Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Blogging For Books #7: The Ghost of Queen Anne

This is my entry in January's Blogging for Books (#7): Life is as Strange as Fiction
For this month's Blogging for Books, choose which genre of fiction best represents your life - whether it be literary, mystery, romance, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, etc. - and write a fictionalized account of some incident in your life based in that genre.
Apparently, my life has just a touch of horror, as this is a true story.
The Ghost of Queen Anne

"Where is that draft coming from?" I asked, holding my hands out to feel the air brushing over my skin.

Having eluded us since we took possession of the old Victorian home a month before, the draft seemed to have settled at long last in the dining room. Every licked fingertip and every lit match pointed to a different source. Finally, we had to admit, we just didn't know.

"That's just the way it is with old houses," Stephan said. "Crown mouldings, high ceilings, and ghosts."

Shivering slightly, I stepped away from the draft and grabbed my favorite phillips head out of the toolbox. "Package deal, I guess. I'm going to start prepping the upstairs bathroom for paint."

"O.K. Holler if you need me. I'll take a shot at roughing up the dining room walls."

Even a whole floor away, the power sander was loud, its vibration creeping up through the floor and climbing the aluminum ladder as I reached overhead to unscrew the fan cover. The subtle shaking had me feeling less than steady on my feet and I was just considering switching to taping off the border of the floor when the vibration and noise suddenly stopped.

"Lil..! Lil..!!"

Racing downstairs, I saw the blurred image of my boyfriend floating behind the thick plastic tarps we had hung to prevent sawdust from drifting out of the room. "Steph? Where are you..?" I swatted at the plastic, looking for the opening. His hand shot out of the plastic and pulled me through the makeshift doorway.

"Oh my G-" I squeaked and burst into giggles.

"Yeah, yeah, O.K.," he said in that aggreived tone that always makes me laugh harder.

"It's just so..." I gasped. I had no word to describe the sight of Stephan coated from head to toe in sawdust. From the hair sticking up randomly on his head to the tips of his workboots, my boyfriend had become the carpentry equivalent of a tar and feather incident. "It's so..."

"Manly?" he offered.

When we both stopped laughing, I helped him out of his protective gear and he headed off to shower. Over lunch we decided to let the air in the dining room settle down and spend the afternoon on easier jobs.

"Do you see it now?" I asked from my perch at the top of the ladder.

"Nope," Stephan answered from his position on the floor.

"How about now?"


I wriggled the fishtape in the wall again and again as Stephan tried to hook it with his fishtape. Running cable in the wall of an old house is always a challenge and the cable company just throws the cable jack anywhere they like. They don't care where you might want it inside the house. We had gotten away with running it around the room on top of the picture frame moulding, but now that we had reached the right spot, we had to run it inside the wall down to the correct height for a television. Stephan drilled the holes, so all we had to do was feed one fishtape into each hole, "fish" around in the wall until their hooks connected, then pull it through so that we could use it to pull the cable through. Usually, this is not a hard task, but it had been taking a long time. My feet on the ladder had started to ache and I turned to watch the dust behind the thick plastic that sealed off the dining room as it churned and boiled through the air, slowly, slowly settling down.

"Hey, Lilly, can you feel that? Am I tapping your wire?"

"No, nothing."

"Hmm. Maybe there's something in the wall blocking us. Hang on." Stephan marched across the room to rummage in the toolbox and came back with a flashlight and a small mirror. He pulled his fishtape out of the wall and began looking in the hole. "Hmmm... No, nothing there... Nope, noth- WHAT THE-!"

My head snapped to Stephan as he raced backwards across the carpet until he was stopped by the far wall. His calm, relaxed manner was shattered. His huge eyes flicked between me and the wall, me and the wall, me and the wall, and the sound of his rapid breathing filled the quiet. I was halfway across the room to him before I realized I was in motion. "What?!" I demanded. "What is it?"

Folding my hands around the flashlight and mirror, he gestured toward the wall with his chin and said, "Go look in there."

I approached the wall slowly and sat down by the hole. Crouching close to the carpet, I clicked on the flashlight and looked back at Stephan. He was wiping his brow with the sleeve of his shirt. I mentally shrugged and leaned in until my face was inches from the hole. Directing the beam of light into the hole, I tilted the mirror this way and that, trying to see beyond my limits.

Suddenly, I saw someone inside the wall looking back at me. I blinked. The other eye was still there, and it looked very human.

My heart slammed against my ribcage as I flew across the room. Breathing hard I looked up at Stephan as my mind raced in a thousand directions. Who was in my wall? Was it the same soul as the ghost in the dining room? I thought about my friend who owned the only house in Seattle I had ever been in that was older than this one, and when he opened the walls he found a book on witchcraft. And I thought that was scary! Now we will have to sell the house because there is no way in hell I am living here with some person in the wall. No way, no chance, not happening, no no no...

Stephan's voice intruded on my adrenalin rush, but I could not make sense of it."H-h-huh?" I breathed.

"What color was the eye you saw?" he asked me.

Knowing that image will be with me until the day I die, I said, "Brown."

Thoughtfully, Stephan said, "O.K. Mine was blue. It's a mirror."

As we came to learn, homes built in the 1900's commonly had pocket doors that slid neatly into the wall to separate the parlor from the dining room. When Prohibition began in the 1920's, many people took out the pocket doors and used the space in the wall as a hiding spot for alcohol. After Prohibition ended, some people put the pocket doors back in, others sealed the space up. And, apparently, some used the space to store things, like say, a large dusty mirror and some old wallpaper.

I have never opened a wall since without holding my breath. You just never know what old ghosts you are going to stir up.


At January 12, 2005 at 8:59 AM, Blogger Brooke said...

Great story!

At January 14, 2005 at 8:04 AM, Blogger Vera said...

and there i was bracing myself for a big scare... but not at all disappointed. that was a great story! :)

At January 14, 2005 at 10:02 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

This was really wonderful, an enjoyable read.

Blog: Uber-Caffeinated

At January 14, 2005 at 3:01 PM, Blogger Lilly said...

Thanks so much!

Let's just hope not too many scenes from my life translate to the horror genre. Right now, I don;t want to think about it. ;>

At January 14, 2005 at 3:54 PM, Blogger chasmyn said...

That was hilarious! I loved it, excellent entry.

At January 18, 2005 at 8:15 PM, Blogger la la la I can't hear you said...

Just wanted to say thanks for stopping by at Lam(b). Great entry!

we live in an old house too, it is so much fun isn't it? ;)

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