A Haunted Life
by Eric J. Krause
I knew the house was haunted the minute I entered. I could feel the presence of . . . something not normal. I said nothing to my husband, who looked like a kid in a candy store. This was his dream home, and I wasn't going to ruin it with my silly superstitions. I happily agreed when he told the real estate agent that we'd take it.
During our first few years, I often sensed the ghosts, but they left me and mine alone. When the big bang up happened there'd been no warning signs. One minute I was in doing the dishes after a quiet dinner with my husband, Rick, and the next I was surrounded by screaming ghosts.
Most of the words were blurred, as if they existed in white noise, but I did pull a few out. ". . . not fair . . ." "You can't . . ." "I never . . ." ". . . don't understand . . ." Great, our house was haunted by a family with teenagers. Rick and I had talked about kids, but neither of us was ready. I certainly didn't want to be soured on the idea by a family of ghosts, even if I was just an observer.
Things progressed from there. Things moved on their own, lights flickered on and off, and disembodied voices lulled me to sleep on an almost nightly basis. I wished I could have discussed it with Rick, but we didn't talk anymore. I don't know why. There'd been no knock-down, drag-out fight or anything like that; we just stopped communicating. I'd occasionally see him crying, but he wouldn't look at me, so I couldn't bring myself to comfort him.
Life went on. Most of my waking moments went towards trying to observe the family of ghosts. I was getting pretty good at listening to their conversations and watching them go about their ghostly lives. They thought they were still alive because they were as mundane as most people I knew.
At some point, I made two huge discoveries, both involving my husband. The first part was that, even though we were still married, I'd lost track of him. The second was the ghost husband. At first I thought it was my father-in-law, but the more I concentrated, the more I eavesdropped, I realized it was Rick himself. He'd aged twenty years since the last time I saw him. Which was when? Last week? No. Last month? No. I couldn't remember. Whatever was happening, I needed to figure it out once and for all.
As the ghost family, including my husband, sat down to their nightly meal, I jumped up on the table. They'd have to see me now, and they did. I expected them to try to scare me away, or at the very least disappear into thin air. Instead, they all leapt up from their chairs, yelled "Ghost!" and ran from the room. Just as I thought; they didn't know they were dead.
After that moment, the house changed. I still found some of Rick's favorite things, though, like him, they looked like they'd aged two decades. My stuff was all gone. New furniture, clothes, household accessories, knick-knacks, and all kinds of other crap I'd never before seen filled the house. I wanted to walk around and finger it all, but something drew me to the corner of the garage, Rick's workshop area, like a beacon.
A plaque hung on the wall, and I knew right away I didn't want to look at it. But I couldn't help myself. Our wedding picture, along with a few snaps of just me framed a bronze engraving. It read: "Mary Walter-Jackson. RIP. My lovely wife. I'll never forget you. 1968-1991."
Tears stung my eyes. No. That couldn't be true. A calendar hung nearby, and I saw January 2011. No, no, no. This couldn't be true.
A light exploded out in the in middle of the garage, right where my old Mazda hatchback used to sit. I stared at the light for a few seconds, letting my tears dry away. It wasn't just a bright ball of white light, but a long tunnel. And it was beautiful. Without looking back, I started towards it.