My childhood was predominantly filled with memories of my mother’s ancestral house. Mostly, it is because of the stories told by my grandfather about World War II and Big Foot. But, those were not the memory that was imprinted in the deepest recesses of my mind. It was the one night that I chose to bury in the memory of a nine-year-old.
The old house must have been a little more than glorified but I had looked at it as the giant that was looming to swallow me. I had no idea how many rooms but it was so huge that there were murals on the walls. The designs of the tables and chairs were so intricate that I used to pretend that they were castles of my dolls. In fact, you might find yourself easily lost in the convolution of dark corridors and towering walls and ceilings. There were two levels and I remember holding on tightly to the staircase railing fearing to fall down. It was perhaps one of the biggest in the town during that time.
The house was also my magical escape whenever carnival opens right in front of it during fiesta celebration. I would sit in the balcony and despite of my littleness, I felt like I could almost touch the people in the ferries wheel. Perhaps, that was the enticement that convinced me to sleep in the house that night without my sisters.
That was the second week of June, just a few weeks after my grandfather was buried and my grandmother was left alone in the big house. Since my grandfather died, my mother had been bribing us just to accompany my grandmother. We were all scared so nobody really wanted to sleep there.
That night, I could not remember how I ended up being alone with my grandmother. I tried to forget as much as I could the details of that fateful night hoping that it would change the course of what I experienced. The realm of ghost stories is not something I would want to dwell on.
I remember my father coming over to see me around 10:00 at night with a bag of chips. He told me before he left to go up in my grandmother’s room and try to sleep since I had school the following day. My grandmother would follow me upstairs once she’s done closing the store. The first floor of the house was converted into a variety store when my grandfather passed away.
I decided to eat the chips on the bed while waiting for my grandmother in the room. I was halfway done when I felt this tingling feeling arising on the back of my neck, and my whole body went cold. A hand was on my left leg. A very cold one with an airy feel on it. I put down the bag of chips, looked around in the dark and saw nothing. The huge cabinets with mirrors in front towered me but I saw nothing. The room has two doors but they were both closed. I was wearing shorts so I grabbed the sheet and covered my legs. I tried to shout but nothing would come out. No windows were open so there was no source of wind or anything. After I covered my leg, I felt it again. A hand, as cold as an ice with an airy feel on it was on my arm. I tried another scream but nothing came out. I was frozen and I could not even cry. I covered my whole body and buried my face on the pillow. Still, no sound would come out. Then, I felt it again at the back of my neck. Still, I could not scream. It felt like an eternity before my grandmother came to sleep beside me. I could not talk so I pretended to be sleeping and covered my whole body with the blanket.
How I fell asleep or how I managed to walk out of the room the following day was not clear to me. I think it was collective reluctance that blurred most of what happened that night. As a child, you are in charge of your imagination but one thing I was certain, what happened was not just a figment of my imagination. I remembered being back home, staring at the space while my father and mother were trying to find out what happened. I don’t think I said anything but there was an unexplainable huge purplish bruise on my leg and arm.
That house was long gone. It was sold when my grandmother died and the new owner built a new one. Sometimes, I try to convince myself it was just an imagination. But, I find myself holding an ice for as long as I can, feel my cold hand, and as always I am reminded that it did happen. That no matter how much I bury the memory of a nine-year-old, that night happened. And I feel scared again and I tremble in fear.
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