Strange occurrences are possible in the most mundane settings. Here at the house on our farm we have had more than our share of odd and inexplicable events over the years.
When I was young, perhaps thirteen or so, my family lived in a mobile home that was set on the same space our house now occupies. The trailer was lost in a fire in 1985. My room was at the farthest northern end of the old mobile home. Very late one night, I believe it was in November, I was having trouble getting to sleep. Everyone else in my family was sound asleep, yet I just couldn’t seem to settle my brain. I lay there and listened to a strong wind howling around the corners of the house and through the bare limbs of the tall trees outside.
Suddenly, just outside my window, I heard a child calling. The voice said “Mama….mama,” several times. The sound had a profound quality of loneliness, grief and fear. I recall it as the saddest sound I’ve ever heard. I knew there should be no one outside our house at such an hour. We lived in a very rural area with no other homes nearby. In such situations we sometimes grasp at unlikely solutions to problems that can not be explained. I thought perhaps one of my younger brothers was somehow outside, although I knew they were both asleep in the bunkbeds in their room.
Just to satisfy my concerns, I got up and checked my brothers. They were, indeed, asleep in their beds. Their room was located in a part of the house well away from me. It was not the sound of a boy talking in his sleep that I had heard. Puzzled, and not at all interested in looking outside in the dark for lost children, I went back to bed. Within a couple minutes, I heard my mother come out of her room at the other end of the trailer, a good sixty feet from me. I listened to her go to my brothers’ room and open the door. It seemed odd, but I stopped puzzling over it and finally fell asleep.
In the morning I asked my mom why she had come out of her room the night before. She said she thought she heard one of my brothers calling her from outside the house and went to check that they were both in their beds. I told her about what I had experienced and neither of us knew what to make of it.
As the years passed, bringing a fire to destroy the trailer and the subsequent construction of a new house, it happened that a northwest corner room of our home was built over the site where I heard the child’s voice. Part of the room is below grade-level with one wall set into the ground similar to a basement and the floor is poured concrete. There are three rooms along that wall of the house that are made the same way. The entire house sits on ledge. Of all the rooms in the house, that one is always unusually chilly. One corner is so cold that water will condense on the floor during the heat of summer if we don’t run a dehumidifier. The other two similar rooms do not have that problem. People have suggested there might be an underground spring in that spot.
When we did the excavation work to pour the foundation and floor of our current home, we hit solid rock and no water. Our drinking well is about twenty-five feet from that room and it was drilled 300 feet deep before water was struck. I am not convinced a spring exists there. I suspect someone was lost in that space. Some small child, perhaps? The road we live beside was undoubtedly a trail for the natives during pre-European times and slowly was turned into a modern route. It has existed as a link between towns for at least three hundred years. Who knows what sorts of deaths could have happened here?
Three hundred feet south of our home is a cemetery so old it has no headstones or town records to identify the occupants. In our own time at the farm, there have been three deaths along the mile or so of road near us. Deaths on this road are fairly common. One woman passed away in a car accident just one-hundred-fifty feet from our home. Or something else might have happened to claim a child’s life. The land we live on has been farmed for over two hundred years. I honestly believe the voice my mother and I heard was not of this earth.
With this history in mind, I’d like to present some of the other strange experiences we have had in this house. My husband, two-year-old daughter and I moved into our home in 1988. We have just the one child. Her first room, until she was a young teenager, was right beside ours. Our bedroom was the chilly room I discussed. Many times growing up she would complain to me that she felt like she was being watched in her room. I always told her not to worry, just her imagination.
One day, when she was ten or eleven, she was alone in the house. Her dad was out in the yard washing the car. I was in the barn tending to rabbits. As she tells it, she decided to take a shower. After getting cleaned up, she wrapped the towel around herself and went in her room. At that time we were still constructing the house and the “door” to her room was a set of long, thick curtains, the type used to insulate sliding glass patio doors. She said as she was getting dried off, suddenly the curtains flew apart as though hands had pulled them open, a voice said “Rarr!” and then the curtains closed again.
The first I knew of it was when she came wide-eyed and terrified into the barn and asked me if dad or I had come in the house. I knew we had not. She had been alone in the building. This happened just a few months after my father passed. Maybe my dad was making his presence known. He was always fond of playing tricks on children. At least, I hope that’s who it was.
On several occasions over the years, I have been using a particular tool or piece of equipment to work on a construction or repair job around the house when the tool will disappear for a time. I will search in a most annoyed fashion for the item that I knew I had just set down, but will not find it. After I turn away to do something else, and then turn back again, there the tool will be, right where I’ve already looked. Very aggravating.
Around the time of the curtain incident with my daughter, I had purchased a ring of which I was especially fond. It is pictured in the photo above. A simple sterling band set with five large dark red garnets. Not a terribly expensive piece, just pretty and beloved by me. I was going away on a two-week trip to England with my daughter and decided to leave the ring home. I opened the drawer of my bedside stand and placed the ring on top of a small wood jewelry box, where it was easy to see. This happened when our bedroom was still the chilly, downstairs room.
When we returned from England, I opened the drawer and the ring was gone. The only person who had been in the house for that two weeks was my husband. He knew nothing about the ring and had not opened my drawer. I searched everywhere for that ring. For days and days I hunted, although I knew exactly where I’d put it. Finally, I gave up. About a year later, I opened the drawer one day and there was the ring, right where I’d left it! I had opened that drawer at least once a week for the whole year to get other jewelry and the ring was not there.
About when the ring went away, an important document that was left on the dining table also disappeared. We never found the paperwork again and had to get it duplicated. We could never devise an explanation for how the papers went missing.
After our daughter grew up and left, the house seemed to become more calm. Perhaps her boundless youthful energy helped to power whatever was bothering us. It has been mostly quiet for several years. The oddest thing I have noticed is that sometimes when I go into our new bedroom upstairs I will catch a faint smell of cigarette smoke. No one in our household smokes in or around the home. I encounter this smell when the room has been closed up, so it is not wafting in on a breeze from the neighbors or from a car passing by on the highway. It seems odd, but not too troubling.
Then, starting three years ago, I began watching our granddaughter one day every week. About one year ago, I had Lia, the granddaughter, for the day. My brother was also visiting. He had just driven up from NYC the night before and had slept upstairs in a room on the other side of the house from our bedroom. He was still sleeping around eight in the morning when I took Lia outside with me to do barn chores. As we came in the house at 9:30, I heard the far-away sound of an alarm going off. My brother had woken and was sitting at the table having coffee. I left Lia with him and followed the sound upstairs to investigate.
The little battery-powered alarm clock in our bedroom was going off. It was set to exactly 9:00. I know the clock was at the correct time when I’d glanced at it that morning at 6:30. The clock keeps very good time. It would not have lost a half-hour, especially that quickly. Somehow the hands had been turned back one-half hour, the alarm hand had been moved from its customary 5:00 setting to 9:00 and the button had been slid up to activate the alarm. The clock in question is pictured above. I shut off the alarm by pushing the button down, then went downstairs and asked my brother why he was messing with our clock. He looked at me like I had two heads. To this day, he swears he didn’t go in our room, let alone touch the clock. He was the only one in the house, the only human who could have reset the alarm.
Since the clock incident, there has been one problem with not being able to find something I had just been using, and once when I’ve smelled the smoke, but there have been no other strange instances. Just my luck, writing about it will trigger trouble. Knock on wood!