When Cory and I cleaned our 1800’s farmhouse the day after our wedding, we were looking for the sort of excitement a newlywed couple would find on their honeymoon. This was our honeymoon: a side-ways rain, too-soggy-for-blazing-leaves kind of day in western New York. A busy route 31 set just in front of our house, where we dangled my white bouquet upside down from ribbon in the doorway of what would be our living room, an empty taupe box begging for life. I loved it. The smell of pine, of bleach, ripe Lemon, and age, like an antique shop: a house, that if human, would have crow’s feet, a gathering about the neck, and stories to tell.
Cory was scrubbing the film from the metal tub in the upstairs bathroom when the doorbell rang. I don’t remember what I was doing, except that I was the one who ran down to the front door. It’s so cliché that I’m embarrassed to admit it: No one was there.
I called for Cory. He laughed, just like the stereo-typical guy in Paranormal Activity 2. Then we went back to cleaning. I was upstairs, in the room with the second-story porch, what I called the “front room,” when I lifted the dust-covered blinds and found a collection of dead bees (though the cliché is usually flies). There must have been fifty, a crusty bunch, resembling large clumps of pollen.
I called for Cory.
The doorbell rang again. “You answer it this time,” I said, but followed along.
And he opened the door as though someone would be there.
I would have been ready to resell the house, except for this: I love to be scared.
So, I vacuumed up the dead bees.
And he disconnected the doorbell the next day, after a few more phantom rings. “A short in the wire,” he said, excusing it. Since, we haven’t heard any knocks, so I suppose I believe him.
My nieces, sister, and sister-in-law are afraid to babysit at my house alone at night. I am not afraid unless I’m watching horror movies. Though when Johnny was a cherub-faced 6-month-old like Sammy is now, he would gaze up at the dining room chandelier, and I would say, “Hi Grandma,” as a way to comfort myself. Maybe it was not my grandma—maybe it was the dangling spheres casting reflections that made him coo.
Cory is too skeptical to humor me. The squint of his eyes and the smirk on his face call me out. And it’s fine. Sammy will probably give me the same look, but his little form, the warm weight of his body, calmed me as I watched Paranormal Activity 2 at least.
And I know when Johnny says, “Mommy, I want to watch a spooky Thomas the Train,” I have company.