The house seemed to come alive at night and not just because it sat next to a railroad tracks. The trains seemed to stir something within it. No wonder my cousin, Sally, and her family seldom talked about it.
As a child, I spent a lot of time at their house. At first I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. We were too busy being silly kids playing together and having a good time. But I overheard my mother and my aunt whispering in the kitchen one day, "Jennie, I heard it again last night, but when I went upstairs, nothing was there." My mother said, "Louise, it's probably the trains rattling the walls." "I'm not so sure about that," my aunt said.
Later that night, as Sally and I lay in bed, I felt my heart begin to race. I couldn't see very well in the dim night light she kept on her dresser, but I felt a cold chill and heard footsteps on the stairs. Sally was sound asleep and I figured it was my aunt coming to check on us. Straining to see her peek into the room, my eyes tried to focus and then I saw it. The door of the closet slowly opened and there was no one there. I watched as the chair Sally had propped against the door slid on the cold linoleum floor. Just about that time I could hear the whistle of the train as it approached the crossing and the house began to rock. But the closet door opened BEFORE the train went by. What had just happened? I shivered under the covers and tried not to wake Sally. She would think I made the whole thing up.
The next morning I woke at daylight to find the door still standing open. I had to ask her about it and when I did I got the shock of my life. Yes, it did that all the time and a lot more, my cousin said. Not only that but she felt it was a woman. She had seen the shadow of her enter her room and come stand by her bed. She trembled while she talked, but finally said, "Don't worry; I don't think it will hurt us."
When I asked Mom about it, she said things happen when you live where they do and forget about it. I did until one afternoon when my Uncle Dutch, Sally, her brother, Sonny, and my brother, Tim, and I were in the living room getting ready to watch a movie on TV. Suddenly, we heard footsteps overhead and a screeching on the floor. What ever it was came from Sally's room. We all looked at each other and no one said a word. There was no train coming this time.
Finally my uncle said, "I'll go up and check." He opened the door and walked up the stairs. We didn't want him to go, what if he didn't come back and we were alone in the house? We may have been kids but we knew something wasn't right. He came back down, pale and his eyes filled with disbelief. The closet door was standing wide open. It got worse after that.
It seems a few days later my aunt heard something upstairs and went up only to be knocked part way down the steps. Aunt Lou said she just slipped but we all knew better. Later, she said, while attending to the scrape on her arm, something shoved her and she didn't see anyone. Things were getting out of control.
Then my cousin, Sonny, woke up during the night to see a woman dressed in what appeared to be a long flowing white dress walk past his bed and through the attic door. He accused Sally of playing a trick on him, but she said she was asleep and wouldn't do that to him and besides, she didn't have a dress like that. No wonder they moved shortly after that. Unfortunately, whatever it was followed them to their new home in town.
Whenever we went to visit, I usually ended up staying the weekend and watching Chilly Billy, a TV show that featured scary movies, late on Saturday nights with Sally, her father and two brothers. Aunt Lou and my cousin, Greg, usually went to bed early. We had to get up early for church the next morning, but no one wanted to go upstairs to bed, especially after watching a horror movie. So we slept downstairs on the floor in front of the TV. For some reason nothing happened downstairs. I was glad.
I'll never forget the time my aunt walked into the living room and told us to be quiet on the stairs, we'd wake up Greg. We stared at her - no one had gone upstairs. There were other sounds, too, but no one could explain who or what was making them. After a while Sally, got really annoyed at their ghostly visitors and told them to go somewhere else, but they refused to leave.
Years later, Sally told me she went up to visit her mother and found things moved in her old bedroom, yet no one had been up there. My aunt, in failing health, slept downstairs. My aunt never did find the purple curtain tieback and neither did Sally.
The house by the tracks burnt down not too long after my cousin and her family moved out. When my aunt asked the people who bought the property and built another house if they noticed anything strange going on, they said yes, they did. Trains no longer run past the house, so that's no excuse. I just hope they have better luck there than Sally's family did.