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Okay, I’m supposed to share a spooky story, but I freely admit to being a weenie when it comes to that kind of thing. I don’t see scary movies or read scary books. To tell you the truth, I don’t even like to think scary thoughts, so my experience with spooky is limited. But, I do have one memory from my childhood that still gives me chills. It happened the summer I spent several weeks at my grandmother’s home in a small town in Illinois…
I was seven at the time and thrilled to tag along behind the throng of my older siblings and cousins as we explored the tree-lined roads and sailed down the slide at the town’s only park. Those weeks were a sweet taste of freedom and innocence, of bare feet and fireflies, of corn fields and fireworks. But all that changed the evening the oldest of the group, my very cute, fifteen year old cousin, led us up the walkway of the Sauer estate.
He explained that the neglected mansion had been empty for ten years, since the mysterious disappearance of old man Sauer. At seven, I didn’t understand the concept of breaking and entering, but was pretty sure climbing through the window of the spooky mausoleum was a bad idea. Okay, so I buckled to peer pressure. Older kids are brave, even when they shouldn’t be, and can be brutal in their challenges. Especially to naïve seven year-olds.
The hairs on the back of my neck prickled as I slipped inside, and stood at attention when I looked around. Worn and dusty furniture filled the living room. A yellowed newspaper lay folded on the end table beside a tattered arm chair. The chattering voices of a few minutes earlier dropped to whispers as we moved as a group through the house. Each room held more of the same. Everyday household items rested where they had been left. In the kitchen, a moldy plate of food sat on the counter beside a half-filled glass of water, as though old man Sauer had simply slipped out to run an errand – and never returned.
At a sudden thump from somewhere above on the second floor, I could see the bravery deserting my older sister and my eyes flew to the window and escape. But no, cute cousin wouldn’t have that. Pressing his finger to his lips, he jerked his head in a follow me motion and headed for the staircase. My heart pounded as the other kids hesitated. Surely we’d be leaving now. We shouldn’t be here. Something very, very bad was going to happen if we didn’t leave immediately. But apparently, a fifteen year-old’s arched brow has magical powers of persuasion. My feet felt as if they were encased in lead as I clung to the tails of my sister’s t-shirt and climbed the stairs.
If the first floor was spooky, the second was downright creepy. Little light came through the shuttered windows. The floorboards squeaked and moaned beneath our feet, and the gloom of the airless hallway only amplified the scrape of scurrying animals. My imagination conjured up long tails and sharp teeth. I reach for and wrapped my fingers around my sister’s arm, hoping the dig of my fingernails would help snap her out of her blind obedience, and I fought against peeing my pants. I’d never been so scared before, or for that matter, after.
Like criminals on death row, we shuffled forward. Our destination, a door at the end of the hall, directly above the kitchen. Cute cousin and my brothers were first in line, with us girls bringing up the reluctant rear. By the time we reached the door where the boys waited, I could barely breathe. And then I couldn’t breathe at all, not when my cousin pressed a hand to the door – and shoved! My ear piercing screams joined those of the others as the door crashed against the wall of a large, tiled bathroom. A claw foot tub crouched in the far corner like a beast about to leap. And in it’s depths, cold and still as death, waited…
Psych! I made the whole thing up. Weenie, remember? You would never catch me inside a spooky house!
Okay, not nice, I know, but I got a laugh out of it, and my cute cousin would as well. So, to make it up to you, I’m offering a free copy of my lighthearted contemporary romance, That Dating Thing, to one lucky visitor. All you have to do to be entered in the drawing is leave a comment telling me what you imagined awaited us in that tub. Don’t forget to leave your email address with your comment, then hop on over to Still Moments Publishing for lots of other great prizes.