When I was about 13 years old, I started high school in a sleepy little suburb in Brisbane. I had moved around a lot throughout my primary years, attending six different primary schools in two different countries, and living in far too many houses to count. My mother was never very happy about how much she needed to move my sister and I around during these formative years since it lead us both to have a patchy and incomplete education. She decided that we would go to one high school for the whole five years to give us the best chance at a consistent education. As a part her decision, she and our step-father moved our family in to a beautiful split-level house which was relatively new - only built in the '60s. It was in a good neighbourhood on the "classy" side of the city. Nothing was amiss and everything was perfect.
The house was two-storeys tall but had three half-levels on the inside. The bottom level was given over to the garage, the rumpus room and the laundry. The garage had a door that lead straight on to an interior set of wooden stairs in a small square chamber; to the left was a blank wall and the side of the stairs; to the right and immediately across from the bottom stair was the door to the rumpus room. The rumpus room was an open room with a large set of double doors that led out to the back yard and was covered with a patio with white pillars on each corner. Just in front of this patio was a small patch of garden with a bird of paradise plant in it. Along the left wall of the rumpus room, beside the door from the stairs was another door that led to a small laundry which had a window and a door to the outside also.
Up the stairs from the rumpus room is the kitchen, dining and formal sitting area. The kitchen has windows that face out to the back yard and there's a nice, big verandah directly outside it. The furthest right edge is beside the window of the laundry downstairs and looks over the whole garden, which runs down the steep shoulder of the hill the house is on. The verandah has a set of five steps that lead down to the garden.
The stairs inside double back on themselves and go upwards to the third level of the house, where all of the bedrooms, the bathroom, and the closets are. My room and my sister's room were the two at the front of the house, overlooking the driveway. My room was beside the stairs on the right, on the left was the spare room/study and directly in front of the stairs was my parents' room, the toilet and the bathroom, and a small hall that led to my sister's room. My parents room was directly above the rumpus room and had a window over the patio, which had one of those clear plastic roofs on it, so you could see anyone under it.
My sister and I spent most of our time in the rumpus room - it kept us out of our parents' way since it had the TV with cable and our old, enormous monolith of a computer. After a few months, my stepfather built a bird-house around the garden just outside the room with the bird of paradise plant, and we kept chickens and finches for a time. The rumpus room was always cold, and we figured it was because it was the one closest to the ground and next to the garage, which was laid with cement. My sister and I thought nothing of it, until we started seeing a woman outisde.
The first time it happened, my sister and I were watching TV and, as siblings will, we were fighting over what we were going to watch. I was a fairly stubborn, hard-headed and callous kid, so eventually my sister got fed up with me and stormed off to her room. I sat there, smugly flicking through the channels until what I wanted to watch started, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw something white move. I looked over, but saw nothing, and I figured it was the reflection of the afternoon sunlight on the white pillars and the tree at the back of the yard moving in some errant breeze.
I turned back to the TV and watched in peace for maybe ten minutes when I saw something white move again. Now, the sun had almost set by this time, and it had fallen behind the opposite side of the house, so there was no light on the pillars to reflect. I looked over and there, just beside the birdcage, was a young woman. She was watching the finches, which were all fluttering and darting back and forth in a panic, as they usually did when someone got too close to their cage. She had brown hair that was held back in a kind of twisted braid, and she had a coarse-looking white shawl about her shoulders. I couldn't make out the lower half of her body for the top of a couch blocking it, so I jumped up and walked around it to see her better, but by the time I got there she had moved around the cage and I couldn't make her out.
The large doors in the rumpus room were old and poorly maintained, and they were hard to open, so I went through the laundry instead to go outside and find out why she was in my garden (ballsy for a twelve year-old). But when I got to a spot where I should have been able to see her, no one was there. I was really confused, since to get in or out of our yard you would either have to go through the house, jump the enormous fence (all sides of which were shared with neighbours) or go through a singular side gate which had a rusted latch that squealed when opened. There was no place to hide, and when I looked around the yard was completely empty. I retreated back to the house, and after a bit of trepidation and locking all of the doors that I could, I drew the curtains in the rumpus and went on watching TV.
After this first time, the woman made herself known fairly frequently. My sister would see her out of the corner of her eye when we were watching TV, we would see her from the kitchen window, from the verandah, and even my mother thought she saw her from her bedroom window once. But every time someone tried to get a better look at her from a different angle, she would change places; and when we went outside to see her she would mysteriously disappear. The longer we lived there, the more we realised her influence on the house. While we never saw her inside, we would feel cold areas in the house - most commonly in the rumpus beside the computer (which was next to the big door to outisde), but also next to my sister's piano in the sitting room, on the stairs, and in the corner of the verandah. If you went into the kitchen at night, or the near the birdcage in the afternoon, you would feel watched and terrified, like she was standing right in front of you.
After a little while, my step-father decided to start renovating the house. The lady in the garden certainly didn't take well to this, and as his projects got progressively more drastic the more she seemed to lash out against him. His first project was to move the walls of the master bedroom to make it big enough to accommodate an en suite. His tools would go missing overnight and reappear somewhere else in the house, and everyone would deny moving them. Then he started re-laying tiles and the tiles would start breaking sporadically after he laid them (and he's no shoddy DIY-er, he's the quintessential Jack of All Trades, so there's no way he was just doing it wrong).
After that, she seemed determined to dislike all of us. Glasses would fall from the bench and shatter when they were placed well out of harm's way, footsteps could be heard on the stairs at night, and then, when my stepfather was relaying the roofing of the verandah, he suddenly took a horrible one and a half storey fall and landed on his back. To this day, he insists that he was safely away from the edge. He had stood up to move around the another side of a plastic panel, and when he was about to step he suddenly lunged forward and stumbled off the edge - he says it was as if he was pushed, but he refuses to believe such a thing. My mother, sister and I were all in the kitchen at the time and watched in horror as he went sailing passed the window. While he survived with very little harm (he only completely screwed up his back) he had to postpone any other modifications to the house until he was better, and remained seat-bound for almost five months after.
Things continued as "normal" after that - glasses smashing, footsteps on the stairs, etc., - until we decided to move out of the house in favour of a place that suited my parents more. It was then that my stepfather decided to improve the value of the house by including a theatre as a fourth level to the house - below the dining room/sitting room and to the left of the garage door. As it neared completion, our finches started dying inexplicably. Our original finches were long gone - being small birds - but had left a one-hundred strong brood behind them, all too young to be dying "naturally".
Then, at night, my parents would hear an almighty roaring sound outside. My mother would describe it as being like the roar of a lion mixed with the vacuous bellowing of a cyclone, and it would scare her into hysterics (a difficult task, believe me). There would be times when it sounded like it was right outside her window, and sometimes it would sound like it was on the far side of the yard, and always it was followed by a thunderous slamming on the roof that would wake everyone in the house up. My parents tried to dismiss the noises as those of possums, but if those were possums then I'm a drop bear.
As far as we could tell, the neighbours never heard or saw a thing - at night or during the day. We moved out of there pretty quickly after that, and have never experienced anything like it since. We never found out the history of the house - it was fairly new and my parents refused to believe something was in there with us. The land did once belong to a wealthy family who originally settled the area, and the family has an awful history, so possibly it was one of their spirits. Whoever it was though, she certainly wasn't nice.