I had two emails from people who wanted to share stories with me. One claimed that his house was haunted by its previous owner, and the other message came from a Wellesley College employee who wanted to share information about the college’s underground tunnels. Both intrigued me, but, after my past two experiences, I was hesitant.
My little library flier had generated more interest than I could have hoped for, but it seemed to be generating the wrong kind of interest. First Pam wanted to pawn off her haunted trinket and then Laura and Michael thought I could phone up an exorcist for them. I felt guilty that I had somehow unintentionally misled all of them.
My husband, we will call him C, disagreed and felt there was no need for guilt on my part. “I warned you about kooks,” he said, “You shouldn’t be meeting people in their homes,” he said, ‘Don’t tell me their stories. I won’t be able to sleep. And make sure some demon doesn’t follow you home,” he said.
At the very least, I felt the need to tweak my flier. So I did. I made it clear that I was an author looking to gather ghost stories from Welleslians about hauntings in Wellesley. I even put a disclaimer on the bottom of the page “Please note: I am neither a ghost hunter, nor a paranormal problem-solver – just a curious neighbor who intends to document hauntings.”
I don’t know. It’s all I could come up with. I printed out a new flier and posted it at the library.
But I couldn’t bring myself to respond to the responses it elicited.
Around this time I had my friend Lyssa over so our kids could play together. She has two boys to my two girls and the four entertained each other well. Over a glass of chardonnay (it was a teeny tiny glass for me and it was four forty-three in the late afternoon, relax, everyone), I told her about my hesitation to continue my ghost research.
“You absolutely can’t stop now. You’ve had such great traction. Listen, I have a neighbor, I just met her at our neighborhood progressive dinner – we will discuss that in a moment – she’s lived in her house since she was a little girl. She and her husband and their three kids moved in with her mother. I liked her. Cute, cute haircut and she was wearing Lilly (Pulitzer). She had me at hello,” Lyssa said with a laugh.
“Speaking of, I just walked through E.A. Davis, I’m stalking the new Elsa top,” I said.
“Wait for the sale,” Lyssa replied. “Anyway, about this woman; I sat next to her at the dinner and we totally hit it off. At the dessert house – they made blueberry pie, it was strange – I ran into Leslie. You know Leslie, right? President of the Bates P.T.O., the woman that organized that diaper drive last Fall.”
“Isn’t she president of the Mother’s Forum, too?” I asked, sipping my wine.
“That’s the one,” Lyssa affirmed. “Anyway, Leslie grew up in Wellesley, and she told me that this woman I met, Jenn, had some horrible thing happen in her family when they were growing up. Like, a man broke in and attacked her and then there were rumors that other strange things happened in that house.”
“What kinds of things?” I asked.
“Spooky things. Apparently they nicknamed Jenn ‘Carrie’ in high school.”
“Like, Carrie, as in Stephen King’s Carrie?” I asked.
“Yup. Leslie said Jenn is open about it all now, she totally doesn’t mind talking about it. Anyway, it made me curious.”
“Nosey,” I corrected.
“Sure. But I thought maybe if I told her about what you’re doing, we could invite her over, or better yet, have her invite us over, and she would tell us the story.” Lyssa said, draining her glass.
“Oh, I don’t know.”
“Sure you do, I’ll arrange the whole thing.” Lyssa said with confidence, and tapped her nails on the side of her glass.
And she did. Somehow, Lyssa managed to get Jenn to invite us over to her house for cocktails and appetizers on a Thursday night in April. Enough time had passed since my last interview debacle with the Arnolds so I had the nervous / excited butterflies in my stomach at the prospect of hearing a creepy story.
I was buckling my seatbelt in the driveway when I heard a ping from my cell phone. I looked down to see a text message from Lyssa.
– F-ing babysitter cancelled just now and Joe won’t be home until nine!!!!
– Shit. I thought. Nooooooooo!!!!!! I texted.
– I know. It sucks. Go w/o me and you can fill me in.
– But I don’t even know her! I texted back.
– She’s so nice. Seriously. Go!!
– Fine. Damn it all! I texted back.
I confirmed the Boulder Brook address and texted a emoji of a middle finger to Lyssa. She texted back the poop emoji.
Ten minutes later I pulled into Jenn’s driveway. Various bikes and sports equipment littered the front lawn. I took a deep breath and got out of the car, thinking about how C had said I shouldn’t be going to people’s houses alone.
But this was an acquaintance of Lyssa, I reasoned. Totally different.
I climbed the steps onto the front porch, which held adirondack chairs and an off-kilter porch swing, and rang the doorbell.
After a moment I heard footsteps and then the beep beep beep of an alarm system being disengaged. Two deadbolts and another lock clicked and the door finally opened.
Lyssa was right, this girl was really cute with a cute haircut. Jenn had naturally curly hair cut into a funky but perfect short layered bob. It was different shades of blond and framed her heart shaped face perfectly. She was wearing black leggings and an oversized sweater. Cute.
“Hi!” She said in greeting. “I didn’t realize you were pregnant!”
I laughed, “Is it that obvious?”
“No, no! I just mean, I have plenty to drink besides wine,” she said.
“Well, frankly, a glass of wine sounds really good right now. Just a little one, then I can have water. Did Lyssa get in touch?” I asked. Jenn confirmed that she had.
I followed her past the dining room into a great room at the back of the house. It was obviously a renovated addition to the home. A wall of paned windows overlooked a gorgeously landscaped back yard. Daylight was dimming but I could still make out huge hydrangea bushes and other nice plantings, though I had no idea what they were. We chatted a bit about the gardening (don’t worry – she had a landscaper) and she got excited when I asked if it was alright for me to record our conversation.
The room was a combined kitchen and living room. The best way for me to describe the decor is if Pottery Barn and an high-end antique store had a love child and then named a Nantucket art gallery it’s Godmother. This home was that child. I never wanted to leave.
“Thank you for having me over,” I said, “I never want to leave! This room!”
“This is my favorite room in the house,” Jenn replied.
“I can see why,” I said. “Lyssa said that you’ve lived here your whole life.”
“I have, yes,” she replied. “I moved out for college in Boston, where I met my husband, Mike, and after we had our second child we moved in with mom. It was supposed to be temporary, until we could find our own place in town. But we all liked it so much, having mom with us, and the neighborhood, that we built the addition and stayed put. How long have you guys been in town?”
“Just about two years now. It was an adjustment to leave the city, but it grew on me. I like it now. Your neighborhood is so fun, Lyssa told me about the progressive dinner, and I know you all have a block party in the summer too.”
“Yeah, there’s always something going on. You have to book the sitters out way in advance. We have a fun game night too,” she said.
This triggered a memory/thought. “You don’t know Nick Sayre, do you?” I asked, thinking of the realtor with the ouija board obsession.
“I do! His wife, Maeve, is one of my best friends,” she said.
“No way! Small world. I spoke with her husband, about a ghost story recently,”
“Oh, geez, that. Yeah. The ouija board. Maeve said it had become a problem.” Jenn said.
“So you were there the night everything began happening,” I prompted.
“I was. I was really pissed, actually. Nick knows that I have an aversion to the paranormal, and he told us we were going to be playing dirty pictionary again,” There it was again, this reference to dirty pictionary.Dare I ever ask? “My husband, Maeve and I refused to play. Obviously, it wasn’t a good idea.”
“No, definitely not, but then, I can’t imagine a ouija board ever being a good idea.”
“Agreed,” she agreed. “Here, let’s go sit in the family room.”
Jenn lead the way into the gorgeous window filled room. We sat on the most elegant sectional sofa I’ve ever seen. It was lime green. Really. And it smelled nice. Not like some cloying air freshener, but just, like fresh. Clean. The throw pillows were like overstuffed clouds in navy and white. The view to the kitchen was warm and inviting.
Jenn tucked her legs underneath her as she nestled into the couch corner and I did the same at the opposite end. Above us, a massive lantern chandelier, hung from the peaked ceiling, softly lit the room around us.
“I’ll say it again,” I said, eyeing the cheese platter set before us on the glass coffee table. “I never want to leave.”
Jenn dipped a pita chip in spinach and artichoke dip. I knew that my entire body would be puffy the next morning from all of the sodium, but I followed suit.
“So, you’re the ghost lady I’ve been hearing so much about,” she said. “You don’t seem too strange. I was sort of expecting someone with butt-length stringy hair and a long patchwork skirt.”
Wine almost shot out my nose as I stifled a laugh and took a sip at the same time. I liked this woman.
“Yeah, well, sorry to disappoint. It’s just something I’ve always been drawn to. I love being scared.”
“Have you ever really been scared?” She asked, without a hint of a smile.
“No,” I said, and paused, realizing my faux pas. From the little bit I’d heard about her past, I knew that she was no stranger to fear.
“Well, that’s why you are drawn to it. You are able to romanticize it. Trust me, once you experience it. Fear – real fear – is devoid of allure and mystery. It’s the opposite of that. It is all circular thinking, and what ifs,” she paused, taking a bite of a baby carrot. “And repulsion.” She concluded.
“I’m sorry, I feel like a jerk. Lyssa told me you had a ghost story, but she also told me that you had a break in -”
“No! Don’t be sorry! I am excited that you are here – I am expecting you to interview me, so I can tell you my story. That’s why you’re here, right? That’s why you have a digital recorder!” She giggled. Something about the device seemed to amuse her. “Trust me, I am an open book.”
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this,” I said. “I sort of wish I was just here to chat about kids and clothes and the gossip.”
“Next time!” She said with a laugh.
“Ok, well, start it off. Where does your ghost story begin?”
“Well, actually, I need to go back a bit before I can tell you about the ghost. Because, without what happened before that, I don’t think there ever would have been a ghost.”
“Ok,” I said, stuffing a slice of Brie into my mouth. I was in that pregnancy sweet spot where flavors just burst and happiness hormones shushed the voice whispering “post pregnancy weight.” I was ready to just let her tell her story while I dug into the cheese platter.
“A man broke into our home when I was fourteen,” she began. “We were in the dining room with my mom and he came to the door. I remember watching him walk up the front steps, wondering who he was. It was late afternoon and my brother, Peter, and I were doing homework at the dining room table. I heard my mom open the door and say hello and the next thing you knew that man was dragging her into the dining room with a knife to her throat.”
“My God,” I said, glancing through the kitchen to the front door.
“Peter got up and yelled and I just sat there completely frozen. It was like I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The guy, he was wearing this utility belt, like he was from the electric company, or something, and he had duct tape in it, and more knives. He taped Peter to his chair first, then me, and taped our mouths closed. Then he sat my mom down across the table from us, taped her up, but not her mouth. He said that he’d come to save us. That he was just in time. He stood behind my mom, with the knife to her neck and went on and on about how an angel named Delilah had been visiting him at night and that it was his destiny to save families from ‘this present darkness.’”
“What?” I said.
“He explained why he had to kill us. It was all this crazed, religious nonsense. It was surreal. A moment before we had been doing homework, and now this madman was talking about how an angel told him that if he could deliver us to her she would save us from the darkness and deliver us to the light. My mom tried to reason with him, but he would just scream into her ear, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan!’”
“Holy fuck,” I said.
“He was a lunatic He would get very quiet, almost whispering, and then shout the rest of a sentence. He was bat shit crazy.”
“What the hell were you thinking during all of this?” I asked.
“I was panic stricken about my mother, of course. But my brother was only nine. He was sobbing and I could tell through his tape that he was saying ‘mommy’ over and over.”
“Oh my God,” I say, horrified and sad and scared and angry all at once.
“It was awful. The man stopped talking after a while and was pacing behind my mother. He was quoting scripture and holding the knife in front of him with both hands like a caroller holding a candle. We could all sense that he was getting ready to kill us. Something came over me. It was like it shoved the panicked part of me into a closet in my mind and the calm took over.
“The man hadn’t closed the front curtains, I had been hoping the whole time that someone would see what was happening from the road. I could tell he was almost done psyching himself up. So I started screaming as best I could through the tape ‘me first! me first!’ over and over. He was at my side in a second. He smelled like moldy laundry and peppermint gum, “she shudders. “He ripped the tape off my mouth and whispered for me to repeat myself.
“‘Me first,’ I said again after catching my breath, ‘I want Delilah to bring me to heaven first.’ My mom, of course screamed, ‘No!’ Through her tape, but I figured that I could buy us some time if I acted like I believed him. My dad usually got home from work around five-thirty, I didn’t know what time it was but it was getting close.”
“What did he do when you volunteered to go first?”
“He dropped to his knees and started thanking every saint you’ve ever heard of. Then he said I could ‘choose.’ I didn’t know what he meant. He leaned in next to my ear and I felt his incredibly hot breath on me and he whispered, ‘choose how.’ And I knew. He wanted me to tell him how to kill me.”
“What in the fuck?” I said. What in the fuck. I thought again.
“As I was trying to decide what I should say, he walked over to my mother and slapped her across the back of her head, hard. She was getting hysterical. And my brother was just sobbing and shaking his head back and forth. I tried to calm him down, but the man screamed ‘choose!’
“So I did. ‘Drowning,’ I told him. I figured I’d have the best shot. I mean, how was he going to manage that? He said some more whacked out prayers and then cut off the rest of my duct tape with the knife and dragged me into the kitchen. I was looking everywhere for some kind of weapon, but he taped my hands behind my back and then put the stopper in the kitchen sink and began filling it with water.
“He shoved me in front of the sink and I struggled as hard as I could, but he was much stronger than me. He shoved my head under the water and I struggled and held my breath for as long as I could but eventually I couldn’t hold it anymore and I breathed in. It was like knives, like a million little needles and knives and then it was, just nothing.”
“My Lord, how did you survive?”
“While the guy was doing this, my dad came home – fifteen minutes early. He saw my mom and brother through the dining room windows. So he came in quietly and they were able to motion with their heads towards the kitchen. My dad snuck up behind the man and hit him over the head with a glass fruit bowl. Knocked him out cold. Then he got the tape off my mom so she could call 9-1-1 and gave me mouth to mouth resuscitation until the paramedics arrived.
“They all thought I was dead. Even the paramedics. My mom said that they admitted afterward that they only tried to revive me for my parent’s sake. They didn’t think there was any chance I could have survived. Said it was a miracle.”
“Thank God,” I said, needing another glass of Chardonnay, and mentally kicking myself for being pregnant.
“Honestly. I just came to and they told me that when I stopped coughing I said, ‘Delilah,’ but I don’t remember that at all.”
“Who was the man?” I asked.
“A guy that had worked in the local hardware store. My dad actually recognized him.”
“What did he look like?” I asked. “I am picturing a massive hillbilly.”
“Oh no, not at all,” she said. “He looked exactly like Michael J. Fox.”
“No,” I said, incredulous.
“Yes, to this day I can’t watch anything that he is in. The resemblance is almost unnatural.”
I looked at her for a moment, mourning the fact that she had missed watching The Frighteners. “I don’t even know what to say. I am so sorry that happened to you and your family. How do you get past something like that?”
“Everyone handled it differently. My mom had to go away for a little bit. My dad got paranoid. My brother was fearful, he slept on the floor in my room until he went away to college.”
“What about you?” I asked.
“I was able to close it in a box in my mind. My mom went for help, and my dad was worried about her and hovering around, but so panicked that he wasn’t really present. And someone had to watch over Peter, get him to school in the morning, make him dinner and talk him through his nightmares.”
“Forgive me, but that doesn’t sound like something anyone could keep up for very long. Everyone has to vent, especially terror like that.” I said.
“Yeah, well, I guess you could say that it came out another way,” she said.
“The ghost,” I guessed.
“The ghost,” she confirmed standing up and walking to the kitchen. “Can I get you anything? I’m going to grab another glass of wine, if you don’t mind. Want a seltzer water?”
“A seltzer water would be great, thanks, but I am jealous,” I replied.
“I hated giving up wine when I was pregnant,” she said over her shoulder. “But my husband was crazy about it. He was obsessed with everything that I put into my mouth. All three pregnancies. I couldn’t wait to get my body back to myself.”
“How old are your kids?” I asked.
“My oldest, Emma, is in fourth grade. Then Sophia is in second and our baby, Jackson, is in kindergarten.”
“Oh how sweet,” I said. “So they are all in the same school?”
“Yes, we are a true Bates family,” she said, referring to the neighborhood elementary school. “Where are you in town?”
Adults in this town identified with their neighborhood elementary school like sports fans bragging about a team they weren’t on.
“We are over in the Hills area. The girls will go to Schofield,” I replied.
“Oh,” she said, returning to the couch and handing me a seltzer water. “I have a few friends from the Mother’s Forum whose kids are in Schofield.”
“Oh?” I said, sipping my water.
She didn’t offer any further explanation, so I said, “You were about to tell me about your ghost.”
“My ghost,” she said, with a smile. “Do you know what a poltergeist is?”
Shit. I did know what a poltergeist was. The real kind of poltergeist, not the “they’re heeeeere,” kind of ghost. The kind of ghost that attaches to a person, an entity energized by pent up emotion, unwittingly set free to wreak havoc on a family. These ghosties were a thing of levitating beds, broken dishes, screams and voices and bumps in the night. And then, one day, out of nowhere, the terror ends. Leaving a family shaken and paranoid. Broken.
Jenn had already scared the hell out of me with her home invasion story. How much darker could this woman’s life get? I spent my own teenage years reading tales of adolescents terrorized by this phenomena. I knew that the entities were unconsciously created by a person with unreleased negative emotions. A person who contained their feelings to the extreme. Jenn’s attack and the resulting family dynamic was the perfect recipe for one of these so-called “noisy ghosts.”
I took another sip of my water before answering,“They’re sort of mischievous ghosts, right? They attach to a person and haunt them.”
“Exactly,” she confirmed. “About six months after the man broke into our house, strange things began to happen.”
“Like what?” I asked, not really wanting to know.
“At first it was all electrical. Fuses would short out, the radio would turn on by itself to a station that no one in the house listened to, lights would flicker. It was just an annoyance, but one that could be reasoned away. Then the taps started up.”
“I call them taps, but it sounded more like pennies being dropped into a coffee can. At night, right around the same time every night, it would wake all of us up. Three taps, over and over again for about twenty minutes. We searched the house, all of us, and couldn’t find the cause. [A man’s voice whispers “It was me.”]** Eventually we just learned to ignore it.” Jenn shrugged.
“And then?” I prompted.
“Then one night, after the taps had woken me up I was reading to try to ignore the noise and fall back to sleep. I must have dozed off, because I opened my eyes and the book that I had been reading was hovering over me. I reached for it, like as a reflex, I wasn’t completely awake yet, and the second I lifted my arm up the book dropped onto my stomach.”
“Uh uh,” I said, needing to use the bathroom, but unwilling to leave the room by myself.
“I didn’t tell anyone about that. I had Peter sleeping on the floor in my room and he was freaked out enough as it was. But then things began to break. Like, at breakfast, Peter and I would be at the table eating cereal and talking, and the glass pitcher of milk just cracked and fell apart. We were sitting right there. My dad, of course got mad and thought that we had done something to it, but we hadn’t [Man’s voice, “Haaaaa”].
“Other things too, I was doing homework in my room one night, at my desk which sat underneath a window. I was looking down and heard creaking and looked up to see the window pane all spidered and cracked. Eventually every mirror in the house had cracks in it. My father was so upset, thought we were acting out, especially me. He wanted things to be calm and normal for my mom. She had spent time in the hospital after the attacks ‘to rest her mind,’ and he didn’t want anything to upset her.
“But then the voice came and he started to believe me and my brother.”
“What did the voice say?” I asked, holding my breath.
“It said different things to all of us. I mean, I don’t know that it ever spoke to my mother, but it would whisper to Peter when he was alone. He couldn’t understand what it said, and he made sure he wasn’t alone if he could help it. It would yell at my dad, like if he was shaving or getting clothes out of the closet, it would yell right in his ear ‘Hey!’ [Man’s voice, “Hey!”] Once it screamed, “big man!” at him.”
“But what did it say to you?” I asked, goosebumps running up and down my body.
“A lot of the time it was just nonsense. Like, dates and names. Numbers. Then other times it would try to have a conversation with me, it would ask me questions, but I just ignored it.”
“What kinds of questions?” I asked.
“Um, I don’t know, things like ‘what do you believe now, Jennifer?’ and ‘how does it feel to drown, Jennifer?’”
“What the fuck?” I demanded. “That is just too much. How did you not lose your mind?”
“I don’t know, I really think it was because I couldn’t lose my mind. I was the only one in the house keeping things from falling apart,” she takes a sip of her wine. “It was absolute insanity, though. Everyday tasks became impossible. I would get something out of the refrigerator to eat, turn my back for a moment to grab a plate and the food would be gone. I’d find it back in the refrigerator. Glasses would crack just as you were pouring juice into them. And the tapping lasted for longer and longer each night. It got to the point where I was even hearing it in my dreams.
“I think the worst thing that it did, was in school, though,” she says, her face filled with sadness.
“It followed you to school?” No. Way.
Jenn nods her head, then takes a big gulp of wine before continuing, “I was sitting at my desk in math class and all of a sudden this girl behind me starts screaming. I turn around and she is pointing to my hair, yelling, ‘Something lifted her hair up! What is wrong with her?’”
“What?” I said, confused. “What was she talking about?”
“She said she saw my hair just lift up off my shoulders and hover in the air. I hadn’t felt anything, but from her reaction and knowing everything that was happening at home, I believed her. And so did everyone else [Man’s voice in a growl, “Belief].” Jenn sighs.
“That is awful,” I say, picturing the scene it must have caused in her classroom.
“Yeah, that little experience earned me the nickname, ‘Carrie’ for the rest of high school. Well, actually, even today when I run into old classmates in town, I see them catch themselves before they say, ‘hi, Carrie.” She gives a little laugh.
“Awful,” I say again.
“It was, I mean there were already enough stories going around about me and my family after the break in. Now I was cast as a complete freak show. Luckily, there were two girls that I had grown up with, Maeve is one of them, who stood by me. I wouldn’t have made it without them.”
“How long did all of this go on for?” I asked, meaning the haunting.
“Only about, I don’t know, a little over a month,” she said, draining her glass.
“I woke up one night and there was something above me on the ceiling. It was huge and black and its body, if you can call it that, sort of moved constantly, like it was thick liquid. The voice started up, saying, ‘I’m here, you’re here, we’re both here, Jennifer. We are here together, Jennifer.”
“Hell no,” I said.
“I screamed at it, told it to go away, that’s I’d had enough, that it was ruining my life. I squeezed my eyes shut and screamed ‘You’re not real. You’ve never been real’. Of course, Peter just hid beneath his blankets, but my dad woke up from my screaming and ran into the room. When I opened my eyes, it was gone.
“The next morning, everything had stopped. We were on pins and needles waiting for it to come back, but it didn’t,” she said.
“Holy hell,” I said, shaking my head. “And that was it? Nothing else?” I asked.
“Yeah, that was it, but you know, actually, every once in awhile I – [Man’s voice, “Shhhh, here.”]” she was cut off by the sound of locks clicking, the front door opening and the shrill beeping of the alarm.
We both froze.
“Jennifer!” A woman’s voice called out, then we heard more beeping as the alarm was disengaged.
Jenn and I looked at each other and laughed in relief, “In here, mom!” Jenn called to the woman.
A small woman walked into the kitchen and placed a large bag on the counter (I was pretty sure that it was Chanel). I stood up to introduce myself and, just like her daughter she greeted me with, “You’re pregnant!”
We all took a minute to laugh at that and I agreed that I was indeed pregnant and Jenn introduced me.
“Liz, this is my mom, Nancy. Mom, this is Liz,” Jenn said.
“When are you due?” Nancy asked and turned her back to us to began rifling through a kitchen drawer.
“In August,” I replied.
“Ah, here’s one,” she said, grabbing something out of the drawer. “Here you go, keep this in your pocket, or, better yet, put it on a chain around your neck.”
She pressed something small into my palm. I looked down and saw a St. Benedict medal. “Are you Catholic?” She asked.
“Mom!” Said Jenn.
“I was raised Catholic, now I’m just a Christian,” I replied.
“Oh, you’ll come back to us. Life will bring you back,” she said with a knowing smile.
“Mom!” Jenn said again.
I said, “This is so sweet, thank you. Are you sure you want to give this to me?”
“Of course, I have more,” Nancy replied and plopped down in an arm chair.
“She buys them in bulk and has our priest bless them,” Jenn said with a little eye roll.
“It’s our best protection,” her mom said pointedly, then, “Now, what were you girls gossiping about?”
“Liz is collecting ghost stories,” Jenn says, with what I notice is a little gleam in her eye.
“Ghost stories?” Nancy asks, well, sort of demands.
“She was interested in our experience. She’s a writer,” Jenn replies, munching on a cracker.
Nancy said. “You really shouldn’t go looking for the darkness, dear. It’s best to leave it be, nothing good ever comes from talking about it.”
“Not talking about it is what lead to the problem,” Jenn says with forced cheer.
Nancy opens her mouth to reply and the light flickers above us. No, it doesn’t just flicker, it’s like the light grows brighter for a moment and then dims down and comes back to normal.
All three of us stare at the light fixture for a moment.
I want to get the hell out of there. [At this point on my digital recorder, there is electrical interference. A fuzzy white noise comes through as we are all silent].
Nancy is the first to speak. “It’s getting awfully late for a school night, where are the kids?”
Jenn takes a moment to answer her mother, “Mike brought them to The Local for dinner, I’m sure they stopped for ice cream afterwards.”
I grab my recorder off the table and say, “You know, speaking of kids, my oldest has taken to waking up at four in the morning, so I should probably call it a night.”
We all stand up and head to the door, Jenn tells me how nice it was to meet me and chat and I thank her for sharing her story and say we should grab dinner with Lyssa soon. Nancy trails behind us, her arms crossed over her chest.
Jenn disengages the alarm and unlocks the deadbolts and I cross the threshold.
Once on the porch, I turn back and thank Nancy for the St. Benedict medal. I realized that I had been clutching it in my hand.
“Wear it around your neck, dear,” she says.
I agree to and look toward Jenn to say goodbye. The look on her face stops me, just for a moment she looks almost disgusted. Angry. No, rageful. Then, it is gone and she is smiling at me.
I walk toward my car and hear the locks clicking away behind me. The beep beep beep of the alarm promising safety.
I started my car, hoping that I could make it home without wetting my pants, and wondering whether Jenn’s security system was meant to keep others out, or to hold something in.
** Text found in [brackets] was not audible by the author during the interview. It was heard upon playback and audio transcription.