The summer wore on and Jill continued to watch her nephews. School wouldn’t start for another week and Cindy had yet to line up another sitter. She wasn’t too concerned because her mother had volunteered to pinch hit if Jill’s replacement wasn’t found before then.
During that last week, Jill’s friend dropped by for a visit. Together they sat at the kitchen table eagerly pouring over clothing catalogs.
Jill pointed, “I bought a pair of boots just like those.”
Her friend nodded and replied, “I’m glad you told me. I wouldn’t want to get a pair just like…” Her voice trailed off.
Jill looked up to see her friend staring beyond her in utter amazement. “What’s wrong?” she asked as she turned to see what her friend was staring at.
“Is there a wiring problem in this house?” her friend asked.
“Not that I’m aware of, why?”
“The bathroom light keeps going on and off.”
“It’s just been remodeled,” Jill commented. “Maybe there’s a short in the wiring.”
They went to the bathroom door and looked around, but saw nothing amiss. “Funny,” said Jill. “It stopped.”
“Maybe it was just a loose bulb or something. Forget about it. It’s almost time for General Hospital,” Jill said.
With the boys safely in the back yard, the girls each took an end of the sofa and settled in to watch their favorite soap.
The room was small and furniture was sparse by necessity. The television occupied one end of the room and Cindy’s dry sink, located across from the sofa took up the other wall. A rocking chair sat in the corner, rounding out the little room’s furnishings.
They were soon engrossed in the program. So when two of the four pictures displayed on top of the dry sink flew off and hit the floor at the girl’s feet, Jill’s friend became terrified.
“What the heck was that?” she yelled.
Jill tried to remain calm as she picked them up and returned them to their spot. “I don’t know. Maybe the wind knocked them over.”
“Wind?” her friend shrieked. “What wind? They didn’t just fall, Jill. They flew. I don’t know about you, but I’m outta here,” she said as she headed for the door.
Jill wanted to follow, but she had the boys to consider and she didn’t want to scare them, so she toughed it out, anxious for her sister to get home from work.
“Cindy, have you ever noticed anything strange about this house?” she asked that evening.
“Hmm. Not really. Why?”
Cindy listened as Jill told her about the day’s events but when Cindy cast a shrewd eye at the story, she capped it off with Megan’s experience the month before.
“Just don’t tell Mom,” Cindy pleaded. “She won’t let you finish out the summer and I really need more time to get another sitter.”
Jill agreed and no further activities occurred on her watch.
September arrived and as promised, Jill’s mother watched her grandsons for her daughter. Cindy had managed to find a sitter, but it would be another two weeks before she could start. Most days Cindy took the children to her mother’s house, but on this day, one son was under the weather, so Cindy’s mom came to them.
It was shortly after lunch when Cindy got the call. “Mom, is everything okay?”
“It is now,” she replied.
“Cindy, I was scared to death. I thought there was an intruder in the house, so I took the phone outside and called your father to come get all of us. I brought the boys home with me.”
“What made you think there was an intruder?” Cindy asked with a sinking feeling.
“Someone was walking around upstairs. Don’t you go home until Doug is with you.”
Cindy sighed. It was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the stories. Although her own experiences had been fleeting, she believed her sisters. Why would they make such things up? And surely her mother wouldn’t have imagined the footsteps, especially since Jill had been so careful to hide the summer’s events from her.
On the other hand, Doug was the true skeptic. He was a reasonable man and dismissed each story with the same explanation. The girls just had an overactive imagination. Cindy wanted to believe him. And why shouldn’t she? After all, nothing she could put her finger on had ever really happened to her… until she heard them.
One evening a few months later, Cindy was enjoying a long soak in a hot tub. Admiring her newly renovated bathroom, she reflected on how long it had taken them to reach this point. They had just one room left to do—the upstairs bedroom—and only that week Doug had begun to petition off the knee walls, readying them for drywall.
One such petition was directly above, so when she heard the slow, heavy footsteps above her head, she knew.
She called Doug into the bathroom. Finally she could prove it to him once and for all. But after five minutes of sitting and waiting for the sound to reoccur, he got up and left. “You’ve caught the bug, too.”
But Cindy was convinced. Something—or someone—was in the old house. Although she wasn’t particularly frightened, she was curious. So she turned to the one person who might be able to shed some light on the story.
Cindy’s mom had a friend who once mentioned that she had lived next to the house. The woman was elderly now, but was still in her own mind, so Cindy paid her a visit.
“Ellen, what can you tell me about the house I live in?” she asked the old woman.
Ellen smiled. “It’s taken you longer than I thought,” she said softly. “Her name was Maude. She was the mother of the man you bought the house from.”
Ellen paused, as if reliving that time in her life when she was young and raising her own family. “Maude loved children. I remember she had a beautiful voice. In the summer, she'd sit next to the open window and sing as she rocked her babies to sleep."
“That makes sense,” was all Cindy could murmur.
Ellen looked at her with seasoned eyes. “I expect she loves your children, too, doesn’t she?”
Cindy nodded slowly. “She’s never done anything to hurt us.”
“And she won’t either. Maude was a beautiful lady.”
“I am curious about one thing, though. I wonder why she sent the pictures flying off the dry sink.”
Ellen asked where it was located and when Cindy explained, she smiled.
“Well, I’m no authority on these things you know, but when Maude died, they waked her in the house— in the living room, in fact. Her casket was placed where your dry sink is today. When they took her out of the house, they passed the casket through the front window because they couldn’t heft it up over the stair banister.”
“You know, I always thought the footsteps belonged to a man,” Cindy said.
“They were so heavy, the floors creaked.”
“I told you they couldn’t heft her casket. Maude weighed 300 pounds.”
Cindy and Doug continued to live in the home for several more years but witnessed no further phenomena. Could it be that once the final restorations were complete, she grew accustomed to her new surroundings and found peace once again?