808 1/2 Greenwood Ave.
When I was around eight, we had moved into a small house on Greenwood Ave. It sat behind another house which shared the same address as ours and since we sat farther back, we were the ½ part of 808 Greenwood.
It was a three-bedroom house with two rooms upstairs and one downstairs. My two older brothers, Keith and Karl, shared one of the upstairs bedrooms. I had the larger of the two rooms that everyone had to walk through to get to theirs. Our mother had the third bedroom downstairs next to the bathroom.
I hated my room. I hated the upstairs. It’s because of that house that I also hate closets. I’ve always been able to sense the presence of ghosts and spirits and have never liked it. Being eight, I was just honing that ability at the time and I absolutely sensed a ghost upstairs. I was fine with the downstairs part of the house, though. It was as if she, the spirit, didn’t ever go downstairs.
Whenever it was time to go to bed, I almost always gave my mother a hard time. It became a nightly ritual and fight to get me to sleep in my own bed. Sometimes I’d win and be allowed to sleep downstairs with my mother.
I would tell her about the lady upstairs, but she didn’t believe me. Either that, or she did believe me and didn’t want to scare me more so than I already was about my bedroom and the closet.
One afternoon, my brothers had a friend over, Tom Wagenhauser (I loved his name). They were upstairs in Keith and Karl’s room when all of a sudden they came running down the stairs sounding like a herd of elephants.
“There’s a woman talking through the walls,” Karl stated.
I sat up and paid attention. I knew it was her. My mother asked, “What did she say?”
“She just asked for help,” Karl answered. “It was soft and quiet-like. She sounded so sad.”
I tried to tell my mother again and was shut down. One day, Keith and his friend Russ, whom we called Goober, was upstairs. Keith had come downstairs, leaving Goober alone in the room. Not long after, Goober came barreling down the stairs with the same complaint as Karl and Tom Wagenhauser (I still love that name).
“Some woman was talking through the wall and asking me for help,” he insisted. “She was real quiet, but there is no one up there except me!”
At this point, I was terrified to be alone upstairs, which only caused a bigger fight between my mother and me to let me sleep with her. Just as determined as I was not to sleep upstairs, she became even more determined to make me, to prove to me there were no ghosts upstairs.
I started having terrible nightmares that my mother was going to die. I’d wake up crying. Several were of her burning up in a fire; another was of my mother falling off the bow of a ship as she reached down to retrieve something. Every dream about her seemed to be ominous and full of peril and every time I woke up, I felt like someone was standing there watching me sleep.
My brothers had moved my bed closer to the staircase so I, at least, had the light from the downstairs as a nightlight. It provided little comfort, but I was glad to have it.
One night, I lost another fight and after threats of severe beatings, I made my way to my bedroom. I made sure the closet door was shut and in place before crawling into bed. I managed to fall asleep only to wake up sometime later.
With the moonlight pouring into the room and the downstairs light, I had good sight. I glanced at the closet door which was now ajar. I was so mad because I knew my brothers had come home and left it open on purpose.
I went downstairs pretending to need the bathroom when, in reality, I was going to say something to Keith and Karl about the closet. However, they were not home yet and according to our mother, they were not due home for quite some time. So if not one of them, who opened the closet door?
“Use the bathroom and then go back upstairs,” she instructed and with warning added, “I am not going to fight with you again tonight.”
As I got back into bed, I noticed the silhouette of a woman’s head. The hair was curled up at the ends like the actress, Marlo Thomas, wore. The shadow remained perfectly still. So still, in fact, I thought it was the mannequin head that sat on the headboard of the bed, but there was no wig on it. There was no wig in the house that matched that hair-do, either.
I moved the mannequin head anyway and the shadow remained next to the bed. I closed the curtain to the window and the shadow remained. I darted downstairs and told my mother “she” was upstairs watching me. I was so terrified that when my mother got up to spank me, I stood right there.
“I’m not sleeping upstairs,” I insisted through my tears. “You can spank me, but I’m not going back upstairs.”
I don’t know if it was my consent to spanking me, the determination I had about not going back upstairs, or the terror that was clearly on my face, but for whatever reason, I never had to sleep upstairs again.