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About this Time

When I was an undergraduate I was at the mercy of my fellow classmates when it came time to find rides home for the holidays. Precious few friends, it seemed, were making that 300 mile trek across the state. One year, I happened to finish early and was very fortunate to catch a ride with a friend who lived 80 miles from my hometown and who was gracious enough to drive me to my front door before turning around and continuing on for another hour and a half.

I remember it was a cold November evening and my friend had decided to leave the major highways and take a back road in an attempt to cut time. We had to pass through several small towns on the way. Without warning the crystal clear night turned into a thick fog and as we entered the first town it was as if we had entered a dream. The town was completely deserted and apart from the one or two street lights the town was unlit - not a single house was illuminated from within.

It really bothered us. I remember we drove a little faster to get past this place. The fog lifted and the second small town we passed through was bright and full of life. It was very strange.

When I got to my parent's home, it was late and I was greeted by my sister, who was also visiting, and after getting settled I told about the creepy little town and she replied, "I have something really scary to tell you."

I am not a brave soul and the tone my sister set with those words really got to me. I sat down on the couch and grabbed a pillow for security.

My sister went on to explain how earlier in the evening my dad had casually admitted that, while we lived in our previous home (a creaky old Dutch colonial job a block or so away), he had had reoccurring nightmares about someone falling into a well. This was the first time he had admitted this to anyone and my mother, who had researched the history of the home, remarked that there had been a well that sat where the back porch was now. To take it further my mother now felt it safe to admit that she too had had strange experiences: a number of times she had seen out of the corner of her eye someone standing near her only to turn quickly to see nothing. This was beyond the usual sense that we often get at times.

My sister's confession, however, was beyond belief and to this day still makes me uncomfortable. She revealed that on more than one occasion she had awoken to find a young woman standing at the foot of her bed. She has since told me that, unable to speak or scream out of sheer terror, she would squeeze her eyes shut until she knew the girl had gone. Mind you these encounters happened not when my sister was a child but when she was teenager.

I had a hard time sleeping that night. In my mind I thought back to all the strange things I had experienced such as the times my cat would hiss and growl at things that weren't there or the time my sister's friend came to spend the night and pulled the blinds down and up again only to return to the living room later to find the blinds down again. I remember this because I took the blame for it and it seemed unusual that the blinds would be pulled down (they never were used at all in the room).

I don't know how much of these stories is embellishment and distortion over time. But I do know that when I recently revisited the house (a friend lives there now) that I felt nothing. The only awkward vibe I felt was when I remarked to my friend that I'd forgotten how small the bathrooms were.

But maybe he is not telling me something. Maybe, just maybe, he has inherited the nightmares and lonely little girl at the foot of the bed.

Happy Halloween.
gregory turner-rahman