Betsy the Seldom-Seen Ghost
When I was 16, I stayed a week with my aunt and uncle, Doreen and Ted. It was a cool old place in the country with three stories and an apple orchard. The house had been in the family for ages. One afternoon during my stay, I came in from the back terrace where Doreen and I had been lounging and caught sight of someone crossing the hallway just ahead of me.
I called out my uncle’s name. “Hey, Ted.”
There was no response.
I was halfway down the hall when it struck me that it couldn’t have been Ted. He’d left for town earlier in the day to stock up on supplies and wouldn’t be back for at least another hour. Thinking there was an intruder in the house, I ran back outside and told Doreen.
She didn’t get up from her lawn chair. She just gave a little shrug and said, “No big deal.”
When I asked her if she was crazy, a small grin came across her face.
“That wasn’t an intruder,” she said. “That was Betsy.”
I asked her who Betsy was.
“She’s just a girl who lives in the house,” Doreen told me in a matter-of-fact tone. “We’re actually not sure what her name is, but Betsy seems to fit.”
I said, “What do you mean she lives in the house? Who is she?”
Doreen looked at me, and what she said next sent a chill up my spine. “She’s a ghost.”
I’d never known my aunt and uncle to be the types to buy into the supernatural, which is what made her words all the more frightening. She told me they saw her frequently, usually just out of the corner of their eyes, and that she rarely caused any trouble. Occasionally things would get moved around the house, but nothing serious. No missing keys or windows thrown open in the dead of winter or creepy-ass REDRUM warnings in lipstick on the bathroom mirror.
Betsy, as far as they knew, was harmless.
Docile was the word my aunt used, but there was something about that description that didn’t exactly ease my nerves. Probably because it’s a word I typically associate with animals, not people. Or their ghosts, for that matter.
My next encounter with Betsy cemented my suspicion that not all was as hunky dory as Doreen had tried to make it seem. It was late, and I was just settling into bed when the knocking sounds began.
They started as small, nearly inaudible taps coming from the wall of my room. I might have thought it was Doreen or Ted messing with me if there was anything on the other side of the wall, but the room was situated on an outer corner of the third floor of the house. Within seconds, the tapping had developed into a loud, steady, rhythmic knocking that seemed to come from everywhere at once.
That was enough for me. I jumped to my feet and started moving for the door, but something I saw in my periphery stopped me.
Someone was standing in the corner of the room between the bed and the closet.
In the dim moonlight coming in through the window, it looked like the outline of a girl with long hair to her shoulders.
I couldn’t make out any more detail and I didn’t want to. I bolted through the door and went screaming down the hall. The startled reaction of my aunt and uncle as I came flying into their bed would have been priceless if I’d been in the mood to laugh. I buried myself under the covers and refused to come out until morning.
The following day, I was still such a nervous wreck about it that I decided to leave for home early. Doreen and Ted were apologetic. They told me nothing that severe had ever happened before. I had no reason to believe they weren’t telling the truth. According to them, the spirit of a girl in her teens had been seen in the house for more than sixty years, but there was no record of anyone matching Betsy’s description ever having lived there in the past.
Needless to say, I’ve never gone back. Every so often when we talk on the phone, I’ll ask how Betsy’s doing. They always laugh and tell me she’s behaving herself. I’ll take their word for it.