I was 3 when we first moved in our new house (I'm 27 now). It wasn't an old house; the subdivision was new. Every single house was newly built, each looks the same (as with any low-cost housing places here in the Philippines). But at the time, only three families lived on our street, the other houses empty.
The first scare that I had was when I was 6. It was nighttime, and I was singing with my face plastered on the window glass (I liked to make faces on the glass), with my cousin laughing at me while she was sitting on my right side. We were in the middle of our playing until this impossibly pale, white hand stained with wet soil and patches of green (like moss growing on rock) grabbed at one of the metal bars on the window (we added those for protection against burglars). Instinctively I pushed myself away from the window, but kept staring at the hand, slowly inching away from the window without taking my eyes off it. In my peripheral vision, my cousin was frozen in place, clutching at her Rainbow Brite doll (or was it Little Twin Stars? I can't really remember).
When it finally let go of the railing my cousin and I screamed, and we ran towards the living room. We found mom and my aunt watching TV, and they looked over at us sternly, because we were noisy. When I was a kid I was afraid of mom, so I knew better and kept my mouth shut. However, my cousin was already tugging at my aunt's blouse and she's trying to describe what we saw. Mom said in a stern voice, "You girls better quit that right now, or I will let you sleep outside with the dog. We told you to go to sleep. It came for you because you don't obey your parents." We went to bed without question and covered ourselves with blankets, afraid it might come for us again.
After a few days, we suddenly had snakes (yes, real, live snakes) inside the house and in the yard. We didn't have men in the house, so we called the village guard to kill it for us. The next day, we had a whole army of ants crawling all over the house. Interestingly though, they were unlike any group of ants - they didn't destroy anything. Of course, there are the occasional dead ants on the toilet bowl water, but other than that, they didn't destroy anything - which is weird; because an army of ants will eat everything it can chew on if it's in their path.
More days passed after that incident. I finally got over the fear of the hand, but deep inside I knew it wasn't just mom summoning something to scare us. That afternoon, while I was playing with my neighbors, a neighbor's maid (can't remember who) suddenly screamed and we stopped in our tracks, not moving, just looking at the general direction of the voice. The adults went out of the house, and the dads went into the house where they heard the scream to investigate. My friends' mom told us to get inside their house's gate and stay in the yard.
After a few minutes, we learned that they discovered a part of a dismembered body in the huge empty lot behind our neighbor's house (I'm not going to give out the case name since our village was on the news, and I'm sure no one would appreciate any more unwanted attention). And guess what body part it was?
I felt all the hairs in my body stand on end as I suddenly remembered that night, in vivid detail, the hand clutching tightly on the metal bar by my bedroom window. My friend's mom probably noticed how pale I was, so she held me with my head on her tummy and she reprimanded the grownups who were talking out loud about it.
Soon, police were swarming the area, with gadgets in their gloved hands. A few more minutes, a few people from media were in our village, huge cameras dangling from a cord around their necks and notebooks in hand.
I couldn't go home that night. Even our maid didn't want to be alone inside the house, so we stayed outside for a long time until finally deciding to go home, because mom will be home from work soon and she needs to get dinner prepared, while I need to do my homework. I usually do my homework in my room, but at that time, that was out of the question.
A few years passed. If I remember correctly, I was 8 or 9 years old at that time. My aunt had a fight with her husband and she needed to spend the night with us. Our maid agreed to let my aunt sleep in her room for the night, and she will just share the bed with me.
That night, we were sleeping in the room when I was woken up by a scream. It was our maid. Of course it scared the hell out of me, and I ran to her side. She was looking out the window.
We saw a shadow of a hand waving at us behind the curtain. And as soon as I saw it, it was gone.
I wouldn't deny the fact that every hair on my body stood on end, and I was still staring at the window in disbelief, half-expecting that the hand would come back and smash through the window and kill both of us. It didn't help that I remembered that dismembered hand of the lady they found a few years back, and her vengeful spirit might be coming back to kill us.
But it never happened.
After a while, my mom and sister came into the room, asking what the scream was about and what happened. We told our story, and mom acknowledged it, but didn't dwell on it. She just told us to ignore it.
Even more years passed. I was in college. A lot of things had happened, and this was the time when I finally found my long lost father (yes, he went away and was never heard of until I was 17).
One night, I was so tired that I just passed out in my room, still in my school uniform. Then I had a dream. There was this girl, in a beautiful, white bridal gown, her left hand on her side and her right was holding a bouquet of flowers. However, she was lying in some sort of flower box, and she looked very much like a mummified body in a gown (withered, bony skin). In my dream, that flower box was right outside my window. So I looked over the window and I saw my dad crying by her feet, and he had his hand on one of her shoes. I asked, "Dad, why are you crying?" He cried even louder, then I looked over to the bouquet and I notice the lady's hand move, as if she was stretching the fingers holding the bouquet. He called to me. "No, no, don't go with her, don't go with her!"
Suddenly her left hand stretched up and tried to reach for me, and my ear was filled with deafening hissing sounds, like the sound of a thousand snakes hissing all at the same time.
Ironically, I did something that I didn't even expect, even in my dream. I flipped her the finger and said, "F*** you, I won't go with you!"
I woke up covered in sweat, my hands clenched in fists, and my body tense. I admit I was so scared, but at the same time I was laughing at myself for actually saying something like that in my dream. I immediately looked at my window, and at that time, I was tired of getting scared all the time, so I spoke.
"Come out, if you want to come out. I'm tired of you. If you have something to settle, then let's settle it now. I've put up with you for long enough. If you've got problems, don't bother us because your problem is yours. I don't know what exactly happened to you, and I'm sorry it happened to you, but don't you think it's unfair to scare people just because you're miserable? If you want to live here, then you're welcome in the house. Just stop scaring us."
But nothing came out. The night was still, and all I could hear was the slight buzzing of city life.
That was the last time I ever saw that hand.
I graduated from college and got a great job, and my sister gave birth to a cute little girl. After a few years my sister and I was able to raise a budget to reconstruct the house to add more space for our growing family. When we had the house reconstructed, my room was converted into a kitchen and I was relocated to the second floor. However, we still could hear noises in the kitchen every now and then (and this still happens now). Whenever it's time to eat, we could hear the fridge door open and close and the drawers open as if someone is in the kitchen. I would usually just say "come, let's eat" whenever I hear it. Sometimes, when we're boiling water, the kettle whistles when it boils so we usually go to the kitchen to turn the stove off. There are a few times that the stove turns off by itself because the whistling stops before we could get there. Also, when my niece was 3, there was a time that she looked towards the empty kitchen and asked "Auntie, is she your friend?" I just said yes. Sometimes, when my niece is in my mom's room (it's right next to the kitchen), she laughs by herself; and when asked, she said she was playing with her "friend".
Then, something more amazing happened.
It was a little past noon, and I was at work. I received a call from our neighbors that there was a wildfire in our area. I was so worried because there was no one at home at the time! I didn't even ask for permission to go home from my boss - I just ran out of the building, started the car and drove like hell to reach home as soon as I can. I was calling my sister, but she wasn't picking up because she was on a vacation with her little girl and my mom.
Arriving at the general area I could see black, acrid smoke rising in the air. I was in tears; everything that we have worked for cannot just burn like that!
As I drove along the street I could see houses partially burnt. Good thing that they had someone at home to put the fire out. I had that sinking feeling in my heart at the time, and I was ready to accept the fact that everything we own are now gone.
I pulled over, breathing deeply to prepare myself to what I would see. When I finally looked up...
The house was unscathed! There was water dripping from the roof, and the ground was wet like there was some sort of heavy rain; but the hose was neatly coiled in the corner. I could not describe the kind of relief I had that day! I went to my neighbors' houses and thanked them for taking care of my house, and extended my sympathy on the damages their house had sustained. They were looking at me odd and said "We didn't have to touch your house. Your maid was already spraying water all over, so we just minded our own."
I stared at them for the longest time. Our maid left since I was 12. We didn't have a maid ever since.
I could only think of one person.
I turned the keys and entered the house, my head low, and I walked straight into the kitchen and just stood there. I was looking around, knowing that I know she's there, and she's listening.
"Hey," I called out, "I know it was you."
It was silent. All I could hear was the chattering of my neighbors outside, and I leaned on the sink and spoke again.
As if to respond to me, the fridge door opened. I admit I was still scared when it happened, but I calmed myself down and accepted her offer. I took some orange juice and bread, and took it to the dining table and just said "let's eat!"
After that incident, I finally got through my mom's mobile phone and I told her what happened. She laughed and said "I know you were telling the truth way back then. I just didn't want you to be scared of them. It's like seeing an ugly person and get scared...it's rude, and it hurts their feelings. Try to treat them nicely and look at what they do for us."
When they got home, my sister admitted she also saw the things I was seeing, and so did my mom. We talked about our experiences, and laughed at ourselves on our reactions.
From then on, we are living with our "friend" at home. Nowadays, she rarely disturbs anyone like she did before, but we know her presence is there, always guarding, always watching. She didn't have a name, so we kind of looked into the case of the severed hand and gave a fitting name, "Lucy".
So, from that point on, our family fondly calls her "Ate Lucy" (older sister Lucy).