By Kat Howard
I used to tell all the kids at school that my house was haunted. During lunch, my classmates would excitedly munch at their French bread pizzas and sip at cartons of whole milk while I told stories of the trapped souls who inhabited my family’s property. There was the man, shell shocked from war, who slit his throat on the front steps of my house. There was the little boy who was crushed by a rock in my barnyard, which was once a local dance hall. I bragged about my great aunt, who held séances in the attic right next to my bedroom.
My favorite story was that of the twins who ate too many apples, seeds and all, from the trees in my yard. When they had beans for dinner later that night, it gave them a stomachache so horrendous their parents had to call the doctor. Now, I was never quite clear on what killed them, but specifics weren’t going to hold back a natural storyteller like me. In my most likely fictional version of the story, the twins died when the doctor gave them the wrong medicine and their little stomachs expanded until they burst. I would conclude the story, and this part was morbidly true, with the fact that there is a picture of my young grandfather holding up a lifeless twin with each hand next to the apple trees.
When kids from school came over, they wanted to go ghost hunting. I would lead them on a tour to all the spots where people died. We would pretend to hear voices and swear that the ghosts were moving the toys on my playground when we weren’t looking. On some occasions, we would try to talk to the little boy who died in my barnyard, offering him piles of whatever snack I could sneak out of my mother’s cabinets as a peace offering.
On one uncomfortably hot summer night, while my classmates were back home sleeping safely in their beds, I woke up paralyzed with dread. The stagnantly humid August air had somehow escaped the room and it was growing so cold that the hairs on my arms stood straight up. I watched in horror as my blankets were slowly pulled away from me until they slipped off the tips of my toes and fell to the floor. Although I could see nothing, I felt a cold, steady grip tightening around both of my ankles. I tried to scream, but my voice escaped me. My invisible intruder began to violently tug and pull my body toward the end of the bed. With all my 10-year-old might, I clutched on to the bars of my headboard until my ankles were finally released and the warm air made its way back into the room. I curled up in the fetal position and sobbed for the rest of the night. Suddenly, I didn’t want my house to be haunted anymore.
Kat is a New England native and resident. Since discovering the art of written word at age six, she has not stopped writing. Kat recently graduated with a Bachelor’s in nonfiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University.