Penny’s Birthday Surprise

Penny looked up at the worn white house, with its dirty, chipped paint.  Ivy crawled up its sides.  Every window was broken, except for one, the upper right hand window.

“Grandpa, how come that house is so dirty?  Penny said.

“Because no one has lived there in a long time so it got run down,” Grandpa said.

“How come no one lives there?”

“Because of Old Maid Micknely.”

“Who’s that?”

“Old Maid McKinley was the last person to live in that house.  People say she went crazy.  My dad used to tell me stories about her from when he was a little boy.

“Oh tell me Grandpa, tell me!” Penny begged.

“Well, when my father was a little boy Old Maid Micknely and her daughter used to live in that house.  Great Grandpa became could friends with both of them and he and Old Maid McKinley’s daughter used to play together all the time.  Then, one day, Old Maid McKinley’s daughter was going to come over to Great Grandpa’s house to play, but she never showed up.  When they called Old Maid Micknely she said she hadn’t seen her since she left the house.   The police searched and searched, but the 8-year-old girl was never found.  It was then that people thought Old Maid Micknely started to go crazy.  She used to sit by that window in the upper right hand corner of the house with a candle all day and all night, rocking back and forth in her chair.  Everyone said that she was waiting for her daughter to come home.  She waited for years and years, but her daughter never came home.  Then one day someone noticed that the candle in the window had burnt out.  So they went to check on Old Maid Micknely.  That was how her body was found, upright, in the still rocking chair.  The townspeople decided to bury her in the front yard, so she could keep watching the road.  She had no family, no one to mourn her, and no will. So the bank seized the house, but no one wanted to buy the house that Old Maid Micknely died all alone in.  No one wanted their children playing over her dead body in the front yard.  So there sat the house, alone and empty for years.

One day, when I was about 16 years old me an a few buddies decided to go and explore Old Maid McKinley’s house.  When we went inside everything was exactly as Old Maid Micknely had left it, just a little dustier.  We went upstairs to the window and found Old Maid McKinley’s rocking-chair sitting by the window.  It was so strange; the chair wasn’t dusty at all, everything around it was, but not the chair. On the windowsill was a candle and a box of matches, just like Old Maid Micknely would have had. So one of my pals decided to light the candle and right when he did chair began rocking back and forth.  We could her the chair creaking against the floor as we ran down the stairs and out the door.  We never went back, but that candle burned for the rest of the week.  Great Grandpa joked that Old Maid Micknely was home because the candle was glowing, but he didn’t even know the half of it.

“Did anything ever happen after the candle went out Grandpa?”

“Only once, on your mother’s 8th birthday.”

“What happened?”

“The day your mother turned 8 years old Old Maid Micknely must have been home because a candle glowed in the upper right hand window of the house all day and all night.”

“Oh Grandpa,” Penny said, “that’s silly.  You’re just trying to scare me, because it’s my birthday too, but I’m too big to believe in ghosts.”

“Suit yourself, but that is a true story Penny.”

“Sure it is Grandpa,” said Penny doubtfully.  As they began to head for home Penny turned for one last look at Old Maid McKinley’s house and she suddenly started to believe her Grandpa’s story.  It would seem that Old Maid Micknely had come for a visit on Penny’s birthday too.

Loyalty Lies (Part 1)

Jane took a deep, nervous breath.  She looked at the vast majesty around her.  The scent of beautiful flowers wafted up as she walked the path leading to the large white house with its painted shutters.  Jane remembered walking past the iron gate as a child, wondering what it would be like to be the only child of a governor, rather than the eldest of five wheelwright’s children. Governor’s children lived in luxury, wheelwright’s children begged for jobs as the governor’s maid.  Slowly Jane took hold of the warm brass knocker, bringing it down upon the door.  Her stomach churned violently within her, as she heard the crescendo of footsteps in the hall.  The door opened softly, and there he stood, Ben, the young, strong, handsome butler.  Jane tried not to meet his eyes as she spoke.

“I came to see Governor Trippingdale about a job,” said Jane quickly.

“Jane, how nice to see you, it’s been awhile.  Please, won’t you step inside, I’ll see if the Governor has a moment to speak with you,” replied the always friendly Ben.  Jane stepped into the doorway of the large house.  She thought about how much work it must require to keep up such a house, and became very hopeful.

“Little Janey, how nice of you to come by,” called a blustering voice from around the corner.  Jane looked.  From down the hallway came Governor Trippingdale.  He was a fat, happy sort of fellow, with a round face and sparkling eyes, always happy to see everybody.

“Hello Governor, it’s been a long time.  How have you and your family been?” Jane asked in her sweetest, friendliest manner, keeping her eyes to the floor to show respect.  She really had never known the Governor that well.  His wife had taught Sunday school for a year, and Jane was in her class a long time ago.  Other than that, Jane and her mother delivered clothes they laundered for the Trippingdale’s, but those visits were always brief and to the point.

“Oh, I look around me and see our thriving New York colony and am pleased.  How are things out in your neck of the woods?” replied the Governor.

“Well to be truthful, things are tight and I have found myself in need of a job.  You see, my father was in an accident about two days ago.  He broke his arm, and isn’t going to be able to do much work for a few weeks. I hoped you might be needing some help around here.  I’m good with all kinds of different things.  I can do house-keeping, gardening, or if you need some help with the children I can do that too.”

“Well Janey, I think your visit has come at a purely providential time.  You see, one of my maids had a family emergency and took a boat back to jolly old England about two weeks ago.  I’ve been hoping someone would come along to fill the position, and you might be just the girl. You’ll be sure to mind your business and do your job now, won’t you?”

“Oh, yes sir.”

“Well good, you start tomorrow.  You’ll get two shillings for a good days work.  If things go well we’ll hire you on indefinitely.  How does that sound?”

“Oh, that’s wonderful, thank you so much.  I’ll be here bright and early tomorrow morning.”

To Be continued . . .

Shattered Reflections

When I was very little there was a red jay that used to come to our back porch every day, all summer long.  We had a glass sliding door that lead out onto the porch and a wood-railing that wrapped around the porch.  Every morning, like clock-work, that bird would perch upon the wood-railing, look at the glass, and then with all his might he would spread his wings and fly head-first into the glass door.  He would bounce off the door, then go back, sit on the railing, and do it all over again.  Over and over again we would hear the ping, ping, ping of his little beak hitting the glass. He would fly at that glass door from sun-up to sun-down every day until it was time for him to fly South, but we knew he would be back the next summer.  For 5 years we saw that bird, he chipped our glass door a few times.  For a while we could not understand what he was doing then we figured it out. That bird saw his reflection in the glass and he was trying to fly through the glass and get to himself.  A few years ago the red bird stopped coming to our house.  I don’t know what happened to him, maybe he died, maybe he finally broke through the glass.  I guess well never know, but I’ll never forget the bird who almost broke his neck trying to shatter the reflection he saw of himself.