Kids have active imaginations, no doubt, but how much of it is “imagination”? Let me regale to you a little story that still gives me chills to this day…
When I was a child, my younger sister, single mother, and I lived in my grandmother’s house. It wasn’t a very old house. The wind didn’t whistle through the windows at night and trees only sometimes made bony-fingered hands appear on the walls; there was nothing extraordinary about the house. Oh, except the basement.
There’s always a creepy basement, right? But that is not where this story takes place. This story takes place in a room we shared, which held one of two entry points into another stereotypical scary place: the attic.
We had a penchant for telling each other scary stories, even though we knew we wouldn’t be able to sleep after. Lottie is two years younger than I, and at the bright ages of 4 and 6, we were little sponges of visualization; anything we were told, we imagined quite vividly.
We would hide under our blankets and tell scary bedtime stories after mom had tucked us in and kissed us goodnight.
“Did you hear the one about the dog and the stranger?” I’d ask.
“No,” Lottie would timidly reply.
“Do you want to hear it?”
“Once there was a girl who had a dog and her parents were going away for a few nights.
“‘Now, don’t you worry, honey, we will be back in a few nights,’ her mother assured her, ‘If you get scared, Spot will be with you, just put your hand at the edge of the bed and he will lick your hand.’ So, the parents left and the girl was alone.
“‘This isn’t so bad,’ the little girl thought to herself.
She puttered around the house, watched TV, and did her homework. Then nightfall came. She started to get scared, so she put her hand over the edge of her bed; Spot licked her hand and she felt comforted.
“The next day was the same: she got home from school, did her chores and homework, and when nightfall came, she was still feeling uneasy.
As she was settling in to sleep, she heard dripping coming in from the bathroom. Drip, drip, drip.
Naturally, the little girl got up and checked the faucets; there was nothing wrong with them.
Feeling even more scared, she went back to her bed and put her hand over the edge for Spot to lick her hand. Still, she heard ‘drip, drip, drip.’ She got up once more to check the dripping. This time, she checked in the shower.
As she pulled back the curtain, there was Spot, hanging from the shower head. If Spot was hanging from the shower head, who was under the bed?”
Lottie started crying. I never meant to make her cry, but she is an intense dog-lover. That’s not exactly a ghost story, but it is pretty freaky.
One thing I forgot to mention about our grandmother’s house is that at night, it got so still, so silent that you could hear every movement. The floors were ceramic or hardwood. My mom felt that the house was haunted, and she told us so.
Every house my mom lived in had been haunted, or so she had said, with ghosts “attached” to them. She told us the ghosts lived in the attic of this house – perfect nightmare fodder, considering the attic entrance was right above our bedroom’s doorway. A few nights later, I had a terrible nightmare. A vivid one.
When I fell asleep and started dreaming, it was as if I hadn’t fallen asleep at all. Lottie and I were lying in bed, pretending to sleep so that we could get a candy bar and a toonie in the morning when our mom checked in on us. Then I heard a scratching, light but sharp, on the wooden headboard – or was it coming from the closet?
Suddenly, the closet burst open and a dark shadow flew over my head and into the bed beside me. I was scared so I covered my head with the blankets. Then I heard the scratching again, only this time, it was coming from beside me.
I slowly peered over the edge of my blanket and there was Lottie, red-eyed with a huge mouth and fangs protruding from it.
She let out a snarling growl and dove for my face. That’s when I woke up, panting and afraid to open my eyes, squeezing them shut. I slowly, slowly opened my eyes to the pitch black room and dared to turn to look at my sister sleeping peacefully beside me. I was calm for a moment… until I saw her face.
It could have been the lighting of the room, just a shadow, but as I mentioned already, when I had opened my eyes, the room was pitch black.
When I looked at her face, the terror that had subsided deep down into the core of my being returned in a flash.
What I was seeing was not my sweet baby sister, but a little girl with gaping black holes for eyes and a deep, dark, wide mouth drawing all the oxygen from the room at that moment. I started shaking her to wake her up and I cried and held her when she did.
To this day, I can’t be 100% sure that what I saw that night, in that house, was just my imagination.