Woman Without Legs and Other Stories
North Carolina, USA
La casa de La Teja (The House of La Teja)
This is not just one story, but a collection of different tales regarding this house, la casa de La Teja.
Both my parents grew up in rural Puerto Rico during times of extreme poverty, back in the 1930's, in a small town in the east coast of the island named Yabucoa. They were both the oldest kids of large poor families (ten kids in each family), during times when a pair of shoes was a commodity and indoor running water was definitely a luxury. They both grew up in strict Catholic households, in an area where stories of the supernatural were part of everyday life.
The stories that most impressed me have come from my mother's side of the family, mostly regarding this house in Tejas (the family calls this township La Teja). This house was built in 1954 after enough money had been saved by Abuelo and Abuela (grandpa and grandma respectively), and by the oldest kids that had already started making money by working in the sugar cane fields. The house had a magnificent view, overlooking the horseshoe shaped valley of Yabucoa and its fertile plains, all loaded with sugar cane fields. The open side of the valley faced the Atlantic Ocean, the deep blue sea contrasting the extensive green of the valley.
Over the years, many family members have lived and died in that house, which to this day, is still occupied, now by the youngest daughter of the family, Myrta, and her two boys. To this day, many of us, including the grandchildren of this big family, have had different experiences in this house.
Most of the stories I've heard had come from Myrta, the current resident, and Luis, a brother who lives in New York City and who stays at the house everytime he visits the island. Myrta hardly ever likes to talk about her experiences but Luis, who is an avid story teller, seems to love to spook us with his stories.
According to Luis, the house is populated with spirits from the family. My great-grandmother died there in 1971, and so did Abuela in 1972 and Abuelo en 1988. Four other brothers have died (two during their childhood, and two others during their adult years, elsewhere), and Luis thinks they are all there, in that house, walking through the rooms at night. These are some of his stories.
Luis has told us of instances in which the bed in which he sleeps at this house shakes violently while he lies on it. Also he has been pulled by his feet while on this bed. He has seen the shadows of his parents and brothers walking into the room, staring intensely at him. He also mentioned about bright lights, like those of car headlights, flashing from the nearby trees into the house in the middle of the night. In addition, he has mentioned about the sounds of horses running in circles around the house, yet nothing is there when he peeks through the window.
Myrta's stories are less rowdy. When Abuelo was still alive he would sit on the balcony and thump his cane repeatedly against the cement floor, while enjoying the view and the ocean breeze. Myrta claims that she still hears the thump thump thump coming from the balcony in a regular basis, day or night. She won't talk about shaking beds, or midnight leg-pulling, but if you ask her about it, she will turn pale and with a nervous smile will blow your question off.
I don't have any personal stories regarding this house. I do remember though, Abuela's death in 1972. I was only 7 years old. The wake took place in that house, and her open casket was placed in the living room. We stayed that night in the house, my parents and my two siblings. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, and for some God-forsaken reason, I decided to walk out of my bed, into the living room to look at Abuela in her casket. Right there, in the middle of a room lit up only by candles, was the casket; no one else but me and my Abuela. I could hear the men gathered outside, as is customary in country funerals, chatting and sometimes laughing quietly, while the wake kept going outside. Looking at my dead grandma at that time did not seem to bother me. Nevertheless, I believe that moment was carved deeply into my psyche, since I still dream vividly about it.
One more note about Myrta and Luis. Back in the late eighties Luis had come to visit, and again stayed in the house in La Teja with Myrta. Someone in the neighbourhood had died, and the customary rosaries during the wake were planned for one of those nights. Myrta volunteered to lead the rosary. Both Myrta and Luis had walked to the house where the deceased had been laid out, and her mutt dog had followed her to the wake. During the rosary her dog got in a fight with other dogs, which caused the family members to ask for the owner of the dog to leave the premises, since it was disruptive to the event. Myrta and Luis understood and left the wake, and headed with the dog back to her house. Well, halfway to her house, according to both Myrta and Luis, they walked into some sort of invisible wall, and were not able to walk forward. Despite their effort, they could not move one inch towards her house, so they took it as a sign. They turned around, went back to the house of the deceased and finished the rosary. After they were done, they had no problem in returning back to her house. To this day, Myrta thinks that this supernatural event took place because the dead was disrespected.