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Phantom Footsteps

November 2000

I was born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia. This is an area consumed with its compelling history and a countryside imbued with its share of ghostly stories.

I spent a lot of time in the country with my paternal grandmother Arlean. She was a steadfast and wonderful friend and influence on me, and the lessons she taught me carry me through my life today.

My grandma often took in foster children, a custom she and my late grandfather had started long ago. One evening I was asleep on the top bunk of what was formerly my uncles' bedroom. The three foster girls, D, R and H slept in their rooms, also on the same floor.

I remember the night was warm and quiet. Living way out in the country as we were, there were lots of familiar night sounds. I didn't fall asleep right away.

As I lay there, I suddenly heard someone walk into my room and stand at the foot of the bed. Thinking it was one of the girls, I said their names and they answered from where they were. The footsteps then came around to the side of the bed and I stuck my arm out to, once again, see if the girls were playing tricks on me. There was only empty space. I screamed.

My grandmother came into my room right away with a flashlight. Anyone leaving the room would have had to go past her, so close were all of the rooms. But there was nobody.
My grandmother took me into her room, where I slept in my grand-daddy's bed. She told me that she understood and that I was safe there. She never questioned what happened, never told me I was making it up. From that day until my grand-ma passed, I slept in her room. I never heard the footsteps again. I believe my Grandma knew something about it, but didn't want to scare me, so said nothing. I was about ten then and now, at 43 years old, the thought of those steps still makes me uneasy...

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