strong winds. No one could give us a reasonable explanation for the sound of footsteps, the noise and now the cold sensations in the house. Only one person knew the truth but did not reveal it to us until much later.

Several years after we had moved away, I was walking past the old house when I stopped to chat to an elderly gentleman who lived across the street and this is what he said, “I’ve been on this street a good many years so I knew the couple who lived there long before your family bought it. They found the body of the man that lived in the house, hanging from a beam in the basement. Shortly after his death, the wife moved away and left the old house empty for many years until your grandparents bought it. To my knowledge, the ghost never appeared when your grandparents lived there. However, since you left the house, I’ve heard that the ghost walks around the house, opening and closing doors as if he still lived there.” 

When the old fellow finished his story, I thanked him. His story had given me some insight into why the ghost was so restless and what happened to the man that once lived there and his tragic end. 

This story is based on truth. Only the names of the people involved and the place names have been changed.

July 23, 2021 20:28

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