The Haunted Farmhouse
by Linda C Butler
In the 1950s our family travelled to British Columbia on holidays and we stopped to visit Ruth Richardson, a distant cousin who lived in an isolated farmhouse. Dad had driven all day and he was glad to stop and rest. Brian and I, about 7 and 10, wanted to play outside, but it was getting dark and we stayed indoors and amused ourselves as best we could, while the adults looked at old family photos. My mom drank her tea silently while Dad and the lady exchanged stories.
Dad usually put up a tent for us, as we had our sleeping bags, but it was rainy, and our cousin assured us that we would sleep better if we stayed in the beds she had made up for us.
She led us to two small bedrooms with narrow beds. Mom was assigned a room with me and Brian slept with Dad. We thanked her and crawled into bed, but the mattress was hard and lumpy. Mom said that it was made of straw and told me that straw mattresses were common in farming communities. This was the first, and only night, that I have slept on straw. There was only a thin fabric casing around the straw and the shards poked me all night.
I tried to go to sleep but there was a bit of a wind and the windows rattled. The curtain moved slightly and a shaft of moonlight created shadows on the walls that resembled ghosts. I remembered all the dead people in the photographs that we had seen earlier and thought of all the people who had lived in this house. I wondered how many of them were now ghosts trying to get out through the window, or if more spirits were entering.
Mice scurried in and out of the cracks in the floorboards and the boards creaked as tiny feet ran over them. I wondered if the mice had a nest in the straw mattress that I was sleeping on, and I patted the bed beside me to see if it moved.
There was a bang in the hallway and the house groaned. I jumped up, my scream still in my throat.
Mom said: “Shush. The cat probably just got a mouse.”
I snuggled closer to Mom for protection, but I think she was also wishing that she was back in the tent. Somehow we made it through the night.
The next morning Brian and I were anxious to get away from this haunted farmhouse and we were in the car waiting when Dad was ready to leave.
© Linda C Butler 2013