Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ghost in the Attic (short story)

Ghost in the Attic
I really can't remember when I first noticed the ghost. It had been several months, maybe even a year, since the first time the water pipes clanged, or the lights flickered. I'd called my neighbor, and he'd checked the pipes, drained them, when he thought it could be air in the lines, and, even checked them again, when that didn't work. Ernie is a Jack of all trades, and a confirmed bachelor. Do you remember when unmarried men were called confirmed bachelors? I'd called the Power Company, after the blinking lights for several days, and they could give no explanation. They did finally send someone out to see if there was tree limbs touching the lines anywhere, and he'd found nothing.
I woke one morning to the alarm clock clanging, which hadn't been set in months. And it was 4:00am. At first I figured it was just the result of one of the power blinks, so when it happened the next morning, at the same time, I unplugged the clock. The third morning, when it went off, I knew something was going on, especially when I found that the clock was still unplugged, and the battery back up had no battery installed.
Then there was the issue of things disappearing and then reappearing right where they were supposed to be. My car keys disappeared; they were always attached to the inside of my purse by a clip. After searching for them, I just grabbed the 2nd set of keys out of the key box, figuring that I'd accidentally left them in the car. They weren't in the car, but when I opened my purse, later in the day, there were the keys, attached to the same clip as always.
I'm guessing that about now, you are thinking that I am a little short on blood flow to my brain, that it took so long for me to decide that something was going on in my house. Ghosts usually don't have to hit you in the head with a skillet, to get your attention, if it is your attention they are wanting. But, I knew the complete history of my house. I'd been here 5 years, and in the first 4 or so years, things had been pretty calm and peaceful.
My husband had left me 6 years ago, for the big bowling alley in the sky. He passed away, while bowling in a tournament in another state. They say he had just bowled a perfect game, I guess that is a good time to go, don't you? We hadn't had the perfect marriage, whatever that is, but we had been content. Anyway, after about six months, I decided that I was tired of rattling around in the larger house, and I didn't need that much room, anymore. I put a For Sale sign out front and it sold in 10 days.
I kept a small piece of land that abutted the highway, where I'd always planned to put a small craft and hobby shop, when I retired. I quickly had a small shop built, about 800 square foot, one large room, with a bathroom, and lived in that, while deciding on the floor plan, and finding a contractor. I'd given the kids the pick of any furniture that I would no longer be using, then sold what they didn't want. I kept just enough to get by, figuring that I'd pick up a few antiques if I needed anything more, later on, when the house was finished.
I moved into the new house exactly 18 months after Carl's death. Shortly after I moved in, I went to visit Carl's 'Aunt' Ruby. She had bought and sold antiques up until she had married Carl's Uncle Herbert, which was about 20 years ago. They had been childhood sweethearts, but each had married someone else, then after 2 wives for him, and 3 husbands later for her, they had finally both been single at the same time, and had married. Hubert had recently passed away, and she was considering a move to Georgia with her son, and I was hoping to buy the big walnut sideboard that Ruby had kept, along with the Hoosier cabinet that she had in her kitchen. Even though Aunt Ruby was in her mid 80s, she was as sharp as ever.
Maybe here is where I should add a little of our history together. You've met people that you connect with immediately, haven't you? That you feel you've known forever, after about 2 meetings? Well, that was Ruby and I. We both felt it, and both were really surprised, considering the big difference in our age. I hadn't even really liked Herbert until after he married Ruby, but he was a changed man, he still enjoyed a drink or two, but he wasn't the rounder he had been, before they reconnected.
I knew Ruby believed in Spirits, and though I'd never really thought much about it, I didn't argue when she pointed out things that had happened. One day when she and Carl's sister in law was at my house, I heard my dog bark, and Ruby heard it, too. The only problem was, White-Eye, my dog, had died a week before. Ruby looked at me and said, "White Eye's barking, I thought you said he had died." I know I turned white as a sheet, as I whispered, "He did". The sister in law looked at us both as if we'd lost all our marbles and said she didn't hear a thing. Ruby told me that he may be gone, but his spirit was still with me.
I didn't end up buying either of the pieces, but I did promise to come visit more often, which I did. Then, about a year later, Ruby became ill. I really think it was more grieving for Herbert, but she didn't improve. I went to the hospital to visit, and then I went to visit her at her home, before she moved to Georgia with her son. I took her a stuffed dog, and told her I'd sprinkled some Woofle Dust on it, and it was to be her protector, while she was gone. Woofle Dust, for those who don't know, is invisible and magic, Ruby had also introduced me to it, and she had always sprinkled it on our cards when we were playing, so we would win. It didn't always work, but it was good for a laugh, and we always enjoyed our card games, even when we lost.
I managed not to cry, until I left, but in my heart, I knew it was probably my last visit with my favorite person in the whole world. Sure enough, about 10 months later, I received a call from her son, that Ruby had passed away, and he was bringing her back for burial, beside Herbert. And it seems, knowing my love for the old Hoosier Cabinet that she had kept, she had requested that it be given to me. Since it wasn't a high quality piece, both of her children had agreed, so I became the proud owner of one Hoosier Cabinet, now to get it home, from Georgia. Luckily, her son said that he would be coming back in about 4 months, to visit his granddaughter, and if I would be willing to wait, he'd bring it to me. He also told me that Ruby had kept my letters to her, and a few old photos, and a few other things that she'd requested he give to me.
The day the cabinet was delivered, I put it in the shop, knowing that I wasn't quite ready to see it in my kitchen, the memories would be still a little too fresh. The other 2 boxes, I just left to open later, when I was alone. With all that was going on, it took me about 2 months to get back to the boxes. The first held old photos, some of Carl and me, our kids, Carl's mom and dad, and all their siblings. Those, I knew, would eventually go to my kids. The second box, I had to laugh, when I opened it, there was the 'dog' that I'd sprinkled with Woofle Dust, even some letters she and Herbert had exchanged over the years, before they married. There was also some old costume jewelry, yes, Ruby knew me well, knowing my love for jewelry. It didn't matter that it had no real value, just knowing it had belonged to her, was all that mattered to me. I packed the box back up, and took it to the house, placing it in the upstairs closet, until I could decide what to do with it all.
And shortly afterward, is when the ghost started making it's presence known.
I finally got the Hoosier Cabinet moved into the kitchen, and it looks really nice in that spot. The top only has one little chip in the enamel, and a doily that was crocheted by Aunt Ruby hides that. It was in one of the drawers, when I went through them. I put some antique tins on the top, and a small flower arrangement in the center. And the ghost still played games with me, moving the tins, flowers, and even the doily on several occasions.
I still hadn't figured out what was going on, and though it wasn't frightening, it was disconcerting. Finally, one day, while looking for something, I happened to spot the box in the upstairs closet. I sorted through the letters, and picked up the doggie, intending to place it on the dresser in my room. The phone rang, and I took it to the kitchen, and set it on the doily, while I answered the phone. When I turned around, I could swear she winked at me. So, there is the story of how my ghost came down from the attic to stay.
Aunt Ruby was now home, with her Hoosier Cabinet, and as long as she is allowed to stay downstairs, she doesn't play tricks on me. I did finally move the tins, and place her on the top of the cabinet, because she tolerates children holding her only for short periods of time…. but that's a whole different story.

This is a short story that I wrote that has some true parts, and some is made up along the way.
Ruby was real, and she was a very special part of my life for about 25 years.
The stories about her are real, she definately believed in spirits, and
Pound Puppy is real, he's been a part of my life for several years. But, he never met Ruby..that is another stuffed animal, that never returned home, when she passed away.


  1. Well, I cheated...I printed this off to read later tonight in bed. I got through the alarm clock part and if my alarm goes off at 4am I am going to hunt you alarm WILL go off at 4 am because that is what time I have to get up for work Hugs- Diana

  2. Great story! If my alarm clock went off at 4AM, I'd throw it across the room and then bury it out in the yard later in the day :) I love how parts of your story are true and parts are fiction!

  3. What a great story-you really have a gift for this.
    Thanks for sharing it. ;-)