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Her Name Was Ruth

March 2006

I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend Ivan. We lived on the second story, and our bathroom and kitchen windows faced the open walkway. So, if a neighbor walked by, they could see inside. The bathroom window was set inside of the shower.

It was late October and I was taking a shower one day, and had the window cracked to let the steam out. I had a feeling someone was watching me... so I turned to look out of the window and saw my next door neighbor, Ruth, peering in at me (she did this on more than one occasion). I asked her what she was doing, and asked her to leave until I was finished. I thought that was really odd that she would do that, since I hadn't known her long. We used to go on walks together and we both shared a passion for art, so we would have certain days were we would work on our projects together. She would tell me a little bit about her life during these times. She was a pharmacist going back to the local college to earn a few more credits. I was 19 at the time, and she was about 20 years older than me. She told me about a professor that she had. She was in love with him. She wrote him a letter explaining her feelings for him. She was rejected, harshly.

Halloween had just passed three days earlier and I hadn't seen Ruth for about 5 days. I thought nothing of it. On the third morning of November a pounding on the door woke my boyfriend and I. We both quickly got up to see what was going on. There were several police officers surrounding Ruth's door yelling for her to come out, with no response on her part. The manager of the building fumbled with the key to let them in. Ruth's college study partner was there with tears in her eyes. She walked over to us, and let us know that Ruth hasn't been to class in a few days, and she was worried. At that moment, an Officer came out and said she was dead. She had overdosed on some pills 3 days earlier.... which was Halloween. That was the first time I had experienced a friend dying.

In the months previous to this, Ruth had painted a beautiful picture for me. I had it framed and hung it on my wall. Her parents came up from Portland to clear out her things. They asked me if I wanted anything of hers... and I really didn't feel comfortable taking anything... I was still in mourning. Her parents didn't really seem to care that she was dead. When they left, they put two of Ruth's ferns outside of my door. They died within the week. Since that time, strange things started to occur. Every time I took a shower, it felt like someone was watching me.

In December, my friend, Teri and I were cleaning the apartment in preparation of my birthday party. Teri was on one side of my bedroom, looking over at me. I was in the corner next to the closet trying to lift Ivan's barbell off of the floor. In the corner was a small TV sitting on a bookshelf. I was directly in front of this bookshelf. Teri had a strange look on her face. She kept staring at the closet. She told me something was wrong with the closet. I asked her what she meant by that, and she said that it looked blurry to her, something just wasn't right about it. Right as I bent over to pick this barbell up, Teri screamed as loud as she could. I didn't hesitate; I just hauled my butt to the other side of the room. Right as I took off running, my TV fell off of the shelf. It would have landed right on top of my head. The TV landed face down, and turned on by itself. It was not plugged in. I freaked out!! Teri and I both ran outside of the apartment.

After that, Ivan and I had problems with our TV in the living room. Right in the middle of a program that we were watching the channel would continually change, very fast. We replaced the batteries, thinking that would solve the problem, but it didn't. Not only was it changing channels on us, the TV started to turn on and off by itself. By this time, both Ivan and myself were freaked out. We were packing our things up and moving.

The problem continued at our new house. Ivan and I eventually ended our 4-year relationship. I moved to San Diego, he kept the TV. I still have the painting Ruth did.

In my new place, things were still happening. Late at night, I would wake up, feeling like someone is watching me or I would wake to my bed shaking, as if there was someone at the foot of it vigorously shaking it. I thought maybe we were just having an earthquake... but no earthquakes had been reported. A friend here in San Diego, told me I should get rid of the painting that Ruth did. She said that most likely that is why Ruth is still with me.

It has been 8 years now, and I have lived with the painting this long, and I have always loved this painting, so I might as well keep it.

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