Thursday, February 01, 2007

From the Beginning

I was standing in the kitchen, close to the stove. The kitchen was small, so I was actually close to everything, but closest to the stove. The woman and her boy were in the doorway. They had boxes in their hands.

"Hold on. What are you doing here?" I asked.

"These are our things," she replied. "We have to put them away." The boy continued into the front room, ignoring me.

The woman was wearing a shirtwaist dress, faded but clean. Her ash blonde hair was pulled into a loose knot at the nape of her neck, and stray tendrils floated around her face. She was pretty, but haggard, a Dorothea Lange photograph brought to life, standing in my kitchen.

"This is my house. We bought this house. We're the ones moving in." Our house isn't very big. I remember thinking that I had to stop her boy from putting anything down because we needed the space left clear to unload the moving van.

"Hmm." She straightened her back and walked into the other room. As I watched them work, the woman and the boy, I started to see that there was something wrong about them. Sure, any time someone is moving into your house without your permission, while you're standing in front of them, telling them to stop, that's wrong. That's not what I mean.

Their clothes were wrong, the shirtwaist and the boy's dungarees. They weren't playing dress-up in vintage store finds; they lived in those clothes. The way they spoke to each other, the way they moved, all wrong. We've become such a fast culture. We walk quickly, we speak quickly. We rush. These two were measured, deliberate. These two were slower. Not simpler, not less intelligent, just in less of a hurry.

The lighting in our house was horrible in those days. When we moved in, only half of the light fixtures worked, and they weren't more than 40 watts each. Every room was dark, barely lit by dim bulbs behind dirty glass shades. Everything was yellow. Not her, though. She and the boy were pale, as though they'd been desaturated, lit by a different source. I stared at her, fascinated by this.

She wasn't paying as much attention to me. She was scrutinizing the wallpaper, displeased by the strawberry vine pattern winding its way around the window.

"Look, I don't mean to be harsh, but this is my house. We were the high bidders. I'm sorry nobody told you, but really. You can't stay."

She turned toward me, box of cast-iron skillets still in her hand. Her eyes were hard. Her voice was mild and patient, but firm. "Nevertheless, we are here."

It was at that point, finally, that I realized that she was a ghost. It was also at that point, also finally, that I woke up. I sat up in bed and looked out the window.

The boy was standing on my porch roof, staring off into the distance. He turned as though he'd heard me awaken. We stared at each other for a minute, the pale young man bathed in moonlight and I. Then he turned away again, seemingly lost in his thoughts as he gazed down the road. If this was a second dream, I do not remember awakening from it.

My house was built in 1953. We bought it in 1999. My house is haunted.


Jo said...

I'm not surprised - have you felt anything like that in the house before? When I was about 10 years old I was sitting on my Gram's back porch and I saw someone walking through her nut tree orchard. This, in itself, was rather odd - but then the man walked in front of one of the trees and I realized I could see the tree through him.

LadyLungDoc said...

Oooh - that's creepy!

Batty said...

That's creepy! But as long as you feel safe in the house, it shouldn't be a problem.

turtlegirl76 said...

I got chills reading that. Wow. How creepy!