The weekend is almost over and even though Jeff has a couple more days before he has to return to work, we'll be down at my mom's house, so the chance to do all the things we wanted up here is over. Thankfully, we got a lot done, including dropping the kids off at grandma's so that we could go on a four-wheeler ride.
We have over a hundred acres of forested, mountain, family-owned land. Over all of that we flew, Jeff laughing in the wind, me with my arms clutched tightly around him. Up steep hills, down into ditches, getting caught going over logs, knocking down small trees in our way – all immensely enjoyable, if not a little frightening at times. Some of the time I kept my head down behind Jeff's back with my eyes squeezed shut because of ground-up leaves that had gotten in my face. Other times I leaned back to stare at the incredibly blue sky, vast and spotted with powdery white clouds. We rode past one of Jeff's aunt's house, through her large clearing at the top of the highest part of land, where we caught views of Appalachia stretching out before us. We darted through another aunt's land and eventually wound up at the old abandoned home place, which lies directly behind where we live.
It's where Jeff's great-grandfather lived once. It's been abandoned for decades, the porch has long since fallen off, the windows no longer exist, vines cover all walls and over the roof, creeping into the lone upstairs window. It's beautiful and ghastly, melancholy and somehow touching. Jeff used to show me the old decrepit house back when we used to visit during holidays and I would openly shudder. “Creepy.” I've only dared to go in once before, only staying in there moments before seeing an old shirt hanging in a doorway and then shrieking and fleeing outside. I still attest that it looked like a MAN STANDING THERE and I had to run for my life. Little did I know that one day I would be living just a couple hundred yards away from the spooky old place.
Yesterday, we pulled the four-wheeler up beside it and dared to step inside. I figured the colder weather had driven out the spider (or at least I hoped, FERVENTLY) and was willing to explore. We stepped cautiously through the kitchen, floor littered with dozens of mason jars, an ancient refrigerator and stove still in place. While I started to question Jeff why these old appliances were still in there he had darted over chairs and glass into the next room. It must have been a living room, there was a fireplace, but also an old bed with several mattresses heaped on top. Women's shoes, mostly dressy, were strewn all over the floor over long-ago printed magazines. Jeff wanted to poke in every corner while I wanted to study the items I was finding and finally he led me to the staircase. Which you wouldn't have been able to see unless you were looking for it, since it seems like it was built INSIDE of a wall, tiny narrow steps leading up to the attic. “Uh, no.” I told him, firmly and definitely. After his persuasions I found myself gingerly tip-toeing up the stairs, hoping that they didn't come crashing in and I found myself at head level with the attic floor when I decided I had gone far enough. Jeff, being a mountain goat, trip-tropped along the floor, somehow psychically guessing safe spots to stand. I saw a red dress hanging on a hook from the ceiling, swaying in the breeze from the open window, strangely still intact after decades of being left to the elements. I begged Jeff to grab the dress, he would not, proclaiming it was not ours (the old house is technically on his uncle's land) and I told him that I truly doubted anyone cared since they were leaving the house to fall in. On his way over to retrieve the dress he said he found words written on a beam up there. “Held? . . . uh . . oh, it says help me,” he said distractedly working his way back to the stairs. I stopped in my tracks. “What did you just say?” I asked him. He worked his way down the steps getting himself and me halfway through the house. “It said 'help me',” he repeated and I flew the rest of the house outside to the safety of the four-wheeler.
But I still want that red dress. I don't care if it's haunted.