As I said in my previous story (Spooky Neighborhood), for a number of years I lived in an area that was once part of the grounds attached to the old Fayetteville Arsenal.
The very first place I lived in that neighborhood was in a house dating back to the 1920's, which my first husband and I purchased while I was pregnant with my younger son.
Now, like most neighborhoods, this one has had its share of good and bad times. Just now it's on the upswing, but when we moved there, it was kind of rough--my other half wanted the house because a) it had 2 stories and b) it had a fireplace.
One thing about the street this house is on that may or may not mean anything is that directly across from our house was a place that had once been occupied by one Helena Stoeckley, who was a figure in the infamous Jeffrey MacDonald murder case--the book and film "Fatal Vision" were based on this true crime. Since poor Ms. Stoeckley was a serious abuser of drugs, you can guess the reason why it was, in the '60's, dubbed "Haight-Ashbury East" by the locals.
I protested, saying that the neighborhood was not of the best, and my other half said that he'd grown up in a bad neighborhood and he'd turned out all right. I told him that most people usually want better for their children than what they had, and, that said, we made the purchase and moved in. This proved fatal to my marriage and close to being so for me personally.
Almost immediately after we moved in, I was standing at the kitchen sink (in all my third-trimester glory) one afternoon and saw what I thought was my husband in the dining room. Of course, it wasn't--he was on Fort Bragg at the time. That was something which was to occur again and again--the seeing things that weren't there kind of thing, the shadows from the corner of the eye, etc.
The years I lived there were not the best--there were a few bright spots (such as the birth of my younger son), but within two years of moving in my husband decided that the marriage and fatherhood thing wasn't for him and left me with a 16-month old toddler and a 7-year-old with autism--and a house that needed massive repairs in a neighborhood about as peaceful and serene as your average demilitarized zone.
My older son has always been something of an empath--maybe it's partially due to his condition--but for a very long time--well over a year--every night, without fail, he would go to bed willingly enough then cry for an hour or so. He was never able to tell me why (at this stage his speech was still rather limited). I can only describe the nature of the weeping as being as if he was grieving over the state of the world in general; one time it occurred during the day and all I could get out of him were the words, "I feel very sad, dear..." One of his first lucid sentences, I must add.
As my younger son grew older, he had recurring dreams in which he would be sitting cross-legged in our kitchen, looking up at a woman in a long dress whose face he couldn't see.
While living there, we survived a fire and several break-ins, mostly when we were out, but the final two resulted in my being raped during the next to the last one and, almost a year to the day later, being nearly murdered. It was almost as if the house was cursed or a bad luck token or just plain didn't like us. It was then I took the hint and we got out of there--while in the hospital recuperating from the wounds that had come close to killing me, a dear friend came to see me and I remember saying (I was still kind of sedated) to him, "You know, Charles, I really think I ought to move out of there..." His reply was, "My dear, if you weren't talking this way I think I'd have to go burn it down!"
Funny, but even though life didn't immediately get better after I did that, it certainly led me on to better things--including the man to whom I've been happily married for over twelve years.
Maybe the song is right--"you've got to go through hell before you get to heaven..."