Let me share a secret about the hygiene of many, many writers. When we’re on deadline or in the midst of a creative burst, we may forget about one of the basic processes in everyday cleanliness – namely, the shower. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit, but there have been days when I’ve looked up from my keyboard and gasped, (really, literally, I gasp) because I am still in my pajamas, my hair is askew (truly, that is the only way to describe my hair), I haven’t showered and it’s three o’clock in the afternoon. Thank heavens the UPS man leaves the packages on the porch and doesn’t require me to answer the door!
Such was the case recently when I realized I needed to write another Freaky Friday. So, I decided that I could take a shower AND come up with a Freaky Friday at the same time.
The door closes. The water is running. You step behind the shower curtain and pull it closed behind you. Ever since Psycho, people haven’t felt quite as safe as they used to feel when they are in the shower. You start thinking about ghosts. You realize, hey, I’m home alone. I’m home alone and in the far back of the house. I’m home alone, in the back of the house and I’m stuck behind a shower curtain, so I can’t see what’s going on! Suddenly you recall that you read an interview with the TAPS guys – Grant and Jason – that there is more paranormal activity around flowing water.
The toilet gurgles…does that count? Does shower water count?
Water tends to absorb negative energy from a traumatic event. It also creates an electrical field which could open up a ghostly portal. (See, you thought you only had to worry about snakes and rats climbing up through your toilet bowl.)
So, to solidify my current fear of bathrooms (or the more proper British term – Loo) here’s one of my favorite haunted bathroom stories:
The old limestone house was their dream home. They’d moved from Chicago to the small, rural town of Lena and purchased it because they fell in love. They knew there would be things they’d have to fix, but they could get to them in time. She was a nurse and he was a consultant who worked from home. They had two children who were in high school.
He first noticed strange things happening when he was sitting at the old kitchen table next to the window. Something rolled off the counter across the room. He shrugged, no big deal, it was probably the cat. He continued to work.
Concentrating on his laptop, he was startled to hear footsteps coming from the second floor. He knew he was the only one home. Probably the…the cat jumped up onto the chair next to him. Okay, not the cat. He stood up and walked over to the tall, narrow staircase that was enclosed by plaster walls on each side. It led upstairs to the three bedrooms and to the door to the attic. He walked slowly up the steps, listening for any other noises, but heard nothing. However, he did feel a chill creep up his spine the closer he got to second floor.
The cat followed him up the stairs and when they reached the second floor, the cat looked into one of the rooms, puffed up like it had been shocked with electricity, and hissed in fear before scrambling around his legs and dashing back down the stairs. He admitted that it took him a moment or two before he had the courage to continue, but once he walked into the room, it was empty. No big deal, right? But he did find himself hurrying back down the stairs to the light of the kitchen.
The family began to joke about their unseen guest. And, on the to-do list, getting rid of a ghost was at the very bottom. Odd enough, the item just before that last entry was putting in a bathroom on the second floor. The family reasoned that the old bathroom across the hallway from the staircase on the first floor would be just fine for now. It had an old pedestal sink, a working toilet, slightly cracking, but clean tile floor and a large cast iron bathtub that had a shower added to it. It wasn’t fancy, but it was functioning.
She had taken the afternoon shift at the hospital, so the house was dark when she arrived home. She saw the plate of dinner wrapped in plastic wrap waiting in the refrigerator for her and smiled at her husband’s thoughtfulness. And although she was hungry, all she could think of was soaking her tired muscles in a hot bath. She crept quietly down the hall, not wanting to wake her sleeping family and slipped into the bathroom. The old door was slightly warped, so she had to lift it to make it close tightly. She turned on the faucets with a preference for the hot water tap, poured in some bath salts and soon the room was filling up with fragrant steam.
She climbed into the tub, pulled the shower curtain to nearly closed to trap the heat and fragrance, and laid her head back against the edge of the tub. She sighed with pure pleasure as she felt the heat work its way to her sore muscles.
The door creaked. Someone must need to use the bathroom.
She pulled the curtain further, enclosing herself completely. “You can come in,” she called. “I’m behind the curtain.”
The door creaked open and she felt a blast of cold air. “Quick, close the door,” she urged. “I’m going to freeze.”
But the door remained open.
“I said close the door,” she called out, more than a little irritated.
Finally, she stood up, the warmth sluicing off of her, grabbed her towel, wrapped herself in it and pushed the shower curtain open.
The door was open, but there was no sign of anyone else. The lights in the hall were still dimmed. She suddenly realized she hadn’t heard footsteps on the staircase before she heard the door open. A chill that had nothing to do with cold air swept across her. She padded her way across the hall and hurried up the steps. She looked into the bedrooms of her children, both fast asleep. She entered her own bedroom and walked over to her bed. Her husband was snoring happily.
With a shrug, she turned and started back across the hall toward the stairs when she heard the distinct sound of the bathroom door closing and the bathtub draining. She froze for just a moment, then backed into her bedroom and quickly closed the door.
The next day the workers came to give them an estimate of a bathroom on the second floor.