I Remember

When I was about 9 years old my grandparents bought a house on a saltwater creek. They were ready to retire from the motel they owned and ran for 20 years. My parents and all of us moved into the motel and took over running it. But this isn't about that living-in-a-motel chapter of my life. This is about the creekhouse (Cue ominous music).

The house was really cool because it was big and sunny and had a dock that we could crab and fish off of or run and jump from. My grandparents moved into the mostly furnished place, settled into the easy living and had all of us grand kids spend the night often.

As a 9 year old I loved the mirrored wallpaper in the stairwell and the wall of mirrors in my grandmothers room. Super tacky, I know, but that was my taste back then.

It was built like the beach houses around here, up on stilts to protect it from the inevitable flooding that happens in hurricane season. Upstairs was the main living area, my grandma and grandpa's bedroom (two separate rooms) the living room, sun-room, kitchen, dining room and a bathroom. There was a front porch and a back porch that ran the length of the house. Downstairs was a foyer and two bedrooms with a bath in between and a large rec room that was built below the sun room upstairs. The rec room was unfinished. I think it had concrete floors with finished walls and windows.

The reason I am giving all the details of the layout is so you can get a visual picture of what I'm about to tell you. It is one of the weirdest and creepiest times in my life.

My oldest sister, who was in college at the time, lived with my grandparents in the larger of the downstairs bedrooms. Her room had it's own entrance that opened on to the carport. She left early in the morning to make the commute to college.

The other downstairs bedroom was tiny with two twin beds. That is where my siblings and I and my cousins would stay when we spent the weekend with my grandparents. At night we would lay on the thin, textured bedspread and play beauty shop or read or make up games until it was time to go to sleep.

I don't know what order the following incidents happened in, it's been too long to keep that straight but the rest of the details are burnished on my memory forever.

Creepy example A: I remember sleeping in the room with my cousin or maybe my brother and waking up to see a dark figure at the end of the bed. I blinked several times to clear my eyes/mind of what I thought might be a dream and yet there he still stood. Taller than any of us kids and not my grandfather. No face, no details, just a man-shaped shadow. In horror, I closed my eyes and ran out of the room and up the stairs and dove into my grandma's bed. In the morning, she assured me that I must have been dreaming.

Creepy example B: We, those of us sleeping downstairs, would always hear someone on the stairs or in the kitchen at night. My grandparents were heavy sleepers and not likely to get up to make snacks at 3 or 4 am when the noises occurred. I hate how cliche this sounds but that's how it was, footsteps on the stairs and cabinets and drawers opening and closing above our heads where the kitchen was. Once I went to check on who was up and moving around and found my grandparents deeply asleep moments after hearing the banging in the kitchen.

Creepy example C: When we would play marathon games of Monopoly in the rec room if always felt like a cold, ominous, creepy, unfriendly place. I would try to break away and go back upstairs to be with my grandma but my brother and cousins would tease me about being a chicken. Still, I never lasted long before I made the dash, getting through my sister's room to get to the stairs was best done at a full run. Not very solid evidence but I still remember that feeling.

Creepy example D: My sister, who was a notorious over-sleeper was supposed to be awake, dressed and ready to go when her friend, A, got there to ride to school in the mornings. A, would have to bang and bang on the door to get my sister up (remember the days before cellphones). Hearing the banging, my sister would snap awake, jump out of bed, unlock the door at a run to get to the bathroom and quickly get ready. A, would come in pissed that they were going to be late again. This happened many, many times. One time I spent the night, and heard my sister get up on time in the morning to start getting ready in the little bathroom. I then heard A start talking loudly from the other room and my sister, who was surprised that A had come in, ask what was wrong. When A saw that my sister was fully dressed and nearly ready she was quite shocked. Her impression had been that D had overslept again and made the mad dash for the lock and bathroom as usual. My sister said no, that she hadn't even heard her knock. A then said she had banged once, heard the lock turn and the door open. By that time, I had heard all the commotion and came into the room. My sister, A and I all exchanged looks like something out of the Hardee Boys, completely befuddled about how the door unlocked and let A in.

Creepy example E: This memory is a little more fuzzy. I think I was so freaked out and many other people were there to witness it that I let the details slip. I don't remember how it started but my sister was in her room trying to iron some clothes. The overhead light was on. She must have shouted for us because my grandmother, mom, and I ended up in her room. At that time, I was really into recording my family with my huge jambox and a cassette tape. My grandmother hated it and would fuss at me to stop. Anyway, I was recording what happened next.

My sister said her tv came on and the overhead light went off. The tv was glowing blue right in the center of the screen. When she went to flick the light switch for the overhead light the tv would come on and off. When she turned the tv on the light came on. We stood there watching her do it. I recorded the voices of my mom and grandmother exclaiming over what was happening. Of course, being a silly kid, I later recorded over that tape- probably some stupid 80's music off the radio. I have thought about that tape a lot because not long after my grandma got in a carwreck and was very sick. I wish I could still hear her voice.

So all this added up to all of us feeling really freaked out in that house.

My grandparents got in a car wreck sometime later and we moved them into the motel with us to take care of my very sick grandmother. The creekhouse sat abandoned for a year or more. Creepy example F: One day we drove down to check on it, I think we were going to sell it, and we walked through the house. Everything was fine, nothing was amiss upstairs or on the property. When I checked on the bedroom I had slept in, I saw the neatly made up bed held an impression like someone had been laying on the bed. No one had been to that house in over a year. If someone had broken in there was no evidence.

And lastly, the house was sold. My grandmother died. My parents continued to take care of the motel and my grandfather. Creepy example G: We later learned that the man who bought the house had died in a freak hunting accident a short time after he purchased it.

Cue the closing creepy music: I have never been back.

PS: Do I believe in ghosts? My husband scoffs at the idea and I am not sure. I know I have these memories and how real the feeling of being scared/being watched were.  I don't know what I believe. Weird, creepy shit happens for unknown reasons. I guess.

PSS: I shoulda attached a clip that has the crazy ghost/zombie image pop up on the screen to scare you but I am not that cruel.

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