A few years ago a friend of a friend hooked me up with an amazing house sitting job. I liked the idea of hanging out in someone’s mansion for a few nights, pretending to be a rich lady. Let’s talk about the house for a minute, so you can fully understand what I’m dealing with.
A three-story Victorian mansion complete with grand piano, pool table, caterer’s kitchen (honestly, I didn’t even know what that was), and a soaking bathtub surrounded by enormous windows. There were MacBooks lying around like old phone books and a big library full of self-help titles that I felt I should peruse.
The owner of the house, let’s call her Emily, was flying with her husband via private jet to their other castle in Colorado. All I had to do was feed the cats, soak in the tub, and not steal anything. Emily showed me around her “house” taking the time to explain how her espresso machine worked and insisting I look through her box of clothes headed to Goodwill. I saw a Diane Von Furstenberg label and almost passed out. ‘Leave!’ I kept thinking, anxious to turn on the flatscreen and drink cappuccino while trying on my new designer clothes. I planned on sitting on the magnificent wraparound front porch so passerby's could admire what a baller I’d become.
As Emily turned to go she nonchalantly mentioned one final thing. “We have a ghost. She’s a little girl. I call her Rachel.” Then the bitch left me all alone in a three story Victorian mansion for two nights with a child ghost.
A little bit about me and child ghosts. They are my biggest irrational fear of all time. I’m afraid of ghosts that never grew up, they’re like a regular ghost, but naughtier and creepier. I pictured Rachel as dark haired and barefoot, wearing a white nightgown and holding a one-eyed doll. She’d show up at the end of my bed and whisper in a hollow voice, “I’m cold.” Rachel would enjoy scaring me because children love to do that kind of thing.
Fortunately, it wasn’t quite dark so I had time to run around and turn on every freaking light in the place. I lit it up like a Christmas tree. Emily probably had to sell one of her MacBooks to pay the electricity bill. I took deep cleansing breaths and reminded myself that I don’t really believe in ghosts. But I actually do.
Then I did a stupid thing. I went up to the master bedroom, filled the giant bathtub with expensive bubble bath and stripped down. I sat naked and vulnerable in a tub while trying to read “The Power of Positive Thinking” but really listening for footsteps, giggling, or old timey music that would signal Rachel’s presence. Every creak in the house sent chills down my spine. My bath didn’t last long.
Once dressed, I called my younger brother who lived nearby and shared my deeply rooted fear of child ghosts. I think it stems from a childhood of watching, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” I explained the situation to him and he advised me to leave immediately. I said I couldn’t abandon my cat duties so he suggested I watch non-stimulating TV shows until I fell asleep. So that’s what I did. I watched the Biography channel on the couch until sleep came. But it never really did. I kept waking up, checking to make sure nothing had crawled out of the TV. Occasionally, the cat would jump on me. Finally, dawn came. No ghost sightings. I was able to turn off some of the lights and laugh at myself. I felt better. I even vacuumed the living room.
I turned on “The View” and went into the kitchen to feed the cats. I heard something in the living room, but figured it was just Barbara Walters being out of touch with the real world. I filled my coffee cup and went back to the couch for more Hot Topics. But then, there. In the outrageously plush pile carpet that I’d just vacuumed, right in front of the TV were several tiny footprints, perfectly shaped like a child’s bare foot. I knew they weren’t mine because I wear a non-delicate size ten shoe. They could only belong to a child ghost.
That night, I slept at my brother’s house. He cautioned me to never go back to the mansion, but I had to feed the cats. I didn’t see further signs of Rachel, but I felt she was there, laughing at me. I told Emily my cat allergy would prevent me from ever house sitting for her again. Recently, a supernatural obsessed friend cautioned me that spirits can enter through the TV, so I’d set myself up. Sometimes, I like to think that I’ll help Rachel cross over to the other side. But realistically, I’d rather live in my one-bedroom apartment than a mansion with a child ghost.
Megan L. Wood uses her middle initial to differentiate herself from all the other women named Megan Wood.