October is here! The days are getting shorter and there’s a nip in the air that says winter is on its way. We haven’t had to turn our heat on yet but we do have a fire in the fireplace as I write this. This time of year always makes me want to curl up with a good spooky book or watch old horror movies. Because I’m in a Halloween state of mind and because I love hearing other people’s ghosts stories, here’s one of my own.
Years ago, my husband and I rented a house in a small town in Iowa. It wasn’t particularly old. To give you an idea, it was a split foyer with orange shag carpeting in the living room that I suspect was original to the house. But the rooms were huge and we had a four year old at the time with a bunch of toys. The extra bedroom downstairs off the family room meant she could have a playroom. I had a desk in the family room. At the time I was writing a story about a feisty young woman and the noble-born pirate who washed up on the beach outside her family’s ancestral estate. (Probably for the best I don’t know where that one went.) But I spent a good bit of time downstairs.
Every once in awhile I’d feel this slight breeze go by. Faint. But it would always make me look up. It was the same breeze Kate made when she ran down the hallway. A few times, I was so sure she’d passed by that I got up to see what she was up to.
I also noticed that our cat, who liked to hang out with me at the desk, would track movement down that hallway whenever I felt the breeze. Creepy, but not too creepy. We stayed there a year and when the lease was up, we moved out. When my husband and I were getting ready to pull out of the driveway that last time, I said, “I’m happy we’re leaving this place. I always thought it was haunted.”
His eyes got really wide. We’d never discussed it before. After all, phantom breezes and a cat that stares at weird spots really isn’t a lot to get spooked about. But then my husband described the same sort of experiences I’d had. Thinking Kate had just run by when she was upstairs sleeping. Thinking Kate was playing in the playroom when she was watching TV. That breeze in the hallway. How we never used the bathroom at the end of the hall.
A year later, we were at the party of a friend of ours who lived in that small town. A group of college kids had moved into our old rental and one of them was at the party. He shocked the heck out of us by asking if we’d ever thought the house was haunted. The same thing – a child, that hallway, no one wanted the downstairs bedroom. They were thinking about moving out.
And our daughter, four at the time, had an imaginary friend named Amy. Not unusual. But she never once mentioned Amy again after we moved out of the house.
What’s your ghost story?