When I was little my family told story about a girl who used to live in my Great Grandmother’s House.
She disappeared one day, the story goes, and the neighbors were sure her Mother had something to do with that and that her Father buried her in their basement.
That’s why my Great Grandmother got the house so cheap, that story apparently drove the price down.
In addition to the neighbors told that story to keep the curious from putting as much as a single toe on the property. The place was after all notorious.
Here’s the thing about my Great Grandmother- should put her toes wherever the heck she wanted and so my Great Grandmother bought the house- for next to nothing – and as the years went on my family would talk about how they should really dig around down there to find out once and for all if that story was true.
My six year old self used questions about the girl.
What was her name? What grade was she in and did she like cats? Did she like McDonald’s french fries and of course…
” Is she a ghost?” I used to ask hopefully.
” No. ” I was told
” But she could be buried down there, right?”
” Could be.” I was informed.
Just before she unexpectedly died I was over at my Great Grandmother’s house. I was in her sitting room playing these little glass animals you used to get for free in boxes of Red Rose Tea when I had a great idea.
Why don’t I just put the little animals back on their shelf and go dig that girl up? I’d never seen a real human skeleton before and I figured this was my last chance to see one- it was an odd feeling but I remember just knowing I wouldn’t’ be back again.
So I put one of the little animals ( it was a dog ) in my pocket for company and headed to the pantry where the door to the basement was.
I went into the kitchen and opened the basement door and was halfway down the dark stairway to the basement when I remembered to turn the light on.
So I ran back up the stairs and straight into my Great Grandmother.
” What are you doing down there? ” she asked.
” Nothing. ” I said with disappointment.
” You were going down there after that body, weren’t you.”
” Your going to break your neck running up and down those stairs in the dark. I don’t want you going down there again. Am I making myself clear? Those stairs are dangerous. You could get yourself killed running on them like that.”
I stared back at her and didn’t answer.
My Great Grandmother’s eyes, which were green and I swear to God they glowed like a cats, took in the look on my face.
She walked to her kitchen table, pulled out a chair and carried it to the kitchen window that overlooked her backyard.
” Come here. “
I walked over to the chair and she lifted me up and stood me on it. Then she pointed to a small group of her favorite rose bushes that she had planted to an existing small rose garden years ago just after she moved into her house.
I looked up into her face and she nodded.
” Now stay out of the basement. Mind me. Those stairs are dangerous.”
My Great Grandmother died a little while later. I still have that little glass dog. And her house was actually moved years later. I guess it was some kind of architectural wonder. I can’t remember if it was because of who built it but it had something to do with it being built to look like a ship inside- which was true.
The basement I assume was filled in when they redeveloped the property and they put up two new single story homes where her beautiful Victorian styled home used to be.
Salina was putting the finishing touches, with a little fortification from what was inside of her champagne glass with ” Groom ” stenciled along the side in frosty script, on her newly renovated garden when her neighbor trilled ” Toodles Girlfriend!” at her from the street.
” I thought I’d pop on by and see how you’re doing.”
Cally was the neighbor that inspired the eight foot tall fences and large black dogs ins spike collars to patrol them and at the moment she appeared at the edge of Salina’s property, Salina’s lovely Spring afternoon came to a crashing fiery mess all around her.
” I’m doing fine, I’m right in the middle of-”
” How did you do it, how could you cope with your world just, ” Cally threw her hands and tipped with her long bony fingers out to her sides ” exploding like that? You know. I get it. Men. Right? That’s what they do. It’s a shame though. I mean you were with him for 25 years. ”
Cally did not sound sorry at all. Cally sounded light and bubbly and slightly frantic.
Like a cheerleader on crack.
Salina took a breath and rolled her eyes so far back up into her head she would swear to you she could see her brains. ” I’m getting a dog. ”
Cally raced on just like Salina thought she would.
Salina could have said ” I’m getting a hit man and he’s going to take you out because right now I cannot take your crazy on top of the insanity that took up residence in my life before you opened your mouth” and Cally would have gone on babbling like a toxic river running wild after the sketchy factory squatting on it’s banks hocked up all of it’s guts.
” Well. Here’s the plus side, now that he’s gone you can get in touch with your inner Crone. Now you can be the woman the Goddesses intended you to be.”
” Yeah. The Goddesses.” Salina said biting her lip.
It was an odd enough response from Salina to get Cally’s attention for about five seconds. Not liking to be caught looking clueless or unawares for even one second let alone five she wondered if Salina was about to laugh or cry.
When one is in such a delicate state, one can never tell Cally knew.
Cally watched Salina hopefully, if not a little hungrily as she put her glass of champagne down on her potting bench and reached for her shovel. “Well. I’ve got to get to back to work, I have a few things left to do and then I’m finished so-”
Cally actually shut her mouth and her thin pale lips turned up in her version of a smile. ” You know, ” she said sounding surprised, ” Your flowers and herbs really do look nice. Especially around that- what is that? ”
” It’s a hitching post, it’s a horse’s head. My Great Grandfather brought it with him from England back in the early 1900’s,”
” Oh.” Cally said with the same kind of practiced smile that most mental health practitioners mastered before the ink was dried on their degrees. Not that Cally had one of those, she was just familiar with Mental Health services in general.
” Did he? You say he brought it all the was from England. ” I see ” Cally said as she made a beeline towards the recently deemed ” maybe ” hitching post.
” Hmmm, are you sure it’s a horse? Say, what is that smell? I smell, what is that? Apples. You don’t have apple trees do you? Where is that smell coming from? ” she stopped mid stride.
” It’s chamomile. See? I put enough down to carpet this area. When you walk across it, it gives off that smell. Nice. Isn’t it?”
Cally smiled her tight prissy smile. ” Yes. It’s very nice.”
” I must say” Cally said. ” You’ve done so much since your husband ran out on you Salina. That must have been hard. It must have been worse being he ran off with someone else.”
” You know what was really hard Cally? ” Salina dropped her shoulders, her hair fell into downturned face heavy with grief and pain. She even hiccupped a couple of times.
Cally drew herself up and smiled with sunshine literally streaming from her eyes.
She put her hand on Salina’s shoulder and then she patted it. ” No. What? What was the hardest part? I can imagine how terrible it was. I thought you were the perfect couple.”
Salina swung the shovel up and brought it down with enough force on the top of her head to bring Cally to her knees. ” The hardest part was digging that grave in front of the hitching post deep enough for two bodies. I never figured on three. Still.That was the hardest part Cally. The digging.”
Salina strolled back to the potting bench dropped the shovel against it. Then reached for her glass and with her face turned up to the now clear and not fiery blue skies she threw back the last few drops of her champagne cocktail.
When she was done she walked back to where Cally was crumpled up- and then a thought hit her.
A very important one.
What was that drink called again, Salina asked herself as prodded a clearly recently deceased Cally with her toe. Damn. What was this stupid drink called. She pulled her phone out of her back pocket and checked the app where she had found the recipe.