Friday, October 25, 2013
Day 6: My Sister's Story by Maryanne Stahl
My youngest sister lives on a hill where Indians once roamed, near the Long Island Sound. Incredibly resourceful and blessed with wonderful taste, she has transformed what was a rather ordinary ranch-style house into a lovely, unique home that is open and bright, filled with vintage treasures. In this house she has raised four sweet sons, three dogs, five or six or seven cats, four rabbits, several lizards, and some fish. From her gardens the scents of lavender and roses mingle with the sea breeze. A haven, one would think. And yet.
She didn’t notice anything when they first moved in. Life was busy and the signs were gradual. Her middle boys, twins, had trouble going to sleep at night. They heard whispers in their ears, they said. But what child liked going to bed when there were video games to be played and frogs in the yard to be caught? “I hear whispers” seemed no more alarming than “I need a glass of water.” Go to sleep, my sister would say. Often, the boys would pile together into one bed.
“Shut the closet door,” they would plead when she bid them good-night, and she would do so. After all, she understood how creatures could seem to lurk in closets; at the least, shadows could be cast. But the boys told her it was more than that. Something bad was in there. Or someone. The whisperer came from there, they were sure of it.
So the closet was kept shut. And some nights, that was enough,
But the room was cold, the coldest in the house, no matter what window caulking was done or heat adjustments were made. The twins’ room was icy. So the boys would hunker down under the blankets, covering their ears, whispering to each other to keep from hearing other, creepier sounds.
And so time passed and the twins grew. They did their best to ignore the whispers by playing music or the television. They slept in their own beds now, but still piled on the blankets. Sometimes, the room was quiet for weeks. They got to high school, grew tall, played sports. They had a dog who would guard the house, barking when anyone came up the path, fearless, apparently, except where their room was concerned. She refused to enter it.
One night when the boys were about eighteen, one of them was away, so the other slept alone in the room. He didn’t hear anything as he began to drift off, but before long he sensed something: someone else was there in the room with him. He felt someone near. Had his brother returned? He opened his eyes.
At the foot of his bed, bending, looming over him, was a huge, dark figure—with burning red eyes. The kid screamed , leapt from his bed and ran to his parents’ room, where he spent the rest of the night, half ashamed, at age 18, to have acted in a way that was not at all usual for him, half still frightened out of his wits.
Shortly after that everyone started hearing the whispering. It moved between the twins’ room and just outside their door, in the hall. It said my sister’s name one night, as clear as if she’d said it aloud herself, and she was not the only one who heard it.
For years my sister had tried not to upset the presence, whatever it was, but enough was enough. It had been terrorizing her sons for too long and her youngest son was afraid it would one day haunt his room too. One day when no one else was home, my sister entered the twins’ room and spoke to whomever or whatever was scaring her family. She asked it to stop. She insisted. It was time for it to go. And then she lit a bundle of sage the size of her arm and spent an hour cleansing the room from bed corner to closet corner.
That was about a year ago and the presence has not made itself known since. Of course, both boys are out of the house now—one at college, one in the navy. If the same entity is still around, it is manifesting itself differently. But that is a story for another day.
Maryanne Stahl is the author of the novels Forgive the Moon and The Opposite Shore, and the chapbook Electric Urgency.
Tag, Susan is next. Boo!