by Samantha Dunaway Bryant
This Halloween, Curiosity Quills authors are spreading the spookiness by sharing their own personal paranormal experiences. Get haunted with these bone-chilling blogs, or post your own! #myghoststory.
NOTE: To protect the “innocent” I’m avoiding using my childhood friend’s name. I’ll call her “A.”
A. told me her house was haunted, but I didn’t believe her. I thought she was just embarrassed to have me over and was making excuses. My family wasn’t rich, but hers was far poorer. I’d seen cockroaches skittering across the sink behind the leaking faucet when I came over to work on a school project. There was never anything to eat. You had to go in the back door because the stairs had caved in at the front door.
Still, I wanted to spend the night.
We’d be far less well supervised at her house than we were at mine. A.’s mother worked long hours and, even if she was home, was likely to be soundly asleep pretty early. Her house was near enough the Avenue (which is what everyone called the main street through town), that we could walk to a small club that I technically wasn’t allowed to go to, where a boy I wouldn’t be allowed to date liked to hang out.
So, I pushed. She reluctantly agreed.
I showed up with my overnight bundle right on time. Slipped into the sleeping bag was a dress I had managed to buy without my mother knowing. It was shorter and tighter than I would have been allowed to wear. Now that I’m a mother, I see her point. But this was then. I was fifteen. I knew everything. (Though the dress was a horribly 80s thing … so maybe I didn’t know *everything*).
When my friend let me in, we went to her room to change and primp before our planned departure for our not-so-slumber party. The weirdness began right away.
I had barely entered the room, when the door slammed shut behind me, as if an angry person had thrown it closed. I jumped, squeaking a little. A. put her hands on her hips and looked up at the ceiling. “I told you to be nice!” she yelled. The door creaked gently back open again. “That’s better,” she said softly and shrugged apologetically at me.
I was rattled, but I was going to admit that to A. I already felt inadequate next to her in so many ways. A. had it rough and it had made her tough in a beautiful way that I admired. I felt weak and naïve next to her and was always doing foolish things to try and show that I could “hack it.” She had this don’t-fuck-with-me air about her. The air around me was awfully sweet and push-over-y. At least that’s how I saw it then
So, I laughed as if she had played a great joke on me, and pulled out my primping supplies. We spent an hour or so messing with each other’s hair and getting our clothing to lay just so, and then we were off.
The night was nothing to remember. The boy I liked didn’t show up. One of A.’s ex-boyfriend’s did. The music was loud, and not my kind of music. Everyone there seemed older and more glamorous than us. Mostly we sat on a stone wall at the back and felt awkward.
Our bravado was up on the way home though, and we each pretended for the other that we had had a better time than we had. We had cheered each other pretty thoroughly by the time we arrived at A.’s back door.
Following her lead, I was quiet as we walked through the downstairs. I swung the bag of convenience store snacks I had picked up for us in one hand and followed her to the stairwell. On the landing halfway up, A. turned to me and asked me to wait. I nodded, leaning against the bannister and pulling off my ridiculous shoes. A. went upstairs ahead of me.
I didn’t have to wait long, and that was good because the stairwell was creaky and poorly lit and I was freaking myself out pretty well. I was sure that I heard whispering. She came to the top of the stairs a minute or two later and hissed that I could come up. I hurried after her.
When I think about it now, I know it’s entirely possible that A. was yanking my chain, and that she had done all the damage herself while I was waiting there on the landing. But she really did seem as surprised as me when we opened the door and there were feathers all over the room. Surprised and angry. Her face purpled.
As I stood there with my mouth hanging open, slowly figuring out that a pillow had been sliced open and the feathers had come from inside, the boombox in the corner suddenly cut on. Neither of us was standing near it. And I jumped and squealed again. The radio station went to fuzz then turned back off.
A. rolled her eyes. “Now he’s showing off.”
I smiled tentatively. “Boys always do.” I was scared to ask who “he” was.
That made her laugh and I felt clever and brave. But when the lights cut off, we jumped into each other’s arms and stood looking around at the room for a long moment. I tried not to let myself tremble. After another moment or two, the lights flickered back on and A. turned to me. “I think he’s gone for now.”
I nodded. “You hungry?”
We flopped down in the middle of the floor amid all the feather and opened our snack bag and devoured our chips and snack cakes and sodas like they were going out of style. I agreed with A. that the room felt different now. Maybe I had just overcome my fears, or maybe there really was a ghost and the ghost had finished playing with us for the night.
Weird things continued to happen from time to time whenever I visited A.’s house, though nothing as scary as that night. To this day, I don’t know the name of the ghost. She said that telling his story would only make him stronger, so she refused to tell. Maybe she didn’t even know.
Samantha Bryant believes in love, magic, and unexplainable connections between people. Her favorite things are lonely beaches, untamed cliff tops, sunlight through the leaves of trees, summer rains, and children’s laughter. She has lived in many places, including rural Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Vermont, England and Spain. She is fierce at heart, though she doesn’t look it.
She’s a fan of Charlotte Brontë, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Neil Gaiman, Nicole Perlman, and Joss Whedon, among many others. She would like to be Amy Tan when she grows up, but so far it doesn’t look like she’ll be growing up any time soon.
Samantha writes blogs, poems, essays, and novels. Mostly she writes about things that scare or worry her. It’s cheaper than therapy. Someday, she hopes to make her living solely as a writer. In the meantime, she also teaches middle school Spanish, which, admittedly, is an odd choice for money-earning, especially in North Carolina.
When she’s not writing or teaching, Samantha enjoys time with her family, watching old movies, baking, reading, and going places. Her favorite gift is tickets (to just about anything).