The Milkmaid

Several years ago while I was still in high school, I went on a tour of France with a student group. Our stay included a several week stay with a French family.

The family that I stayed with had a lovely apartment in the city, and a country home several hours away. One weekend, we drove out to the country home, which was an old farmhouse with a barn. The house was fairly small, and only had two bedrooms, and since there were three children in the family, there were no beds available for me. The house was modestly furnished, and didn’t have a couch or anything for me to sleep on, but I was informed that there was a very nice guest room in the barn that I could use. It was a small stone room furnished only with a bed directly in front of the doorway, a wooden chair, and a nightstand with a small lamp.

The weather during the day was sunny and warm, but that evening the sky turned gray and it began to rain. When the time came to go to bed, I said my goodnights, and I went to the barn to get settled. During the day, the room was nice enough, but at night, it was pitch black and eerily quiet. I read a book for a little while, and then turned out the light to go to sleep. Some hours later, I was awakened by a violent thunderstorm outside. I am not sure what time it was, as there was no digital clock in the room, and it was far too dark to read my watch that was sitting on the nightstand, but I suspect that it must’ve been about two or three o’clock in the morning. The old wooden door and the windows all rattled with each clap of thunder, and the flashes of lightening lit up the whole room. I laid there for some time debating whether I wanted to get up to go to the bathroom. That was around the other side of the barn, but there was no way to get there without going outside into the storm. I decided that it wasn’t worth the effort, and tried to go back to sleep.

Suddenly, the door flung open, and a young woman dressed in a red dress and white peasant shirt came running into the room. She was carrying a candle, and it lit up the area around her enough so that I could see her face. She stood there in the doorway for a moment, looking frightened and confused. In terror, I rolled over and fumbled for the lamp that was in a corner that the light of her candle did not reach. I finally found the knob, switched it on and rolled back over to look at this person who had just burst into the room. She was gone and the door was closed, and everything seemed to be just as it should’ve been.

Needless to say, I stayed awake with the light on for the rest of the night. By morning, I had myself almost convinced that it was just a dream. That is until I got up and saw the wet footprints at the end of the bedů

Submitted by Jen, Maine, USA