dVerse Poets #2 – Halloween: The Attic

This is for the Halloween Poetics on d’Verse Poets Pub.  I have submitted one already but couldn’t resist doing another. Here is the link for the fun at d’Verse:  http://dversepoets.com/2015/10/20/10958/


The attic in Bessie’s house was always cold. Even in July when all other attics in the world were housetop ovens, this one was cold.  Bessie was my father’s mother – Grandma Hayes.  She was a tiny, feisty wizened little woman and stronger than an ox.  Even at 80, working in the field, she left grown men behind in her dust.  And her attic was always always cold.  None of us liked going up there for anything.  We’d rock paper scissors and the loser had to go.  Slowly on the up trip, racing down the steps as if the devil were nipping at the heels.  Once, my cousin Tommy and I got into a fight; ugly fight rolling around in the red dirt – noses bleeding, tee shirts ripped.  I lost.

Grandma Hayes’ youngest grandchild died, died in that house one cold rainy Christmas.  One morning she was sniffing and sneezing and whiny – no one could touch her because she ached so badly.  The family doctor was called and came bringing into the small Christmas tree smelling room, the smell of rain and cold.  He said she had a cold and gave her baby aspirin and told her mother to give her another dose at bedtime.  In the morning, she lay still under the covers – cold and blue – her long curly red hair dank over the pillow.  Her sister in bed beside her ran screaming down the attic stairs, ‘”Sandra won’t wake up Sandra won’t wake up Sandra….”.  Up the stairs the adults ran.  Curled into herself, smaller than a terrier puppy, she lay making barely a dent under the quilts.  A few days later she was buried in the family cemetery.  Laid to rest in the red mud, the mud oozing down onto her casket.  The cause of death was an aspirin overdose.  No one knew she had eaten a bottle of the orange flavored baby aspirin for candy a few days before she died.

I lost the fight.  I had to go out of the blazing July heat up into that cold attic to fetch down a jar of watermelon rind pickle.  I stood before the door breathing fast and trying to calm myself.  I grasped the door knob and began the slow ascent of the narrow stairs.  Almost at the top, you could look through the railings and see the bed.  No, I said to myself. No.  I leaned my forehead against the rail and forced my eyes open.  NO NO NO.  Across the dusty pillow was the glint of long curly red hair, picking up the lone sun beam that had strayed through the tattered curtain.  I could not make myself go forward and I was afraid to turn my back.  I panted, almost faint with fear.  Not there not there not there.  I saw her small face.  And then, she opened her eyes.

Summer heat becomes
frost and fear – the scariest
ghost stories are real.


free public domain

free public domain

26 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 15:52:37

    Oh, you scares me with this … so real.. I just wonder, was that child a ghost, was it imagination?… I guess the pickle was forgotten… 🙂


  2. Glenn Buttkus
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 16:03:13

    We have ghosts, at least walk throughs from parallel dimensions in our home; rife with portals I guess. Wow, this is a bang-on scary haibun, heightened by the realistic treatment given the prose; something I attempted with mine; you definitely succeeded.


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 20, 2015 @ 16:07:45

      I once lived in a house where a bedroom door would not stay closed and several times a week, it sounded like someone up in the attic opened a huge bag of marbles — banging and rolling on the floor. happened several times a week. After a bit, my roommate and I didn’t hear them. The first time the man who became my husband visited and heard it, he jumped about five feet in the air. A couple of years ago my Grandma Hayes’ house was torn down. I for one was glad to see it go.


  3. Bodhirose
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 16:37:20

    Holy moley…that was one spooky story…and true…at least to your young, impressionable self! I believe that children are especially sensitive to spirits and such that walk among us. I would have been scared to go up there too. A great haibun!


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 20, 2015 @ 16:41:21

      It still scares me, the stuff of nightmares. Not sure if it was real then but it is real to me now. I have a dark green ring around my ordinary brown eyes. A lovely Greek lady years ago told us that ring meant I have the second sight. I think it really means I have a huge imagination! But sometimes, people look at me strangely if they look me in the eyes.


      • Bodhirose
        Oct 20, 2015 @ 16:58:47

        Interesting about those eyes of yours, Toni. Maybe some people think you’re wearing special contacts or something. I’ve seen some unusual, unnatural looking eye colors on some people. Or maybe you do have a special sense…nothing wrong with that.


        • kanzensakura
          Oct 20, 2015 @ 17:29:31

          I think I do. I seem to be more sensitive to places and people and am known for calling people out of the blue because I have a feeling. I’ve also made people uncomfortable by saying something, almost in reply to what they are thinking. I’ve grown more discreet in my old age and don’t intrude because sometimes, I think it is intrusive. Ny father told me I had cat eyes because there are also some small gold flecks in them which is only seen if close up to me. My optometrist has remarked on them.


  4. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 19:23:20

    Show me your pearly white, Kanzen. This has a quiet beginning then builds to an unexpected, but perfect twist. The poem at the end is a perfect warning / a scare / a Halloween preview. Take your pick. This is a serious Halloween contender. 😈 😀


  5. Sanaa Rizvi
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 19:26:35

    Oh this reminds me of ghost stories we used to tell around bonfires 🙂 I do believe this was real.. well penned! 🙂


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 20, 2015 @ 19:28:19

      Thank you. It was real or at least, it was real in my 10 year old imagination. It is still the stuff of the occasional nightmare all these years later. It was fun to tell those stories around those bonfires, wasn’t it?


  6. Grace
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 19:31:59

    How scary and frightening, yikes ~ The narrative is well done Toni ~ Good thing I am not alone when I am reading this ~


  7. Mary
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 19:42:33

    I kept reading this faster and faster, and the ending….oh my…I am glad I am not in the house alone; and I am glad it is not late at night. The eyes opening about did me in. Very effective.


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 20, 2015 @ 20:02:20

      Years ago, I used to tell, oddly enough, a younger cousin, Ghost stories. He and I both have the same birthday, went to Woodstock and other adventures. I emailed him this for fun. He responded, now I know why I have trouble sleeping! It is still the stuff of the occasional nightmare.


  8. Candy
    Oct 20, 2015 @ 23:24:25

    this is the stuff of nightmares!


  9. Victoria C. Slotto
    Oct 21, 2015 @ 13:51:54

    I do believe that what you experienced was true. I had an attic experience myself back in the seventies when I was a college student. There have been reports of an entity, of strange sounds up in the attic above our dormitory. I went up to fetch my art supplies and behind the large standing cabinet I heard a shuffling noise. I got the heck out of there. The noises stopped after the nuns had mass said for the person who was haunting us.


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 21, 2015 @ 17:05:32

      It has the been the stuff of nightmares for many years. Obviously my other cousins felt or saw something because it was always a struggle to get one of us to go up there to get something. Even Grandma Hayes didn’t like it. Except for the shallow shelves to keep canned goods and pickle, the room was left as it was.


  10. mishunderstood
    Oct 22, 2015 @ 18:20:36

    I think the comments scare me as much as your haibun. How can we not believe when so many of us have had some type of encounter with the other side?
    I really enjoyed the story in your prose but wished it wasn’t true!! Yikes.


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