Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Haunted House

The two-story farmhouse stands alone in a naked yard. Giant trees that used to hide its cracked paint and faded shingles have been butchered for their valuable, tall, straight trunks. Beds of daffodils, no doubt the pride and joy of some long deceased woman, surround the abandoned residence in early spring. Just after the yellow flowers whither, beautiful pink lilies start to reach for the sun but are cruelly hacked to pieces by Daddy’s hay mower. Heaps of leftovers from former white-trash renters ooze out of collapsing storage sheds. The ancient dwelling has been uninhabited for years (besides a few messy coons and mice) but the second-story curtains sometimes rustle and though there is no electricity, a yard light seems to glimmer across the pasture. The crumbling house should have fallen down long ago, but the spirits of those who have lived, and died, seem to be keeping it alive. We call the shell of a former home, the haunted house.

Okay—so a hole in the side of the house makes the curtains move (it looks eerily like a white lady gazing out the window), and the yard light that sometimes mysteriously appears is a reflection on the window from the light in our barn lot. As far as I know, the only person that has died there was a deer hunter that was brutally murdered in the attic leaving a bloodstain on the hardwood floor as evidence, and that was a story my morbid friend Barbara made up. I was furious when I found out Barbara had made up the story about the deer hunter. The deer hunter was the main part of the legend behind the haunted house.

Barbara was three years older than me and three years taller. Her twisted imagination laid the foundation for the haunted house. Before Barbara and I went exploring it, there was no haunted house, only an old, empty farmhouse. The tour of the empty home was kind of interesting because of the amount of junk people left behind, but it didn’t get exciting until Barbara looked in the attic. There were no stairs to the attic, so we designed a teetering ladder out of an old coffee table, mouse-eaten couch cushions, and a milk crate. Barbara climbed up the makeshift ladder and was able to peek into the square hole in the ceiling. Clinging to the edge of the opening, she was barely able to get high enough to see anything. She struggled to get a good look and suddenly; she let out a shocked gasp.

“What?” I asked. (curious).

“There’s something up here!” she answered in a frightened voice (Barbara was very good at frightened voices).

“What is it?” (worried).

“I don’t know…It’s on the wood floor…It’s reddish brown…It’s shaped weird…like a…a…” she replied (making full use of dramatic pauses).

“Like a what?!” What?! (anxious).

“An AXE!” Barbara explained. “It’s a bloodstain in the shape of an axe! (very original).

“A bloodstain in the shape of an axe!” (thrillingly, horrifyingly, excited). “Why would there be an axe-shaped bloodstain on the attic floor?” I asked shuddering with the expectation of the spine-tingling tale I knew Barbara would tell.

Barbara claimed a deer-hunting friend of her father’s had been killed around the area. She hadn’t known exactly where, but we must have found the grisly crime scene. As we looked around for further evidence, we found a letter written in German, which we assumed was a love letter, and a hunting knife. Using the bloodstain and the mysterious white lady I sometimes saw looking out the attic window as inspiration, we were able to compose a fantastic story of romance, betrayal, and death. It was great slumber party entertainment to bring groups of giggling girls for a midnight tour of the haunted house.

When I grew tall enough to look into the attic myself, I discovered to my amazement, there was no bloodstain. There wasn’t even a floor! The attic had never been finished and was just installation. The only stains on that were bird droppings. My sister, Jessica and I had lied to all the girls we terrified with stories of the deer hunter’s murder and white lady’s suicide! How dare Barbara deceive me? Oh, well. I loved being scared, and it wasn’t like I didn’t add plenty of my own embellishments to the story. Finding out that the whole thing was a fake didn’t stop me from using the haunted house to scare my friends whenever I got the opportunity. The older I got, the more horrifying the legend became. I even started rigging the door so it got stuck, trapping my victims inside, before my obsession with scary stories, graveyards, and horror movies passed.

I still go there in the spring to pick daffodils. The white lady watches from the attic window.

If you made it this far, this is another selection from the memoir class that I took in college. There may be a little hyperbole here and there--afterall, a memoir is how you remember your life, and memory can be a tricky thing. Hence the blog subtitle.


Gina said...

I enjoyed this, you should think about writing a book!!! You have a way with words.

Heidi said...

Your posts are always so entertaining! What a great story.

Kristen said...

Now that was fun!

How I love those little stories we tell as kids! I remember what we called "the crazy lady's house" It was said she hung a butcher knife in the window. Of course everytime we went by the only thing in the window was curtains! Ah the twisted imagination of youth. I do know the woman who lived there was not a friendly woman - and now I wonder what chains were keeping her heart in bondage. What caused her pain and meaness? I pray that before she died she found some peace.

Bunny Trails said...

Great writing! Definitely brought back my own crazy, scary childhood memories. It's funny - we always liked getting scared, too, as kids. My boys? Not so much. They really DON'T like getting scared - at all. In fact, they usually get upset.