Diary of My Dream House Nightmare

Story by Jaime Shea

My day started abruptly today, 6:30 a.m., just like every other school day. I peel myself out of my warm bed, start a pot of coffee with one eye open, drag myself up the stairs, and begin the peeling of my kids from their cozy beds. Most days I am an acting single mom — my husband, Ben, works in television and travels for the bulk of the month.

I start with my 14-year-old daughter, Tori, who begs for “5 more minutes.” I make my way down the dark hallway to the boy’s room. Bridger, age 8, is my morning child — he wakes up smiling. Jaxon, age 4, is not in his bed — he is in mine, as he is every morning, everyday. I know parenting magazines stress the importance of preschoolers sleeping in their own beds; however, I do not believe those parents/ writers have lived in a haunted house.

Four Years Ago Today: “Ben. Slow down. There!” I double checked the directions. “This cannot be the one.” My eyes skimmed over the scribbles: Highway 64; Lamar; Cabin Creek; around sharp curve; big field; cow mailbox; up on hill. My heart pounded. “This is it, Babe. Turn here!”

There she stood, tall and proud in ageless charm. So beautiful and wise – colonial and white. She was safely nestled in a half-moon of massive, century-old oak, black walnut, and pecan trees. The gnarled branches hovered, curled and twisted around her and cast ominous shadows on her nostalgic frame. Long golden fingers of October sun parted the Autumn leaves and pointed at her as if to announce, “There she is. Her Majesty.”

My husband braked quickly, cut the wheel up and around the dirt drive. We parked at the foot of the small hill, scrunched down in our seats, and cocked our necks sideways over the dashboard.

We stretched our eyes to the top of the windshield in attempt to catch a glimpse of the tip-top edge of the towering rock chimneys on either side of the antebellum house. The hand-stacked stone chimneys seemed to lean slightly into the house. They looked as if they were bookends holding a volume of history.

Neither of us spoke for several seconds. We did not leave the car. We sat right there and quietly absorbed every detail. The grassy hill, the airy height, the shadowy trees, the sun rays, the stone chimneys, the chipped white paint, the green shutters, and the dark wood double front doors – each one on opposite ends of the shady front porch.

“Look at that porch!” we shouted in unison. The brief yet uncomfortable silence was broken and we pushed ourselves out of the car, feet-first into the dirt, through the dewy lawn, up three steps, and onto the porch of my dreams.

The fall air was crisp and smelled of deep forest wood – strange considering the house was in the heart of the town. I walked the length of the porch – end to end – touching every white post and dragging my hand across the dusty railing. I thought, “This will be my porch soon.”

“You know what’s weird, Honey? I have lived in this town over half my life. I have driventhissameroadhundredsoftimesand I don’t remember this house. How could I miss it? It has obviously been around for … a while.”

I was perplexed. I felt as if we had just stepped on the toes of an eery secret; yet I felt as if I NEEDED this house! I had not even crossed over the threshhold and I knew. My husband turned the doorknob, we stepped into the old kitchen, took one look at the charming fireplace and before the door stopped creaking– one timid step later, “Sold!”.

November 15, 2002. Ben and I unpacked the very last box. One month, one day, six hours and three minutes after we moved into our two-story Colonial home, we sat down to relax (and lightly drool.) I flipped mindlessly through the sludge of late night television. It was close to 2 a.m., the kids were sound asleep, we were officially moved-in, and the relief pulled me deeper into the soft recliner.

That’s when I heard it. The pitter-patter stomp, pitter-patter stomp of my middle son, Bridger, making his way down the stairs behind me. Ben’s couch snoring stopped suddenly when I yelled over my shoulder towards the stairs, “Get. Your. Buns. Back. In. That. BED. NOW!”

I didn’t hear him walk away but I felt his shadow move from the doorway away from the back of my head. “It’s late. You’re five now. And big boys sleep in their own rooms. Thank youuuu. ” My voice chased him back upstairs.

Half a minute later I drifted into a light sleep. I awoke startled to: Boom. Thump- thump-thump-thump. Boom thump. Boom thump-thump–directly overhead.

My husband mumbled a faint, “What’s that?” I slid clumsily out of my lazy chair and dragged myself up the stairs gaining momentum ready-to-pounce on my son who was obviously bouncing a ball up and down the hallway at the top of the stairs.

“What do you think you are doing!” was ready to spill from my lips as I rounded the corner and threw open my son’s bedroom door. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end when I saw both my boys in deep peaceful sleep.

I flew down the hallway, flipped on the light in my daughter’s room – out, snoring! I ran down the stairs two-at-a-time, made a bee-line for the couch, plopped down on my husband’s feet, and pulled the blanket up just under my eyes. That is when I first realized we were not alone.

January 5, 2003. ‘Dear Karen, I was referred to you by my mother who saw your article in the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette. I was hoping your group, Central Arkansas Society of Paranormal Research (CASPR) could check out our house. I think it’s haunted.

‘For the past two-and-a-half months the following things have happened: we hear footsteps up and down the stairs at all hours of the night, a ball bouncing at 2 a.m. when everyone is asleep, we hear a baby crying in an unplugged baby monitor, the doorbell goes off at random times during the day, my good natured dog barks ferociously at the air, my middle son has night terrors and reports hearing voices that keep him up at night, my husband and baby-sitter saw the tail-end of a Victorian type dress float up the stairs, a thin mist of smoke has been spotted in the kitchen by both my brother and me.

‘At night when I am just falling asleep I feel a small hand stroking my hair, and footsteps running around my bed. My husband and I heard pounding on the wall above the head of our bed just last night. Doors slam. Cabinets creep open. Batteries drain in minutes.

‘At least twice a week I find dimes stuffed in my shoes, and in my bed (I know it sounds funny – but it’s freaking us out.). I hope you can help in some way. I just want a good night’s sleep. Oh, and I probably should mention that our home was built in the 1800s, was the original stagecoach stop in Lamar, and is rumored to have been a speakeasy, and a jail at one time.

‘There is a Confederate/Civil War cemetery on our land about 200 yards to the back side of our house and a old-thick rock building that historians say was the original kitchen. I hope this helps paint the picture of what we have been going through. If you can help, please contact me ASAP! Sincerely, Jaime Shea.’

Mid-January 2007. We have just completed twelve hours of interviews. Telling and re-telling our events to the director of the Discovery Channel series, “A Haunting”. Ben, Tori, Bridger, and I sat in our crowded duplex apartment–turned TV studio-for-the-day. We had lived in Joplin, Missouri for six months when we got the call from the production company.

For twelve hours we relived moving in, the ghosts, the CASPR investigation, the cleansing, the wreck, the putting-the- house-up-for-sale-dilemma, and ultimately the move. It all seems so surreal. In a strange way I miss that house.

May 15, 2007. The third set of renters have officially moved out of our Lamar house. The listing on our home expired with not even a good bite from a potential buyer. The renovations are nearly complete. I want my house back. This time we will only put good vibes into this house. We will rely on God for comfort and protection. We will make it work–financially, we have no choice.

September 18, 2007. We’re back. Ben and I officially unpacked our last box (and shoved the rest in the shed). Sunk exhausted in our easy chairs. It’s 2 a.m. and the house has been quiet for the most part. Except for the occasional stomp, bounce, creek, thump, and the episodic blasts of unexplained musical scores from the next room, life is pretty normal.

I feel a strange sense of peace with the house. I think we all do. We have come to accept our “spirit friends” as extended family (that I don’t have to feed).

In fact, the kids are getting along better than ever! I mean why wouldn’t they? When the neighbor’s pet gerbil ends up fully baked in our microwave, my favorite vase gets smashed by a Nerf football, or my husband’s cell phone is found floating in the bath water – instead of blaming each other, they bat their lashes, grin and exclaim, “Maybe the ghosts did it.”

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