I hated it the moment I saw it. The floor in living room felt like a fun house. It leaned to the left, and the bedrooms, you could see the soil under the house! The floor boards were warped and huge gaps allowed damp dirt smells into the rooms.
The house was across the street from the elementary school, and it was tiny. My Mom and Dad had just gotten divorced, and we were on our own. My Mother, my brother, three sisters, and me all crammed into a little two bedroom, dilapidated place, haphazardly disguised as a house.
My sisters shared the one room with me, and my brother slept on the couch in the living room. Mom took the itsy bitsy closet sized room, behind the kitchen.
The house had an unnatural feel to it, but my Mother signed a one year lease, and we were stuck there. None of us wanted to go into the back yard. A huge fig tree was in the center and the ground was littered with all kinds of festering things.
The only good thing about this place was its close proximity to the school yard. At the least, we could run across to the playground there. My mother allowed us to do this, after school work was attended to, and our chores were done. We never wanted to be in the rental home. It felt cramped, it felt...wrong.
The first week we were there, the bugs found us. They came in through the gaps in the floor boards, and we felt them drop onto our beds in the dark. It was scary and disgusting. Mother bought a can of bug spray, and sprayed along the gaps, but the insects found other ways to get inside.
I took to sleeping with the covers over my head. The edges of my one blanket-would be tucked tightly around my body. I barely slept while living there.
After one exhausting night, I heard the cries coming from the back yard. It sounded like a small child whimpering in distress. Looking at my Mother and siblings, I saw that no one else was aware of the sobering sounds. The crying went on for around ten minutes. It was intermittent, but strong. I walked to the back door and looked out. Nothing-just the ugly fig tree looming over the yard.
I remember peeking out the windows on either side of the house. There were unoccupied office buildings on either side, but a small space separated the house from the buildings, I thought maybe a cat was trapped there?...but I didn't see any signs of a cat.
The sobbing and night cries intensified as the weeks went by, and I felt constantly tormented by the sorrowful sounds. I was afraid to tell anyone. Especially since the sounds only seemed to affect me.
One night, I got up out of bed. I sat on the back stoop overlooking the fig tree. I waited. I was tired of the sounds attacking my head and heart, and I needed to see who or what, was trying to get my attention. In the past, I pushed it away, but not tonight. I was tired it fighting it off. I felt ready for anything. My thirteen years on the planet, and I thought I knew what I was doing!
I was very quiet as I sat there. My mother's room was just on the other side, and her bedroom window overlooked this pitiful yard. I stayed out of sight, hidden in the darkness of the night. It was a cool evening, and winter would be here soon. I shivered in my pajamas and waited for something to happen.
The fig tree looked more ominous in the dark. It seemed to vibrate with an other worldly intent. I tried to adjust my sight to dark, but it was hard. The large branches of the tree were everywhere. This caused dark shadows to undulate within the darkness. I blinked a few times, trying to focus. Were my eyes playing tricks on me? It almost looked like the branches were moving in slow motion. I stood and raised an arm above my head. Had the wind picked up but I didn't feel so much as a breeze?
I wanted to enter the back yard and get closer to the fig tree, but I let fear in. Mistake!. When fear grabs hold of you, you become helpless, and I was frozen where I stood. Shivering in the dark, I tried to be brave and stick it out, but I was close to bolting into the safety of the house. The air felt bad. I had a metallic taste in my mouth, and my head started to hurt.
The first sounds made me jump. The crying had started again, and they were coming from the Fig Tree! Yes, the sound of a child crying... It was coming from the center of the tree. I could see more movement in the dark. The branches were silently shaking with each cry! By now, I was pretty terrified. Still, I couldn't move. I had to know what this was all about. I watched the scene play out.
This is what happened to me that night. As it always happens (I have the gift of second sight)... Everything started to fade away, and I saw the past. The scene unfolded in clarity, and I watched in awe.
As far as the eye could see-there was emptiness all around. No buildings, no people, just rolling hills and valleys. I saw the weary travellers coming over a hill, and they pitched a temporary tent where the Fig tree had stood. There were ten of them. Six men and four women. They looked dirty and dishevelled! The day turned into night, and they made a campfire. The women were thin, and drunkards. The men were no better. I don't know if these were travelling misfits in society, or running from the law. They were there, in the middle of nowhere, and they were well into the act of getting drunk. I couldn't really hear what they were saying, but I saw it all from my stoop.
One of the men was getting out of control, and words were said. Two other men stood up, and a brawl took place. It was a messy, drunken mess of bodies-rolling in the dust. The women were screaming and one of the younger gals, she looked around seventeen, she stood up with a gun. She sobbed and cried for them to stop, but they paid her no mind, and the punches flew all around. The girl got too close, and I saw the fist when it hit her in the temple.
She fell in slow motion. I saw her eyes take on a surprised look, and they went glassy. She hit the ground hard, her head bouncing off the ground with a dull thud. This seemed to stop the fighting among themselves and they all looked in disbelief- at the girl on the ground. One of the women ran over, and stooped down to touch the girl. Her screaming rang through my ears. That one blow to the temple had killed the girl.
The images before me were fading away, and I saw the backyard in the night. The Fig Tree was there again, and it was no longer moving. This tree was on the spot the girl died. Night after night, I had heard the cries of a child. In reality, it was the cries of the young woman, right before she died.
I remember going back in the house, and never stepping foot in the back yard again. We moved at the end of the lease. I didn't understand the reasons back then, but today-as an adult, I understand...
This is what they call a residual haunting:A memory in the landscape of a tragedy. The old house?...It was torn down long ago, and a small office building now sits where the house and the fig tree stood. As far as I know, no reports have surfaced over "Ghostly Cries"...