In 1976 my grandparents moved their family to the middle of nowhere, about an hour's drive to the nearest town in northeast Colorado. Mom was 16 and very unhappy about the move. She moved out as soon as high school was over, married dad and went on her merry way. She said the Atwood house gave her the creeps and she couldn't wait to get out of there. Grandma and grandpa (still living) didn't make the move to town until maybe 2005 or so, when grandpa sold all his farmland and cattle.
When they moved to town, their house didn't have the same 'vibe' as the country house, which I thought was strange. It was just a normal house with them in it. I started thinking about the house in the country and suddenly I'm filled with quite a lot of questions about it.
The feeling of the Atwood house was unique. Every summer we would drive to Colorado and see dad's parents in the mountains, and mom's parents on the prairie. As soon as we would make the turn and the country house was in view, my stomach would knot up and drop and I would get the shakes. I always put it down to the excitement of seeing them, although even after a week of being there, the same thing would happen every time we drove around that corner (no matter if dad, grandpa or a cousin was driving whatever vehicle). A feeling of unfathomable loneliness permeated the entire place. I just figured it was my grandparents, but now I think it was something else altogether.
When they moved in, it was a three room house, very small, very old. Grandpa and my uncle knocked out the east and west walls of the house and put a huge kitchen on the west end and another living room in the east end, three steps down. There was no division between any of the three big rooms, so it was like a long rectangle divided by carpet and three stairs. Grandpa had finished one basement but didn't finish the old storm cellar (once outside the house, now inside). I got about halfway down the old cellar steps one time looking for grandma, thought I saw a skeleton doing laundry and ran back into the kitchen terrified. I think I tripped on the way up but it felt like a push. Never went down there again, although we always played in the new finished basement on the other side of the house.
It was the feel of the place that got to me most, and it was everywhere on that property. When I was sitting at the kitchen table looking out at the prairie, I would get so sad I'd burst into tears, when I was looking out the windows of the living room to the corn fields again, just sadness. Even going outside to swing or help hang out the laundry or burn the trash, the wind through the trees would just fill me with a feeling of despair. This didn't happen at my aunt's house (down the road) or at my uncle's house (down the road and around the corner), just there, although both said weird stuff happened at their houses too.
My mom and I lived in a little house next to grandma's when I was very little and dad was working in another town. I don't remember the house, but I do remember weird dreams of skeletons walking me through the cornfields across the dirt road so I could get a better view of the trees blowing in the wind by the ditch. Still gives me the creeps thinking about that. Grandpa tore down the house a little later, the snakes would get into the pipes and hide in the toilets.
The only time I ever saw anything odd was when I was older. We were all bunked down in the old part of the house (the middle) on the pull out couch. The front door (no one used) was across from me, and the kitchen sink was just to the left of that, its light on all night so grandpa wouldn't run into anything when he left to check on the birthing cows. A dark shadow formed right inside the front door and stood there. It was right where the kitchen light shown, and it hadn't been there a moment before. Seemed masculine, I watched it for a bit and it seemed to nod. It wouldn't move into the 'new' area of the house, but stayed in the 'old' section.
I'm wondering if more things didn't happen that no one mentioned - the few things I heard over the years were pretty odd. Grandpa once he told me he and his brother-in-law chased a ball of light through the fields; grandma went MIA for an hour when a bright light enveloped her on a walk to the 'big tree' one morning at 5am; my uncle has had flashing lights wake he and his second wife up in the middle of the night and followed them around the house, etc. Just a lot of weird stuff out there.
Don't know what happened to grandma. She mentioned a light took her once about 15 years ago walking to the 'big tree' and went mute on the subject. 'Big tree' in quotes because all the trees around there are the same size. No one knows what one she was talking about. She did quit walking outside at 5am though. She and grandpa were teachers, include the farm and cattle, and the house was pretty empty most of the time.
I always got the feeling of being a Native American running. I just wanted to go out the screen door and run and run and run and not ever come back. Run away from the 'little house on the prairie' scene and keep on running. I'm wondering if a settler took an unwilling wife and they're still trying to come to terms with each other, I have no idea.
My sister went to see my grandparents this summer. On the way to my uncle's house, she drove by the old Atwood place. They had cut down every single tree on the property. In the yard, in the ditch, around the barns, every single one. It looked even lonelier than before.