As a little girl, I used to sometimes see and feel things that I thought everyone else did, too. Only as I grew older did I learn that even if many people did share these experiences, not many spoke of it. Unfortunately, I also began to learn to doubt my perceptions. That is, until I moved into a big old rental house with two friends in the late summer of 1992.
Things started out normally enough. We were all in our early twenties and very thrilled at the idea of having our own place. I took a small, but sunny front bedroom across the hall from my closest friend, Chuck. But aside from bedroom furnishings, I didn't help decorate the rest of the house. After all, I was the only girl in a house full of guys, and I didn't relish the idea of all my stuff getting ruined by dirty shoes and tossed basketballs. In retrospect, it is obvious why my room became the only place in the house where I felt "safe." We all three got along great at first. Chuck and I had been best friends for six years and the other young man, Josh, was a good hearted and generally sweet guy. But for some reason, we all started to feel a little paranoid about each other. And then Chuck told me that he was having trouble sleeping (not a usual problem for him) and that he kept waking during the night, full of panic. There were no unusual problems going on in our lives to account for the odd aura of disquiet that was descending on us, either.
I worked morning shifts, as did Chuck, but I was always the first one home in the afternoon. Walking up to the front door soon began to take on a dreamlike quality. Like going underwater. And then the bursts of violence began. Little things, like me suddenly losing control and pushing Josh when I got angry with him one evening. And Chuck, who is and was, a very level headed and stable person, suddenly refusing to talk to me over a trivial disagreement. And Josh started to be mean and inconsiderate, which also wasn't how he had been before. All these things could be attributed to us being young and silly and to too much beer. But it seemed that everything that happened in that house took on a menacing air. Every party began to include some ugliness. Every nap in the afternoon included a nightmare. The rifts between us all grew increasingly wide. And this was just the first two months! I stopped going into the kitchen except when other people were home, and even wrote a short protection prayer over my bedroom door, which I kept closed most of the time. It felt "bad" in that house, and we were beginning to feel bad, too.
One afternoon, I was upstairs enjoying the sunny day and reading. It was very quiet in the house. I heard someone run up to the door (my bedroom was over the front porch and I always heard when someone was alighting the porch). I heard the door open and slam closed and heavy footsteps crossing the entry hall. I also heard low voices. I ran out of my room to greet who I thought to be Chuck arriving home from work. When I got to the top of the stairs, though, I stopped and I remember the smile dying on my lips. I called out Chuck's name. All the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck were standing. No one answered me. I went down to the first landing again and called out to Chuck. Again, no answer. I peeked around the corner so that the entryway was in my full view. There was only silence and dustmotes suspended in unmoving air to greet me. I was frozen and terrified. I turned and flew back into my room, slamming my bedroom door behind me. When Chuck arrived home awhile later, I was near tears with relief.
The sounds from downstairs didn't stop there. I started to hear voices coming from the front room and dining room area often. Once something called my name. And I even began announcing that I was home when I would get inside the front door, asking loudly that nothing happen once I got the door closed. Secretly, I "blessed" Chuck and my rooms with burning sage and prayers. I was beginning to feel that there were competing forces there and that the good side wouldn't mind a little help. I also took to keeping my bedroom window open at all times, so the sounds of the outside world would keep me sane. I didn't talk about what I felt much, only a bit with Chuck, although the strain of it and the changes in all of our personalities was showing. We all started drinking too much in the evenings, as if without the aid of alcohol we could get no rest, and truth be told, that was probably the truth. People who spent much time in the house with us began acting "off," too. Honest and honorable people started talking of cheating on long time partners, best friends started savage arguments, and romantic relationships took dark and ugly turns.
When we moved, after only six months in the house, I didn't even look back. Only afterwards, in a more normal atmosphere, was I able to wonder what had happened there. Was it just youth and partying and stupidity that made otherwise sane folks behave in such awful ways? Or was something in that house able to bring out the darkness that lies in everyone. Was something there feeding on us? On our anger, our fear, our waknesses? If only I had trusted my feeling back then, could we have talked about it, maybe making ourselves more powerful in unity?
Chuck and I grew closer than ever after that, all that occurred forgiven, as is the case with wonderful friends. We moved into another house together later on and lived together quite happily for almost four years, until his girlfriend and he decided to get their own place. And I now live with my fiance in another house, and my life remains peaceful, and thankfully, untainted by anything that even remotely resembles a menacing presence. And when Chuck comes over for dinner, we don't talk about it. And we like it like that. Sweet dreams, all, and if they are not sweet, believe what you feel, because it could be a warning.