Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ghost story

(originally posted on Halloween 2011)

805 Falcon Lane street view
When I was eight, my family left Colorado Springs, Colorado for West Chester, Pennsylvania, and moved into a haunted house located at 805 Falcon Lane, where we lived for two years.
805 Falcon Lane aerial view
As I recall, it had an upstairs and a downstairs, with a very long and steep adjoining stairway; there was an unfinished basement; there was a very steep driveway.Both the front and back yards were huge, and behind the house was a heavily wooded grove.  In the mornings, I’d look out at our yard and see pheasants strutting about; in the evenings, I’d look out and see fireflies everywhere.
I was the only black kid in my entire grade, and my family - with its black patriarch and white matriarch - seemed to be the only one of its kind in all of Chester County at the time.People stared at us with curiosity, constantly… and I became painfully self-conscious.Out-of-place, shy, and utterly alone, I clung to my three-year-old kid sister.

My sister was funny and full of imagination, frequently saying and doing things that cracked us up as a family.She never felt the same loneliness as I, not merely due to her youth, but also because she made a new friend the very first day we took up residence in that house on Falcon Lane.

“I made a new friend,” announced my sister excitedly, tip-toeing through a maze of moving boxes.
My mother asked tolerably, “Oh?  And what is your new friend’s name?”

“Dawn.  Dawn Honnick.”
We all laughed and laughed and laughed - her new imaginary friend had both a first and a last name!  My sister went on to describe the blonde color of her new friend’s hair and the Holly Hobby-style dress she wore, and we all marveled at her quick and vivid imagination. To hear my sister tell it, Dawn Honnick was always at her side, and she’d regularly admonish us for sitting atop her hapless imaginary friend.

My father bought us a large swing-set for the back yard, and in good weather, we played on it constantly…my sister, Dawn Honnick and me.  In bad weather, we played in our rooms…and occasionally the unfinished basement (though I was loath to go there due to silverfish and centipedes).
Some time during all of the moving and the change, my maternal grandmother in Holland fell ill and died. There hadn’t been enough time for my grandmother to hold my kid sister (in case you’ve forgotten, my parents adopted me after several barren years; five years after my adoption, they became pregnant with my sister)…not enough money for my mother to fly home for the funeral…and my mother slipped into a terrible, dark depression.
To cheer her up, two of my three favorite aunts from Holland came to visit us.Tante Aag had an infrequent seizure disorder…though during her month-long stay, it happened weekly.“Oh, I feel funny,” she’d whisper, before her eyes rolled back in her head and foam began to spill from between her sputtering lips and her body began thrashing about.

Tante San (who gave me the plate), fell end over end down the long and precarious stairway, right in front of us all; she later said the heel of her shoe must have become caught on the carpet…

After my aunts returned home, my mother’s depression worsened to the point of nervous breakdown, and she was hospitalized for six weeks.
The weird darkness persisted. One windy day, I returned home after playing with my friend Nicki Namahira to find the front and back doors of the house wide open, wind blowing wildly; I found myself too afraid to enter, and returned to Nicki’s to call home: my mom was home, and assured me all the doors were shut.

That night, I had a dream that the phone that hung in the kitchen was ringing, ringing, ringing...I walked to it, picked it up, brought it up to my ear.  For a moment, all I heard was static; then I heard a scary male voice over the crackle.“Spydra,” he said, “We’re waiting for you upstairs in the attic…but we know you’re too scared to come up and see us….”

I dropped the receiver and turned to walk down the hallway, up the long stairway and down the upstairs hallway.  A rope hung there from the ceiling that when pulled brought down steps that led to the attic.  I pulled the rope, and climbed the steps; I saw a green light glowing beneath the attic door.  The sound of static grew louder, a cacophony of voices laughing and groaning in a terrifying crescendo as I approached the door and pushed it open...
I awoke.

From thenceforth, I struggled to fall asleep at night, insisting on a night light, though uncertain of whether it helped or it hurt; being able to see my closet door, I imagined I could see it opening ever so slowly, and would lie terrified until daybreak.

I lay that way one night, trying to will myself to sleep.I looked out into shadowy hallway, and was startled to see one shadow suddenly pull away from the rest.  My eyes widened; the shadow took the form of a man, a shadow man looking at me.Was I imagining things, was I dreaming, I wondered…watching as the shadow took a step toward me, then another, and another.I knew the shadow man was looking straight at me, and as he approached, a scream welled up in my chest – but I was paralyzed with fear, and could neither move nor make a sound.
The shadow man stood directly beside my bed, looking down at me; the pounding of my heart was as loud as a big bass drum as he lowered himself to down to sit beside me on the bed.I felt the bed move with his weight…heard the springs squeak as he sat down, and at that moment, the spell was broken.My scream was loud and sure, “DAAAAAAAAAD!!!!!!!!!!”

In an instant, the shadow became fluid and whisked under my bed, I still screaming; my father burst into my room, asking me what was the matter.

“There’s a ghost under my bed!!!”I shouted.He turned on the lights and looked about, looked under the bed – of course, there was nothing.I slept with my parents that night, and with my sister for the remainder of our stay in that house.
For years, I wondered if I’d been dreaming; it all seemed so real.


Almost thirty years later, my husband and I sat with my sister and her husband, drinking beer and taking turns sharing scary stories.As I shared the story above, my sister (who is black like me) turned a crazy shade of pale, and her eyes welled up with tears.
"What the heck is the matter with you,” I asked.
She composed herself, and then said, “Remember my ‘imaginary friend’ Dawn Honnick? Well, she wasn’t imaginary – she was a ghost.  One day, while we were playing on the swing set, Dawn told me she was there to protect me.‘Protect me from what,’ I asked.‘From him,’ said Dawn, pointing toward the steep sloping driveway…and there I saw, in broad daylight, a shadow man standing next to the house, watching us.”

The next day, my sister called me, breathless; walking up the stairs in her house here in Colorado Springs, she found lying on one of the steps an envelope yellowed with age; she has no idea if or how it may have dropped there, but it was addressed to our family at 805 Falcon Lane.

* * * * * * * *
True story...and as they say, truth is stranger than fiction
This is the day of the year when the veil separating us from the spirit world is at its thinnest. 
Happy Halloween, folks, and be careful out there.


No comments:

Post a Comment