The house when viewed from the street didn’t look extraordinary. It fit in with the rest of the homes on the street: dark brown, double front doors, long front porch accessed by four low wide steps. The yard was deep and the house was set back from the street. Apparently this was how houses were in the Peterborough Country. Inside the house looked good but it felt all wrong. It felt inhabited by someone or something other than us. We were assured when we bought the house that there was no risky history and nobody had been killed there.
The first time I saw her she was on the stairs. She was a short ancient looking lady with cotton ball white hair puffed around her head. Her face was lined with deep set wrinkles and her coal black eyes bore into mine. She wore an antique looking white nightgown, perhaps it was a shift. She raised her flabby skinned arm and pointed a gnarled finger at me. It looked as if she was going to speak but I was moving backwards as fast as I could shuffle and I fell over into the kitchen and slammed the wooden accordion door shut.
Nobody believed me of course, and nobody else saw her. The stairs were always cold in the spot where she had been standing like a breeze swirled in that one spot, but nobody else would acknowledge it. I stopped using the stairs. I didn’t like the cold and nearly everyone had tripped and fallen on those stairs, so far nobody had been hurt badly but it was just a matter of time. I started using the stairs off the back of the kitchen. They went up through what would have been the sleep quarters for the help years past. It took longer, the stairs were narrow and dark and the maid’s quarters were dank and musty but they were not heavy and oppressive like the front stairs and the area around the front stairs.
Weeks passed without her reappearing. Slowly I started to relax.
It was early morning when I stumbled into the kitchen rubbing sleep out of my eyes. I knew someone else was in the kitchen but it was so quiet. I snapped my eyes open and saw mom’s back. She was standing facing the kitchen counter, but the kitchen was so narrow that I couldn’t see what she was looking at from where I was standing so I crept closer to peer around her shoulder. There on the counter lined up and gleaming under the kitchen lights was every single kitchen knife we owned.
The quiet around us felt ominous. My breath choked in my throat. The drawers were slightly open as if saying “yes I know where you keep the sharp stuff.” The kitchen went cold, too cold. Then the lights snapped off plummeting us into darkness in the windowless kitchen. There was a sound of the accordion door being moved. Something brushed by me. Mom screamed! The lights came back on and all the knives on the counter were facing the opposite direction. Mom was gone!
That was 31 years ago. Mom was never found. We moved out of the house. We didn’t sell it, we just boarded it up. It was eventually condemned due to its state of disrepair. However, over the years the condemned boarded up house has drawn people in and some don’t come out. The town reports them as missing persons but I think she is still in there, angry and hungry to take lives that aren’t hers.
By Shari Marshall – 2019