At first, I merely felt uneasy.
I blamed it on the black skies outside the windows in my “studio.” In that rural town, there were few city lights to brighten the sky. When we’d first moved there, I’d loved that: I could see the stars as I never had, when we’d lived in Los Angeles.
I bought window shades and cheery curtains, to make the room feel cozier at night. It helped a little, but I still felt as if someone was watching me. Further, I felt that one of these watchers did not like me.
That made no sense. I didn’t actually hear anything unusual when I was upstairs. It was a warm house, with lovely honey-colored hardwood floors, and cheerful floral wallpaper from the 1940’s in cozy upstairs bedrooms. I should have felt at home.
Then the pattern pieces started fluttering across the floor when I was working.
“They’re light,” I reminded myself. “It’s just a breeze.”
But the problem increased. After a couple of weeks, pattern pieces pinned to fabric started drifting just past my fingertips, where the pieces would halt and not move again.
Then I’d move closer, but the paper and fabric would start dancing across the floor again.
I went to the hardware store and bought draft-proofing supplies. I put masking tape around the window frames. I even insulated the outlets and light switches.
The problem continued. I checked for air currents, using a lit candle. It didn’t flicker, no matter how long I waited.
Then I’d start working and — predictably — the pattern pieces began their nightly waltz just beyond my fingertips.
This continued for another couple of weeks.
“You win,” I finally announced to the walls.
And, after that, I worked on my sewing downstairs. I used the upstairs studio during daytime hours only, for my oil painting.
On sunny and bright days, the upstairs felt fine. But on dark days, or as dusk approached, I again sensed someone in the rooms.
One night, I don’t recall whether my husband or I had gone upstairs to get something out of the storage boxes we kept up there. One of us forgot to turn the upstairs hall light out. I didn’t realize it until the next evening, when I noticed light reflected at the top of the stairs.
I turned the light out, and I swear I heard a funny hissing noise, like someone was angry.
The next day when I went upstairs, I noticed that my paintbrushes were our of their storage container, and wedged so they were sticking out of the studio window.
When I opened the window — which I never opened — my brushes tumbled out. All of them had been snapped neatly across the ferrule, the silver metal band that attaches the bristles to the handle.
To line them up and snap each of them exactly in the middle… well, that could not be an “accident.”
I was furious. Those were expensive brushes and the damage was deliberate. I was certain that it was retaliation for having left the lights on, that one night. I felt a little crazy thinking that, but in my anger, it made sense.
“Okay,” I raged at the empty room, “See how you like this!”
And I went through the upstairs, turning on every light. And I left them on, with my husband’s nervous agreement.
Two weeks later, feeling that I’d made my point, I turned the lights back off again.
During the time when the lights had been on, we’d heard no noises from the upstairs. The animosity we felt emanating from the top of the stairs was probably just our imaginations.
Nevertheless, my husband–who was 6’3″ and very muscular–was reluctant to go upstairs again.
After I turned the lights off, the upstairs remained blissfully quiet for several days.
But then our ghostly problems resumed dramatically, and not just at night.
Next: Part three of this story