All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
I’m up in my room, trying to figure out what to do with myself. It’s one of those cold, rainy evenings, the kind that makes me want to appreciate the calm and comfort of the indoors. I have a very specific image in my head of how these nights should go. I envision myself wrapped in a cashmere blanket in bed, a book in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. I’m wearing a chunky sweater and thick wool socks and the lamp on my nightstand makes my room glow softly with yellow light. The sound of raindrops hitting the old glass windows only serves to remind me of how lucky I am to be so warm and safe and happy.
But I’m unable to translate this perfect scenario from my head into real life. Believe me, I try. I go down to the kitchen to start boiling water for tea, but as I rummage through the pantry for a teabag I come to the realization that I don’t even like tea that much, so I abandon the effort. Next, I go to the study, where all the books are kept. I take a classic novel from the shelf, go back upstairs to my bedroom, and begin reading it. I feel very intellectual until I notice I’ve been reading the same line ten times and actually the book is pretty boring, so I put it down.
My parents are away for the night, staying at a bed and breakfast for their wedding anniversary. Now that I’m seventeen, they decided it was okay for me to stay home alone. I contemplate sneaking into their room, grabbing a cigarette from their secret stash, and smoking it, just for the thrill of doing something I’m not supposed to. But then I remember it’s raining, going outside to smoke would be unpleasant, and I hate the smell of cigarettes.
I go to my computer. I search vintage hair tutorials and endeavor to put my hair in pin curls, but I can’t even get one curl to form right. Defeated and losing energy, I resort to half-watching Mad Men in bed as I start to fall asleep.
Just as I am dozing off, I hear a car door slam out front. My eyes pop open and I immediately become wide awake. Any sort of sound at night when I am alone makes me nervous, and I can feel the adrenaline building in me. I consider that perhaps I dreamt the sound, but then the doorbell resonates loud and clear throughout the dark house and I’m forced to do away with this comforting prospect.
I decide to stay in bed and see if this unexpected caller will come to the conclusion that no one is home and go away. However, after a minute or two the doorbell rings again, four times all in a row. I get increasingly anxious. Maybe my parents have come home early for some reason. Maybe someone has died. Maybe there is a serial killer on the run looking for an empty place to hide out or a thief testing the waters to see if he could get away with robbing the place.
I realize that I have no option at this point but to go downstairs and see who is at the door. Before leaving my room I grab my can of pepper spray for protection. Yet when I finally make it to the front entrance, turn on the hall light, and fling the door open there is no one on the porch, just an unfamiliar car, vintage in appearance with circular headlights, driving rapidly away.
I’m starting to freak out. I jump when I see movement in the corner of my eye, but realize it is just my reflection in the full length, oak framed hall mirror. I instinctively, vainly, turn towards the mirror to see how I look. Something is disturbing about the person who is staring back at me. My face in the reflection looks emotionless, like a statue. I walk closer, so my nose is almost touching the glass. I wiggle my eyebrows up and down. The reflection does not change. I stick my tongue out. In my reflection, my mouth stays closed. I am simultaneously incredibly panicked and curious about this situation.
My mind wanders for a moment. I realize that there is an oppressive silence all around. I do not hear the rain anymore. I look at the windows, though, and raindrops are still hitting the glass. Perhaps I have gone deaf. I whisper “hello” under my breath, and I can hear my voice. I am relieved, but still very confused as to why I can’t hear the raindrops.
All at once, Frank Sinatra’s voice booms from all corners of the house. He is singing “Theme from New York, New York.” We don’t have a stereo in our house, we don’t have a stereo in our house, we don’t have a stereo in our house, I repeat over and over in my head. Tears spring to my eyes and my breathing becomes shallow.
I cannot think straight. I am panicking. I think the house must be telling me something, trying to reject me from it. I realize that all those silly stories people tell about paranormal encounters are real after all. My breathing gets even shallower.
I go to the phone. I call my mother’s cell. I tell her that she must come home immediately, that there is something not right with the house and we need to all leave as soon as possible and find somewhere else to live. She is reluctant, but she finally relents and says she and Dad will drive back tonight.
I station myself on exactly the third step that leads up to the second floor, and stare straight ahead at the front door so I will know precisely when my parents enter. I sit completely upright. I do not close my eyes. I do not move my head up or down or to the sides. Any sort of movement will alert the house even more so to my presence, I am sure.
Frank Sinatra is still singing. I try to ignore it. I count the seconds and minutes in my head. My parents should be here in an hour.
It is hard to keep my eyes from shutting. My brain badly wants to rest, but I cannot let my guard down. The doorknob of the front door finally turns. My parents enter. I run to them.
“Do you hear it? The music?” Their sudden presence has caused a well of emotion to be unleashed and I start crying again.
“Look in the mirror! Look in the mirror! Your reflection won’t change even if you change your expression.” I continue, shoving them in the direction of the mirror so they can see for themselves.
They don’t seem to understand. They don’t hear the music. Their reflections change with their movements, they tell me.
My mother sighs, puts hers arm around me, and guides me to a bar stool by the kitchen counter.
“Honey, I think you forgot to take your medicine.”