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The Spirits Who Watch Us // Cain



The Spirits Who Watch Us

I grew up in a haunted house. It’s not so bad, it’s not like what they depict in the movies, all possession and nightmares and slamming doors (although that did happen once). It’s more like there’s something in your house that’s trapped there, confused and lost, trying to communicate to someone, anyone, so that they can gain a tether in the darkness. Something familiar that they can latch onto, some sign of life in the ether. In church we were taught that when you die you definitely go to one of two places based on the life you’ve led and the path that you walked. I have seen enough evidence in my life to now question that idea. So we recently moved, yeah? Into this old, old house. The joists and ceiling beams are hand hewn. The closets? Finished in solid wood planks, no drywall anywhere. I’m pretty sure they just laid drywall over the wooden walls, that’s how old this house is. One night I was standing in the living room playing old video games with the sound low (‘cause Junior was asleep) just minding my business. “Baby?” the wifey called from the other room. “Yeah?” I called back. No response. “Yas ma’am?? Baby?” Nothing. So I walked through the living room back into the hall. The bathroom light was on, and I opened the door to my wifey in the tub with a glass of wine. “Baby, did you call?” “No Baby, I've been in here soaking the whole time. Why?” “Oh...no reason...” I said, closed the door and walked back into the living room with my neck hairs standing at attention. Then just last week I jumped in the shower after a long ride back from vacation in Florida. Wifey and Junior stayed behind with her parents and were riding back the next day, so I had the house to myself. While I was showering I heard a quick, short whistle. I didn’t think anything about it, just chalked it up to the showerhead squealing, but soon it started to get awful cold in the bathroom so I pushed back the curtain. The door to the bathroom was standing wide open. Now I was certain I pulled the door to when I went into the bathroom, absolutely certain. So naturally I got out of the shower and combed my house butt naked, checking all the rooms and even the closets before closing every door and returning to the shower, locking the bathroom door behind me.

Our boy will be two here, come November. The wife and I come from fairly big families, but we waited ‘till later on to have our first kid. We wanted to spend time being in love and learning to live together before we brought a kid in to complicate things even more. As a result, several of his great-grandparents had already passed on: two on my side and all of them on the wifey’s side. I’ve always believed that our loved ones constantly look over us, whether on this plane or the next, after they pass on to whatever the hell is out there after this life; we all have our beliefs but nobody can be certain what lies “beyond the veil”. Wifey has a wonderful photograph framed sitting next to our bed of all four of her grandparents together. “How often do you see that? That doesn’t happen very much!” she always says when she picks it up. It is an absolutely great picture, the photographer said just the right thing at just the right moment and he caught everyone chuckling, laughing and preparing to scold; it’s beautiful. One night I was out and wifey was doing laundry on the bed; Junior was playing in his room before bedtime. She said he came into the room calling “Momma? Momma?” He walked over to the bed where they “had a conversation” and then he stopped, looked at the picture, pointed and said: “Papaw!” Wifey, kind of taken aback because Junior has never met these folks, said “Yeah, that’s both your great papaws right there.” Fast forward about a week or so to bedtime in the boy’s room. We always read books before bed on the floor while Junior winds down by walking in circles talking to himself and climbing in and out of whoever is reading’s lap. I was reading and Ma was putting away some toys, when all of a sudden Junior stopped jabbering and turned around to face the corner of his room. “Papaw?” I looked at the wifey, she looked at me, and we looked at him, but before we could say anything he started to back towards the door, shaking his head. “Papaw, Papaw!!! AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!” He squealed and turned heel, running out the door and down the hallway towards the living room. The wifey and I exchanged glances again, and then looked down the hall where the child had fled. “Hey buddy, come back. Let’s finish reading your books,” Mom called down the hallway. “...No.” “Hey buddy, what’s wrong? Come on back, it’s bedtime,” I echoed soothingly. “No. Papaw.” Little feet stamping back and forth down the hall by the bathroom door. “Alright,” I grunted as I stood up and sauntered into the hallway, “It’s bedtime, buddy. Let’s go,” and I snagged him up before he could get away, curling him up in my arms while walking back towards his room. “No, no, no....” he whined and wriggled in protest. “It’s ok buddy, there’s nobody here but us, see?” We walked back into his room and I held him in the crook of my arm where he could see the room as we walked in. He was obviously shook up, but when he looked into the room he calmed down, and when I sat him in the floor he crawled into his momma’s lap. “Book. Book.” So we went on about bedtime as usual. When we laid him in his crib he flopped onto his belly, sighed as we drew the cover over him, and closed his eyes without making a peep.

I poured myself a couple of fingers of bourbon, poured the wifey a glass of wine, and then I topped both off for good measure. “What the hell was that?” she asked, frantically trying to secure something lighthearted on the tv. “I dunno baby, I dunno....” I handed her her wine and plopped down with a heavy sigh. We drank in silence for a moment, flipping through the Webtube selection of sitcoms. “Do you really think the house is haunted?” Wifey asked, chewing on her lip. “Baby I know the house is haunted, ain’t no doubt in my mind.” Her face wrinkled with worry and she studied her glass of wine. “If it’s any consolation, I kinda think it’s one of our family members that is hangin’ around. We both believe that our family continues to watch over us after they’re gone, why is it so hard to believe that there is a manifestation of their soul that is more visible to babies and children than it is to the unimaginative minds of the drones we become as adults?” She sipped her wine and nodded but didn’t respond. “Besides,” I put my arm around her and pulled her into my shoulder “I grew up in a haunted house, remember? Me, Sissy, and George? We go way back. He would have told everyone on the other side that we’re good people, and if I learned anything from growing up there it’s if you leave them alone they’ll leave you alone, ok baby?” She nodded but didn’t say anything, instead taking a rather long drink from her glass of wine. “Scrubs?” She shook her head. “Friends?” I shook my head. A few more minutes debating, and I went back to refill our drinks. {Nah nah na na na nah na na} “So no one told you life was gonna be this waaaayyyy...”

Cain is from a small southern Kentucky town called Lewisburg and grew up in the woods and 'hollers surrounding his family farm. He began writing as a young man and now writes from the comfort of a large desk in a small house outside of Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he lives with his insanely supportive wife, young son, and faithful dog, Willomina Von Tinypaw.

Image by Bill Rogers

#boneandink #vol6 #halloween #eerie #ghosts #prose #creativenonfiction #cain #hauntings

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