(This is my submission to my writing exercise – as explained here – asking people to write from the perspective of an allegedly haunted house)
Dear Neighborhood Association, I am writing to correct a wrong, to fix a mistake, to dispel myths and to, most importantly, set the record straight.
I, for those who don't know, am the brown house five places down from the schoolhouse that burned down in 1975. You may well know me as the house that has sat vacant for three years. This makes me sad.
So let me set the record straight directly: I am not, despite what generations have wrongly believed, a “haunted house.” Quite the opposite, in fact, I am one of the friendliest houses I know. Rather I am just a house that tries to talk to its occupants and this, I have learned the hard way, freaks people out.
It all began in 1963 when I was built. That was a terrible year – the builders were all abuzz about Kennedy being shot and I could hear their sadness about the loss of idealism.
(Perhaps I should interject here that – and this may come as a shock to some of you – objects can hear. And feel. So when you're talking and are sad we can pick up on that, sort of like dogs react when they can tell you are sad and scared.)
My mistake was in speaking. I have since learned building etiquette – listen, but don't speak. I have learned this the hard way. The truth is I'm a nice guy and, I think, a good conversationalist, or at least that's what the houses adjacent to me though perhaps they are just being nice because what are they going to do? Move away?
Anyway, I heard them talking about Kennedy's death and I made my first make in saying, essentially, “This is so sad.” One of the builders claimed to have heard something and the others told him he needed to stop drinking before coming to work. I didn't exactly understand what had happened but I didn't like seeing this guy treated bad for just listening to me so I stayed quiet.
A nice family moved into the home in 1964 and everything went great for the first two years. It was a "typical nuclear family" - whatever that means - two parents, two kids, a dog. My only beef was when the kids or dogs would mark the walls or the floors - but I'd learned to hold my tongue and just enjoy the good times when they were happy and try to think other happy thoughts when they were problems. When they were all away from home THEN i'd talk - to the other houses, to other objects nearby, etc. but when they'd get back I'd shut my trap.
But then one day the two kids were playing tag inside the two-story home and one of them was running too close to the stairs for my comfort and the tag was kind of hard. It looked the boy, James was his name, might fall and if not roll down the stairs and hurt himself at least bump his head. And so I lost MY head and shouted, "Look out!"
Well, the good news is he was not hurt. The bad news is both kids heard me as did the mom. They, to use a term they used more often then, became "freaky" and not in a good way. They were asking each other if they heard what sounded like a ghost (whatever that is - I didn't know at the time) say "Look out."
To make matters worse they had seen a tv program or heard a radio program recently talking about haunted houses so now they became convinced this house was haunted.
What was I to do? I shouted, "I'm not haunted, er, haunting, I'm just a friendly house." Well, that just made matters worse judging by their expressions and remarks. I thought about adding that I was like Caspar the Friendly Ghost except, well, a house and not a ghost, but then realized that might just complicate an already complicated dilemma.
I suddenly understood the expression, "Just wait until your father gets home" because they all knew he was going to going to get mad when heard about all of this.
And he was. He understood why they wanted to move out - he seemed freaked out too - but was worried about the money they'd spent buying the house. Later he lied to the realtor about the reason they needed to sell the house fast, giving a story about an exciting job he had been offered on the condition that he could move to California in the next two weeks and start immediately.
A new family moved in about a year later and again they seemed nice but this time I was nervous about getting to know and like them because I was worried I would get too attached and maybe i'd say the wrong thing at the wrong time and mess up everything. And sure enough, I did mess things up. I won't go into detail since this letter is already too long but let's just say that having someone tear down a wall to put in a patio sure smarts and no matter how much it hurts, though, you're best off not saying. One "Ouch!" and another "Please reconsider this plan!" was enough to get the head of the household, who was doing these improvements, to realize something was amiss. Soon there was a downward spiral as he began to have doubts not just about the home renovations but how much he liked the house.
So they left. It was around then that I tried to get some of the other houses to join me in a weekly therapy session where we dealt with loss and self-examination. They weren't interested.
And then things - already bad, got worse. Rumors started to circulate around the neighborhood that I was a haunted house. Kids would be "dared" to come close to me. I was getting, in short, a bad reputation.
Until then Halloween was one of my favorite days of the year. I liked seeing people dress in costumes and coming to the door to get candy. Heck the first few years I even had candy of my own -I won't explain the logistics but let's just say I worked out a deal with the trees on the front lawn to drop candy into open bags.
The next few halloweens nobody came to the house anymore. I even turned on the light and procured some candy through my sources but still nobody came.
For the next few years nobody lived in my house and the only time I'd get visits was when someone was dared to come run up the drive way and touch me. When they did I'd have to resist the urge to say, essentially, "there, there, I'm not so bad."
Then came a few years where I decided to just be mean. I apologize for those next few years when I decided "if they're going to treat me like a monster well then I will BE a monster." That's when I would speak on certain occasions just to freak out people. I'd only do it to people who had it coming - a high school jock who I'd seen hassling smaller kids, for example - I mean I still had standards. So I'd do things like say someone's name when they walked by and they might pretend not to hear me but they would quicken their steps and I'd laugh and cackle. But by the 80s the homes around me put a stop to my bad behavior and held an intervention and made me agree to stop talking.
The gray house across from me made the comment that I made my mantra: "If you don't want to be treated weird you need to stop acting weird... even for those you think 'deserve it."So I made a vow at that point - no more talking to humans.
It's been 20 years now - that intervention was in 1981 - and I haven't spoken to a human since. When I started I had a sponsor to help me when I had to struggle on days when I really wanted to say something but now I'm not only 20 years talk-free but I have others I sponsor.
So let me wrap up by reiterating:
I am not haunted.
I do not have ghosts.
I would never do anything to hurt anyone.
So please help me find a new family to move in here. I promise I'll treat them right. I'll even do some things some other homes may not do because they're too stuck up like turn on lights for the family and stuff.
On second thought, scratch that idea. That might make them worry or cause problems.
Anyway thanks for listening and I hope we can work things out.
Your friendly talkative - but not haunted - house at 2222 Adams Avenue.