In 1994, my husband and I were living in our first home in my hometown of Monticello, Illinois. Our house was a tiny starter home and I had two young sons and another who was due within weeks. We were anxious to find and buy a bigger house before the birth of our third child. I spent my days searching for a suitable home (within our modest budget). One day, our realtor called and said she had a wonderful home that was going on the market that very afternoon and that several people were already interested in it. It would be perfect for us, she thought. I quickly raced over to see the home.
It was an old farmhouse situated on a huge lot. The yard resembled a park with very old trees and the actual home was set back away from the road, making it safer for young children to play. A huge, covered front porch looked inviting and I could feel the adrenaline begin to pump as I thought of the fun my boys would have with all that space. The realtor had promised that it was in our price range as well.
A quick walkthrough revealed a finished basement complete with a bathroom and a dry bar (perfect for coloring and art projects, I thought), great for a family room, a main floor with two bedrooms and a bathroom, and a completely finished attic with two more bedrooms and tons of storage. As I walked through the home, I had the overwhelming feeling that there was another living person (other than the realtor and myself) in the house, listening and waiting. I told the realtor, “Someone is home.”
“No,” the realtor answered, “No one is here.” I could simply feel that someone was there. I shrugged it off, and grew anxious when the realtor again mentioned how many others would see the home the same day.
Without consulting my husband, I made an offer on the spot and went home to call my husband with the news. Within hours, the realtor called me and said, “You know what? Someone was home. The child that lived there was hiding in a closet. He was worried that he would be in trouble for being home when the house was shown, so he is in his bedroom closet.” Luckily, that was the one closet I hadn’t inspected – or we would have given each other quite a scare! I attributed my strange feelings to the presence of the little boy.
Within weeks, we moved in. On moving day, my best friend’s husband was helping us move extra boxes to the attic. He appeared a bit shaken after the first trip and I asked what was wrong. He said, “Is this house haunted?” I said, “Why?”…and he wouldn’t elaborate.
Odd things began happening within days of our arrival. I had moved the two little boys into one of the two downstairs bedrooms. They had always shared a room, and even though we had the two upstairs bedrooms, they were too little to navigate stairs at night and it just felt right putting them closer to me. Next to their room was the bathroom.
My oldest son was three-years-old and his brother was two (remember I was also due to have my third in a few weeks). One night, early on, my three-year-old began crying in the middle of the night. I raced in and asked what was wrong. He pointed to the long hallway visible from his bed and said, “There is an old lady who keeps going into the bathroom. She is carrying a big bowl. She is all blue. She keeps waking me up.”
I was startled, but remained calm and comforted him. I did move his bed so he couldn’t see directly into the long, dark hallway. Many nights, however, he ended up sleeping in my bed.
At night, in my downstairs bedroom, I lay awake and listened to the voices above me. Human voices. I could make out a woman’s voice – talking in a calm, modulated manner. She didn’t seem to be upset. Yet, I never once could make out a single word. It was exactly as if someone had left a television on in the room above me… but those rooms were empty. Freaky, but not threatening.
As a family, we spent lots of time in the basement family room. It was huge – the length of the house and we kept the boys’ toys and larger riding toys there. Several times a week, we would be all together, in the basement. My husband and I would sit on the couch watching TV, and the two boys would play on the floor. Suddenly, we would hear terrific crashes coming from upstairs. We had no pets at that time and could hear no one walking around. One of us would race upstairs in alarm, thinking something huge had broken, only to find nothing disturbed. Often the sounds coming from upstairs was like many hard things rolling around on a wooden floor. It sounded like lots of marbles spilling and rolling around on hardwood. This didn’t make sense to us because, at that time, the previous owners had installed carpet everywhere in the house including the bathroom.
We heard this many times over the years. No one felt comfortable in the attic rooms. I tried to have an office in one of the bedrooms, but found that my computer would not work correctly and often would randomly begin to print out symbols – pages and pages of symbols that didn’t appear on my keyboard. I moved my office to the basement.
To be continued…
Christina Sanantonio is a teacher and writer who lives in Central Illinois. She has worked in the field of family violence prevention for the last five years and prior to this, she taught kindergarten for 10 years. She has three teenage sons.