The Ghost of Mother
Well, we have a ghost. I know, you don’t believe me, but the kids have been playing with it since they discovered it. They call it “Mother,” I think because they miss their Mom so much. I wonder if they actually think it’s their Mom, come from Heaven? Anyway, I’m getting off track here.
A ghost. We have one.
My daughters discovered it when they were cleaning out the barn for me so that I could make it a place for my cows to stay when it rained. I’d just purchased eight dairy cows and I wanted to try and keep them in good health, so I was laying down grass seed that I’d been told they preferred to nibble on while my oldest daughter, Rebecca, bolted troughs to the swinging doors of the stalls. Nancy, my youngest, was going through each stall and checking it for loose nails and generally just sweeping and tidying up the place for when the animals would arrive, which would be sometime in the following few days.
But Nancy found an old wooden chair, high-backed and heavily lacquered to a dark sheen, sitting in one of the stalls. Rebecca said that Nancy had stopped working and had started talking to someone, but she hadn’t heard anyone respond because she was using a power drill near her head. When she stopped and asked Nancy who she was talking to, she said it was “the old woman”.
Rebecca had immediately gone over to check on what Nancy was doing and looked over the chair herself. Besides a crack in the lacquer at the top of the high backing, the chair was in perfect if not dusty, condition. Now according to Rebecca, that was when she felt someone grab her by the wrist in an icy grasp. She said she jumped and looked around, but didn’t see anyone, other than Nancy, who was laughing.
The two came to me, up on my tractor, and asked if they could move the chair into the living room, where they kept the television at. Seeing as I don’t watch television, I didn’t see the harm in it. I mean why would I? And it wasn’t like they came out and said that the chair was haunted, they just said they found a cool chair. I, of course, asked the typical Dad questions of is it safe and is it in good repair? They both assured me I’d like it.
And I did.
That night, when I went inside the house, I entered the living room to find the chair in the middle of the room, beneath the newly installed ceiling fan I’d just put in on the I beam crossing the room. Walking over to it, I’d looked it over and smiled at the finish, before looking at the mark on it that was damaged.
“Do you think you could fix it, Dad?” My had youngest asked me, prompting me to turn around to see her ready for bed.
I’d nodded and ushered her off to sleep, tucking her in after telling her to say her prayers. After that, I’d gone and bathed, ate some dinner, and gone to sleep myself.
This was the norm for a few weeks, with the arrival of the cows breaking it up as I set to branding them and making them comfortable in the barn. Nancy named every single one and made sure to feed them every morning. That’s when things started to become strange.
Every night I’d push the chair up against the wall, as I didn’t just want one random piece of furniture out in the living room, where someone could trip over it in the darkness. But one night while I was going for a glass of milk I did just that. I asked the girls about it in the morning and they said they didn’t move it. Growing a little irritated, I’d asked who did. Nancy, with wide innocent eyes, had said “Mother did,” before Rebecca could shut her up.
“Mother?” I’d asked quietly, thinking of my recently departed wife. “You think Mom is doing this?”
“Not Mommy, Mother! She’s the old lady that used to live here a long time ago. She likes to play with us and watches us play video games from that chair.” Nancy had replied.
“Does she now?” I wasn’t convinced that some ghost was moving furniture around in my house, so I just leveled my glare at the two of them. “Well, you need to tell Mother to stop doing these things, or you’ll be grounded.”
Both children had let out groans of protest, but I’d waved them off. “The chair stays against the wall, or it gets thrown out.”
My statement was punctuated by a crash from the living room, something that even to this day I cannot explain rationally. Getting up, all three of us had moved to the living room only to find the ceiling fan yanked down from its position in the I-beam, laying broken on the floor. Looking back on it now, I can remember the fingerprints in the gathered dust I’d seen on the blades of the fan, but at the time I was too angry.
I told the girls to finish their dinner while I cleaned up this mess, grabbing the broom and dustpan from the side closet to sweep up the glass that’d been present on the ceiling fan before it shattered. Switching on the light of the closet, I remember the vaguest sense of someone watching me. Not casually either, truly and deeply studying me as if I were a bug under a microscope.
Turning back to the mess, I’d dropped the broom to the ground when I saw the chair, which had been up against the wall, now sitting in the middle of the room, beneath the I-beam and over the broken ceiling fan.
I didn’t speak of this happening and just moved the chair back before quickly cleaning up the mess, throwing the remains of the fan into the garbage outside. Then I’d returned to my dinner and tried to make casual conversation with the girls. But I just couldn’t get the image of that chair out of my mind. Something had to be done…