There was a house I used to walk by when I was a kid. We lived in a suburban neighborhood, so many of the houses shared yards and everyone kept their houses neatly painted with white and blue paint, with the occasional yellow house. Every house, except one of them, that is. That’s what this story is about.
It was empty for long periods at a time, I remember it when I was in 3rd grade it had gotten boarded up, but then there was a young family that moved in, they had a daughter about my age and I had a lot of fun playing around with her, but she had to move and change schools shortly after. Nobody really knew why the house would be empty most of the time, but the rumor around the school was that it was haunted and that the house had a radio attached to the living room wall that would play a creepy song by itself.
During 4th grade, I got in trouble with my mom because me and a couple of my friends sneaked in there and one of the nosy neighbors called the police on us. But I DID get to see the radio. It wasn’t that big of a deal, honestly, it looked like a normal radio but on a type of hole in the wall, next to a mirror, and right next to it was a chimney. The place was definitely run down, but it was too dark in there to really have a good look at everything else. There was furniture and I even thought I saw plates and other dishes on the dining room table, which I thought was pretty odd, but like I said, it was really dark inside, so it might have been something else.
The police didn’t make a big deal out of it and my friends and I were just told to go home, but the dumb neighbor went to the house in the evening to tell mom everything and I got in trouble. That neighbor was annoying.
The house was empty for about almost a year that time before a woman and her daughter moved in. Her daughter was in 6th grade and over a year older than me, I met her the for the first time outside her house. I had a three quarters in my pocket, so I flagged the truck down and it stopped right in front of the old house.
The girl ran inside the house and then came back out with a dollar bill. Just as I was grabbing my cone, the bottom of it hit the window-sill thing of the ice cream truck and the scoop rolled right off. The girl laughed hysterically at my misfortune, and I laughed as well, but only because I didn’t know what else to do. The ice cream man offered to give me another scoop if I gave him back my cone, so I did, and he put another scoop of strawberry ice cream on top. It was smaller one this time though.
I learned that the girl’s name was Sarah and that she came from Knott, a town over the hills and closer to the city. We used to go there right before Christmas in my dad’s car to go look at the house decorations. She asked me if I also went to her school, about how she had a mean science teacher, and then she mentioned her creepy house. And man, were we wrong about the house because it turned out to have more stories than me and my friends thought.
I used to wait for the ice cream truck every day to see if Sarah would come out too, and I started to have short conversations with her out by the corner of her house about 2 times per week. Out of the many things Sarah mentioned, this girl who was pretty much a stranger to me at the time outside of her house and talking at a million words per minute, she said that she and her mom actually slept in the same room because of the noises around the house at night.
They would hear footsteps coming down the stairs, with a few steps down, then stop, then up again, then stop. She also said that strange lights would shine under their bedroom door at night, in different colors sometimes, but mostly orange and red.
I didn’t know if I should believe her or not, but then she mentioned the death song and the radio. She said that she heard a woman sing, in a calming voice, the words “and I will haaang you from your feet, and –” then the voice would change and get deeper and say… “LET YOU GO”. I asked her where it came from and she said that the living room radio wasn’t actually connected, but that it was the only logical explanation her mom could come up with.
My ice cream was dripping down my hand at one point, but I was hypnotized by her stories. This girl had been at the house for less than a month and had already experienced a bunch of stuff. My mind was so intrigued that I even forgot that I was supposed to be shy around girls.
I remember passing by her house very slowly every day after that, sometimes going around the block just to see if Sarah would come out, and sometimes she would and we would talk for a little bit about random things, but the topic always ended up being about the house. Eventually I asked her why they didn’t just move out and she basically said that they were going to, but that her mom was still looking for a second job and that as soon as she found one, they would start looking for a new house.
I wished her mom had found a job. But wishes don’t always come true.
I’ve been thinking about my childhood and that girl recently, even though it had been many years since then. I can still see her crooked smile and red hair. I hear the way she emphasized the K sounds in her words.
Because not long after she told me about her mom’s money issues, the house was boarded up, and Sarah was gone. Her mom didn’t get a second job.
My dad explained the full story to me a few weeks ago after it came up after dinner one night. Up until then, I had heard rumors about Sarah and her family, but they were pretty bizarre. The true story is worse than any of the rumors, though.
It turns out that Sarah’s mom’s body was found at the foot of the stairs with a broken neck one morning, and Sarah moved away to live with a family member in another city. The news articles didn’t explain very much, but I understood that the county police were involved, which now that I think about it makes me realize that it was probably suspected that it had been no accident.