Happy Halloween single reader!
I love Halloween because it means the holiday season has officially begun. And I always get myself into the spirit by spending way too much time reading scary stories and giving myself nightmares. I have a bit of an overactive imagination and because of that I limit myself by only indulging my morbid curiosities during the month of October. So since I’ve spent the majority of this month sleepless anyway, I figure it’s about time that I share with you some of my spookiest stories.
I’ve been meaning to write about the house we lived in in Leadville this past winter for a while now, but tapping into those memories still frighten me so I’ve been putting it off. But now seems like the appropriate time to scare and be scared, so here we go.
The deal always seemed too good to be true – $150 a month for a beautiful, historic, 3 bedroom house one block from Main Street. We were housesitting for a couple who spent their winters in Arizona, and the rest of the rent would be subsidized by the snow removal we would do for the house and our landlord’s other tenants. If I’m honest, I felt like something was kind of funny the very first time we came to the house. But we were so excited about the deal I brushed it off as paranoia and we moved in a few weeks later.
Because of my still-healing tendinitis and doctor’s orders to stay put, I ended up spending a lot of time alone in the house while Austin lived his life as a proper ski bum. From day one I had the feeling that I was being watched. The house was old and made lots of noises, but there were many afternoons that I’d be sitting in the living room and hear sounds more specific than your typical wining and creaking. It sounded like footsteps coming from the room above me. Of course no one was ever there. In fact the room above was our landlords’ bedroom – locked while they were out of town.
I would always particularly dread the walk up the stairs. I don’t know how to explain it other than the feeling of being watched always intensified there. Sometimes my fear felt so thick I would literally have to throw myself up the stairs as if I were busting through a wall. I knew it was nonsensical – at this point I was acting only on strange feelings and arbitrary noises – but it scared me nonetheless.
It took several weeks for an actual physical manifestation of whatever was going on in that house to show up. A and I had gone out to dinner and left a pot of beans on the stove with the burner still on by accident. When we came back the house was smoky and the beans burnt, but luckily no harm was done. Later Austin admitted to me that that had been the first night he felt anything weird in the house. We think maybe someone/thing was mad at us for being so careless. As he cleaned up the kitchen that night he found a wishbone in the sink. It sounds silly and inconsequential but we had brought no meat, and definitely no bones, into that house since we moved in. Austin logged it in his head as a strange occurrence and headed up the stairs, where for the first time he felt the same sense of being watched that I had been feeling all winter. Just before bed I got up to go to the bathroom. I suppressed my urge to turn on all the lights in an effort to prove to myself how silly I was being. Once again, that dreaded feeling of being watched felt thick all around me in the darkness. When I returned to the bedroom I put my hand against the doorknob to pull it in, without putting enough pressure on it to actually turn the handle. But the handle turned anyway, and the door started to move in the opposite direction as if someone were on the other side pulling it open as I attempted to close it. I flipped out. I literally dove into the bed and under the covers screaming. Austin shot up and closed the door as I cried. He had no idea what was going on. He assured me it was nothing, only later did he share his experience with the wishbone and the strange feeling from that same night.
The noises and general feeling of uneasiness continued throughout the winter. One night as I got ready to meet Austin and a friend for dinner I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye as I walked down the stairs. I darted out the door without even putting on my coat. When that same friend stayed a couple of nights in the room next to ours he admitted to hearing many strange sounds and feeling the same sense of being watched.
When our landlords returned to the house for a weekend they brought their dog with them. The dog had a strange habit of never entering the kitchen through a certain door. The first floor was built in a circular layout, so that every room had one entrance on either side. The dog would be standing at the threshold of the living room and the kitchen, and even if you put a treat right in front of his nose he would run all the way around the house to come into the kitchen from the opposite end. And this dog would never go up the stairs – those same stairs I dreaded – even when called. We asked his owners why they thought he did this and they shrugged their shoulders. “He’s always been that way in this house,” they said, “he’s never this strange anywhere else.” I made eye contact with my landlord, wondering if this was an invitation to talk about our experiences. But I didn’t want to offend them in the case that I was making this all up, and on the other hand, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know details anyway.
Everything culminated on my last night in the house. We had been staying with my parents at their condo in the ski resort for a few weeks, and had returned for just one night to pack my things before I headed off to Canyonlands. Enough time had passed since I’d been in the house that for once I didn’t feel tormented by the potential of a weird movement or sound or feeling. I thought to myself as I fell asleep very comfortably that night that maybe I had made it all up after all. But later I woke up to a clear and very audible “hello.” It was a man’s voice, and thinking the greeting was simply the remnants of a dream, I opened my eyes without fear. There, standing at the corner of the bed, was a tall man in jeans and an orange plaid shirt. Honestly, my first thought was that it was our landlord, as the man had a very similar height and build. But as I shook off my grogginess I realized that that couldn’t be. I never saw his face – once I determined that I was no longer dreaming I buried my head under the covers the same way I would have as a child. I woke up Austin who turned on the light.
The man was gone.
What do you think single reader, do you believe in ghosts?