We’re traveling this week and next week, bringing Andrew to the MTC (Mission Training Center) in Provo and dropping Sarah and Ian off in Rexburg. On the way, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant and saw all the rocking chairs lined up in front of the building. And, of course, it reminded me of a story
Monica was about six years younger than me. So, when I was a newlywed, she was still in high school. Her family had moved to Chicago from Florida because her father had a job with the Chicago Public School System.
They bought a lovely home. Actually they were surprised at the great deal they got. Which, really, should have been the first clue. Monica was one of my students in Sunday school class. She was bubbly, bright and fun. But when she spoke about her new home, her demeanor changed.
“My parents told me not to say anything,” she confided in me one Sunday after class. “But I think our house is haunted.”
Now, I’d had experiences with ghosts all of my life and, really, most of the houses we’d lived in were haunted in one way or another – creaks at night, windows opening by themselves, a cold chill when you entered a room. I would say they were passively haunted, there was no definitive or obvious activity. So, when she mentioned her house was haunted, I probably didn’t offer her the sympathy she needed, or deserved.
Several weeks later, Monica’s parents approached me to ask a favor. Monica was the oldest of a large family and the parents had a business event in downtown Chicago that wouldn’t end until late at night. They didn’t feel good about leaving all of the children under the care of Monica and asked if I would mind going over to their house, just to keep an eye on things. I had no problem with that at all. Being poor newlyweds, we didn’t have the luxury of new-fangled VCRS, or cable or big screen televisions. My reward for watching the children was several hours of high-tech (for me) television viewing. After all the kids were in bed, I could curl up in an over-sized chair and watch one of my favorite movies on the VCR. Besides, my husband was already committed to taking the Scouts on an overnight camp out. Agreeing to this was a no-brainer.
The night had gone really well. I walked down the second-floor hallway and smiled to myself. Piece of cake, piece of crumb cake. The younger children were all sound asleep and the older children were in their rooms, reading, with a promise that the lights would go off in an hour.
I went downstairs and first headed to the kitchen. Dinner hadn’t been fancy, but cooking anything for a large family required several pots and pans, as well as other dishes. But they had a kitchen that was a joy to work in and they had a dishwasher! Wow! It was like a game, fitting all of the plates and bowls into the slots. (The only dishwashers I had experience with were me and my siblings.)
It took me about twenty minutes to clean up the kitchen. Then it was time for my reward. With a small bowl of popcorn in my hands, I headed towards the front of the house, to the large family room. The lighting in the house was dim, but I had enough ambient light from the streetlights and small occasional lamps to see very clearly. I walked to the entrance of the family room and got a familiar cold chill down my spine. I stopped in my tracks and gazed around the room before entering.
In one corner of the room sat an old rocking chair. And it was…rocking. Not just moving slightly, like someone had bumped it. But ROCKING, like someone was in it. The problem was…no one was in it. Suddenly it stopped. The chill grew stronger. I swallowed loudly and took a deep breath.
“Sorry, I disturbed you,” I stammered, backing out of the doorway.
Appeased, the chair began rocking again.
I quickly ran down the hallway and up to the second floor. I immediately saw that Monica was standing in her doorway with a wry smile on her face, as if she had been waiting for me to come upstairs all along. “The rocking chair?” she asked.
I nodded mutely, my throat too dry to speak.
She grinned. “See, I told you my house was haunted.”