My children are young and asked me the other day if they could go visit Grandma, Grampy and their friend Peggy. It made me think of the night I met Peggy and all of her practical jokes, and I thought I would share that story here.
My brother is a couple of years younger than me. When I was eighteen, I went away to college and my brother and my parents moved into an old Queen Anne style Victorian house. It was on a busy downtown street in our midsize southern city. Most of the surrounding buildings and houses were used by businesses. My family moved in September and I wasn't able to come home until October. My first morning back, my brother, Patrick, asked me,
"Has Mom told you about Peggy, yet?"
"No. Who's Peggy?"
Peggy was the house ghost. Patrick had been showering one night shortly after they had moved in. He was leaning forward rinsing the shampoo out of his long hair and when he straightened up, he saw a young girl. He said that she looked maybe nine years old. She was standing outside of the clear shower door, staring at him. He rinsed his face and she was gone. He said that she had blonde hair and light skin and she had just looked at him.
Since then, she had taken to playing tricks on him. She would set his alarm clock to go off at 3:33am, or she would move the clock across the room. She would switch the clothes that he had set out for school. Peggy liked to play her practical jokes mostly on my brother, but she had played some on other people as well. She would sit in a window in the attic. Patrick said that he and my parents were doing yard work in the front yard one afternoon, when a lady who was walking down the sidewalk stopped to talk to them. After the introductions, she had told them that she thought they were doing a good job restoring the house. She also asked them where their little girl was. When my parents said that I was away at college, she had clarified that she meant the little girl, the one who sat in the window. The lady had pointed to the attic window. (The reason that my brother was doing yard work with my parents that day was as punishment for going into the attic and leaving that window open.) Patrick stopped telling me the story at this point to yell "I told you I didn't open that window!" to Mom in the kitchen.
As my mom came into the room, I asked
"So, why did you name her Peggy?"
"We didn't," my mom looked at me perplexed.
"Peggy is her name." My brother said. He left the "duh" unsaid.
"Yeah, but how do you know it's her name?"
Mom and Patrick just looked at each other. I think I was the first person who had asked this question.
That Thanksgiving my Aunt Jan and Uncle Randall came to visit along with their young daughter, Audrey. Audrey was tall for a seven year old and had long, blonde hair. My mom put them in my brother's room, which had a bed, but also had a futon for his friends that often slept over. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and all ate too much while Mom and Patrick told Peggy stories. After supper, Patrick had to leave. He had auditioned for a part in the Christmas play at church, and had gotten a role. They were having a small planning meeting that night, and Patrick had promised a woman, who was new to the church, and also in the play, a ride. Jan put Audrey to bed soon after. We ate some turkey sandwiches and played a rowdy game of Balderdash, and Patrick came home. He said that the meeting had gone well, and that the new woman, Lisa, seemed lonely. Then we went to bed. The next morning over breakfast, my aunt and uncle looked tired. Audrey said,
"Mama saw your ghost last night!"
"Peggy?!" My mom and brother asked in unison. We all laughed at that.
Scooping eggs on her breakfast plate, my aunt said,
"Last night I woke up because I heard a noise. I looked over at the window and thought that I saw Audrey standing at it looking out. I called to her 'Audrey, Audrey honey, come here,' but she wouldn't move. Randall woke up and I told him that I thought Audrey was sleepwalking."
My uncle had looked over to the futon and saw that Audrey was still sleeping there.
"Jan, Audrey is sleeping over here on the futon."
"Well, she's also standing over there!"
When they looked back at the window, Peggy was gone. Randall got Audrey off of the futon and they all cuddled up in the bed for the rest of the night.
We all laughed and then the doorbell rang. The room was instantly silent. We looked at each other and the doorbell rang again. We started laughing again, and my dad went to answer the door. He came back with a young woman who had a huge basket of muffins in her arms. This was Lisa. Lisa was around 26 and had recently relocated to Alabama. Patrick was right, she was lonely, and apparently already smitten with my 16 year old brother. I didn't like her.
A couple of weeks later, I finished up the semester and came home for the winter break. I noticed that my family would often talk to Peggy, attributing odd noises to her. She had become a part of the family. Old houses are often drafty and our house had cold pockets. Whenever I would walk through one of these spots, I would look down at my feet and hold my hands in front of my face while saying,
"I’m not ready to see you. You'll scare the shit out of me. I don't want to see you."
I woke up a couple of times to my brother's alarm clock going off at 3:33 in the morning and muttering, "Damn it, Peggy, give it a rest."
It never felt weird that we had a ghost, or that we talked to her. It was comforting to have her as the reason for the old house’s creaks. Plus, there was always an extra interesting story to tell people when they saw the house for the first time.
What wasn’t fun was Lisa’s rapid obsession with my little brother. I grew to hate her. She called my brother all of the time. She "joked" about them getting married. She often dropped by unannounced. She left love notes on his car. I think that she may have done more that Patrick never told us, because he began having a hard time sleeping. Then, during the Christmas play, she hung on my brother, nuzzling his neck and even kissed him on the cheek, in the middle of the Angel’s monologue. My parents had a meeting scheduled with the pastor after the New Year to talk about Lisa. The kiss moved the meeting up to the day after Christmas. At the meeting, Lisa was told to stop contacting my brother outside of church. From what my parents said, she was not happy.
I went back to school and got caught up in the new semester. I made weekly phone calls home and my mom said that Peggy seemed to be playing fewer pranks on Patrick, but that Lisa was still bothering him. He had stopped going out with his friends, and they would all stay in and play video games or watch movies. He had also begun to have a harder time concentrating, and he was still not sleeping. They were thinking about filing a restraining order. Lisa had refused pastoral counseling and church sponsored counseling and was in danger of being asked to leave. My mom also said that they had started finding mutilated animals in the yard. They thought it had been the feral cats in the neighborhood killing the birds and squirrels until the bodies of the feral cats also showed up mutilated.
I came home for spring break. I had papers to write, clothes to wash, and no money. Since the Christmas break, I had been receiving weekly letters from Lisa at school. She wrote about how much she loved Patrick, how she couldn’t wait to be a permanent part of our family. She wrote about how she couldn’t understand why we were keeping them apart, and how she was going to be with Patrick. I had saved every letter and had sent them to my parents. The week before I came home, a restraining order against Lisa had gone into effect. I had come home to a changed Patrick. He wasn’t so mellow anymore, and had developed a quick temper. He had quit his part time job, stopped seeing his girl, dropped out of track, and was writing some pretty bad poetry. He had lost weight and had nightmares when he was able to sleep. My parents had put him into counseling. There was so much that I hadn’t been told. Patrick was now getting calls from the one or two friends she had managed to make who blamed him for lying about her. One night, while I was doing the last of my laundry, I heard a yell and a thump. I walked out of the laundry room to see Patrick on the floor next to the back stairs, holding his leg. I yelled for my parents, and tried to help. Patrick puked in my lap. My parents decided to take him to the emergency room and I decided to take a shower.
I threw my puked-on clothes into the washer and ran to the bathroom. My shower was short, and while I was finishing up, I thought that I heard my parents come back into the house. I wrapped my hair in a towel and me in my robe and walked out of the bathroom. I shivered as I walked through the house.
"Mom? Dad? Patrick? Did y'all forget something? I know you didn't get out of the ER that fast."
There was no one. The door was closed and locked. Peggy, I thought. I got dressed in my pajamas and heard a weird creak; Peggy was irritating me. The house was colder than ever, in spite of the warm spring night.
"Peggy, cut it out. I am a huge chicken. Patrick will be okay, and he will be home soon."
I started watching T.V. and folding my clothes. The Jamie Lee Curtis classic seemed to freak me out more than it should have, so I switched the channel to something tame. Every so often, a board would creak, there would be a weird thump, and then she started knocking on the door. I checked and no one was at the door. It happened again, and again, and again. I got pissed. The last time, I got up and headed to the front door.
"Damn it! Okay, fine, Peggy, you win. Let’s see you! Scare the shit out of me, but since you can move stuff, you're cleaning the mess." I expected to once again see nothing.
I turned the corner, and I walked into a wall of cold air that stole my breath. There was Peggy, standing in front of the door. She was about eight, and I could see through her. Except she didn't look like she wanted to play a prank. She glared at me with green, glowing eyes. She had deep anger lines in her face. Her mouth was open and I could see sharp, pointed teeth. She held her hands out towards me, claw like, with nails too long for a little girl. She was growling at me.
"Wha...?" It was more a breath than a word. I couldn't move. I felt the tears roll down my cheeks and the pee run down my leg. Then it felt like my head exploded, I was conscious long enough to feel the worst nausea ever and then nothing.
I came to with paramedics leaning over me and my mother standing behind them crying, and talking to a police officer.
"She's not a nice girl," I muttered.
When it was established that I could answer questions, the police officer asked me,
"Ma’am, do you know where she went?"
"She was at the fucking door. She's really must not like me, and she's not a nice ghost."
The police officer asked the paramedics if I was really ready to answer questions.
My mom said, "Lisa, where is Lisa?"
My hair hurt and I was getting very grumpy. "How the fuck should I know?"
"Ma’am, can you just tell me what happened?"
"Peggy, Peggy happened. She was making noises, and she was trying to scare me, and then I saw her, with the eyes, and the claws, and the teeth, and then she did something mean to my head."
They took me to the hospital for monitoring.
Later, I was told that my mom had found me in front of the door in a puddle of urine with a pretty nasty bump on the back of my head. There was also a note on the floor next to me, along with a gun.
The note was from Lisa. She had written that her life was meaningless without Patrick, and she was going to unite them forever in Heaven, and send anyone who got in her way to Hell. I guess me being the only alive one at home was getting in Lisa's way, so she whacked me on the back of the head.
The police were never able to find her. The case has long since gone cold. Some think she was horrified by what she did to me and left town, others think she went off and killed herself.
As for me, I think Lisa had finally met Peggy, and I think whatever happened, it wasn't a joke.
This is my first submission to reddit No Sleep. No Sleep is a subreddit for "real" campfire stories. I haven't written a short story this long in a while! When I first envisioned a blog, I thought that it would be full of stories like these. I hope that you like it, and please be sure to check out the other stories on reddit. As always, my posts on the lasagna are always in progress, so I welcome comments and critiques.