Ghost Story

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year: the weather finally has a chill in the air, football is in full swing, Hallow’s End, and of course, all of the spooky stories and TV shows. In this modern age, we can really watch ghost stories on TV anytime, but I remember as a kid how exciting Halloween TV was–the ghost special of Unsolved Mysteries? YES! Tree House of Horror? YES, PLEASE! Halloween I and Halloween II back to back on TV? YESYESYES!

We routinely check out something like 20+ books a week between school and personal books. I set up a reading list every year during the summer so that I can start requesting books and DVDs starting at the end of September. Right now, we have windows open, costumes on the sewing machine, skulls in the living room. It sets the mood and we always have a good time. With all the ghost stories going around, I thought I would throw my hat in with a story that happened to me in the house I grew up in.

In my teens, I had the upstairs bedroom which had been renovated from attic space. There were two rooms, one each for my brother and sister who were both significantly older than I was. Over time, I lived in one room or the other; this particular story takes place in the green bedroom, formerly my brother’s room. I think I moved into that room around 14 or 15 years old. There were no windows in the room, just an obscured skylight that let in light, but wasn’t clear enough to see through. The skylight was on the slanted part of the ceiling and for some time I had my bed beneath it but at some point, being the angsty teen I was I ended up covering the skylight so that no light entered the room at all.

I lived a Spartan existence void of color and proper angles.

As you can see in my insanely accurate and realistic rendering above, I actually positioned my bed in the closet. The closet was just deep enough for clothes but stretched the width of the room so there were a lot of storage boxes and junk in both corners. There were old clothes in the closet as well, so it wasn’t functional for me. The twin sized bed fit in to the closet perfectly with the accordion doors open (I didn’t know how to take them off at the time) so the closet acted like almost a canopy. Unrelated: I used to glue pictures of cute guys to the wall in the closet. So if you were a good looking musician or actor in the 90s, HELLO THERE.

I want to believe.  Like, super believe.

In retrospect, the trigger was Ouija boards and other spirit boards. There was a particular Ouija board that we used multiple times at my house. It belonged to a friend and supposedly had one dominant spirit that spoke through it . We used that board in my house during slumber parties, sleep overs, etc multiple times since junior high school. In fact, I wrote a story about a Ouija board for the junior high’s annual literary book that got a lot of attention because of how scary it was. EDIT:  It was a terrible story written by a 12 year old.  I do not recommend it.  I had played with Ouija boards at other people’s houses and it was always a spooky but fun experience. No one ever thought anything of it and neither did I.

Tawny Kitaen sounds like a fake name and it is. Whitesnake forever.

Things started to change when I slept in that room. I don’t remember what came first: weird feelings in the room or making my own Ouija board. First I’d just use large sheets of scrapbook paper with the Ouija board words and letters written on it. A planchette could be anything, really, so from just other paper or clear plastic make up lids. We’d play and then when we were done, we’d throw the paper away. This happened a few times until I had the great idea to use a permanent marker and draw out a Ouija board on a small table I had. It looked like wood, but was actually plastic, about the height of a coffee table, but not as long. It was heavy but had wheels that were exceptionally squeaky. This table was made in desperation because so many things had been freaking me out and I wanted to find out what was happening.  Little things like light tapping, creepy out feelings for no reason, and cold temperatures. There is an air conditioning vent in the room but at that time, it didn’t make the room cool in the least. Unless you were right next to the air vent you wouldn’t feel anything. There was one air conditioning unit for the house which was enough…until the attic was renovated. It wasn’t until much later that additional air vents were added which made it more comfortable so usually it was annoyingly hot nights and days spent downstairs or out of the house completely.

One night I was laying in bed, head at the foot of my bed, not in the closet, and watching TV.  I had my back to the chair in the corner.  At first, I didn’t notice anything but I kept hearing a tapping noise from behind me but explained it away as the noise from the television.  When it kept happening, I turned the TV off to listen and for a minute it stopped.  I was relieved and as I was about to turn the TV back on the tapping was back and I felt completely terrified.  I never once turned around but I could feel something there, in the chair, looking at me.  You know when you stare at someone and think to yourself “look at me! look at me!”?  That’s what it felt like.  I never turned around.  I got up, grabbed my clothes off of the floor (it was HOT, okay?) and walked to the door.  I was trying not to panic but I wanted to scream my head off and run downstairs and cry.  I am not sure why, but I felt like I absolutely had to retain my composure, so I said out loud, “I’m leaving now.”  I had gotten about two steps away from the threshold when the door slammed behind me.

THE DOOR FUCKING SLAMMED ON ITS OWN BEHIND ME.

The stairs were steep and wooden, like the stairs on an outdoor deck.  I ran/jumped/fell down the stairs as fast as I could.  I don’t remember much after that except I knew I wasn’t going back up there.  I ran the experience over and over in my head, trying to find an explanation.  The most common theory from people I told was that I was just scared and I must have accidentally pulled it with my clothes or it got blown shut.  These are perfectly reasonable ideas except that I wasn’t wearing any clothes (I generally left that out in retelling) and there isn’t any way that the door could have just swung shut.  The carpet was a regular, plush carpet and the door always scraped across the surface.  You could shut the door fine but you had to use force; slamming the door was difficult, though not impossible because if you remember, I was a teenager.

I started sleeping in my Dad’s office/hide out.  There was a bed next to the desk, and on the desk was an old stereo, probably from the 70’s or 80’s.  It was a tiny room, with just my Dad’s desk, a twin bed and storage shelves. I didn’t like the silence and of course, the general terror I was feeling so I turned on the radio.  It had the dial for tuning, but there were only a handful of stations that were close enough to come in clearly.  When the station was tuned in fully, there would be a green light next to the red power light.

Like this, but not. Bigger, no faux wood. Bigger knobs. Close enough.

I was listening to WCIL at a normal volume and it slowly began to fade out.  I was annoyed, not scared.  So I tuned in to the next station, an oldies station. This was actually my favorite station at the time because CIL was so hit and miss regarding good music.  Anyway, I listened for a song or two and again it got quieter and quieter.  I started to feel the panic welling up inside of me, but I really didn’t want to believe this was happening.  It had been a few days and I honestly thought that if I just stayed out of my room I’d be okay.  I thought I was done.

I hated country music, but on to the country music station it was.  Same result.   I was crying and panicking but doing it quietly.  Again, I don’t know why, and I still don’t know why to this day.  I didn’t want to act scared.  The rational answer for the stereo thing would be the simple fact that it was old, except that it had never happened before or after as long as I was with someone or if it was daytime.  It happened one more time at night while I was alone but I left before it could do it repeatedly.  I ended up sleeping on the couch in the living room, all the lights and TV on.  This lasted for a couple of weeks until I got in trouble for sleeping on the couch–my parents thought I was just staying up late to watch TV.

I have no idea why they thought that.

I didn’t go up to my room unless I was with a friend and it was during the day.  One time, a friend left her purse upstairs so she ran up to get it.  This was in the middle of the afternoon, after school.  She flew down the stairs. white as a ghost, so to speak.  She was screaming at me, wanting to know what the hell was wrong with my room. She knew of course, but “what the hell is wrong with your room!?” seemed to be the only thing that she could say. When she calmed down, she explained that she hadn’t seen a thing, but was just terrified when she went in to my room because she felt like someone was in there with her.

At least I didn’t feel all that crazy anymore.  Or maybe I was just happy that someone else was crazy, too.

I really wish there was some kind of amazing ending to this story.  Priests, maybe.  Voices or blood running down the walls.  But there really isn’t.  As an expert clueless group of teenaged girls, we decided that the best thing to do was to cover the Ouija board I made so as the genius idiot I am, I painted over the top of the table to obscure everything I had written on it.  This didn’t really do anything other than further ruin the table so sneaked the table to the curb one trash day and that was that.  I got in trouble a few weeks later when it was discovered that a piece of furniture had just disappeared from the house.  I said that I broke it, which is actually not entirely a lie in my opinion.  Nothing particularly terrifying happened in that room again to my knowledge, but it was never comfortable again.  It was never ‘my’ room after that.  I moved into a different room eventually and went on to have terrifying experiences in there that seem completely unrelated to the terrifying events in this story.  Those were more bizarre, but actually more explainable.  Or at least more easily rationalized.

So do I think I was being haunted?  I guess it depends on what your definition of haunted is, but yes, I think my playing around, trying to talk to spirits did something.  I feel like a lot of my experience in that room was unexplainable even though I really did want a rational reason.  It was in that room when I started having seriously bad dreams and night terrors.  They weren’t regular or often–that didn’t happen for a couple more years and they came about on and off for more than a decade.  I had other strange (terrifying) experiences in the house, living on my own, living in my own house now.  I don’t think about this often, but when I do, I wonder if that experience was some sort of catalyst for other strange occurrences.

Or, maybe it’s all nothing?

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