photo by Tracy Duran
Tracy Duran Collection
I sit in the closet, hiding from the voices. I cover my ears but I still hear them. The voices seem faint and far away. I don't know what to do. The voices come at night when all I want to do is be myself. Free to go about the house. This old house. The house I made together with my husband. The voices, they keep coming. I don't know where he is. I look out the windows of the cupola to see if he is coming home yet I never see him walk down the lilac lined pathway.
I'm frozen with fear; the voices, they seem to get louder. Who are these voices? Why do they invade my mind? My only solace is to think of the music I used to play on the piano downstairs. Chopin's Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 was always my favorite to play, as it was his. I would glide my fingers across the keys without a stagger. He would sit in his chair and read his books taking in the music. Now the piano sits in the dark. The books are now dusty. The chair, it sits empty. I sit in this closet, in the dark, thinking of the song while trying to ignore the voices.
“We just want to hear you!” I hear a man's voice bellowing from far away.
“We know you're here. Just say something! Talk to us!”
I don't understand these voices. It doesn't matter where I hide these days; I hear them wherever I go. Oh, where is Charles, my husband? I wish he was here. He always would protect me, keep me safe. I want to yell for him but my throat cannot find the words or even the breath to yell for him. “Oh Charles, where are you?” I ask.
“Be quiet.” I heard a whispered voice from far but sounding closer.
I just want to scream! I think to myself, “Just go away!! Go away!” as I hold my ears and rock back and forth, hoping that this will make these voices go away. The music plays in my mind again.
“Is that music? Do you hear music?” the voice says again. Yes! It's music! It's my music! The music I long to play again. I am happier when I play. Oh to just run my fingers along the ivory keys again. I imagine myself playing the music that makes me happiest.
“Did you hear that? Was that the piano?” the voice yells in my ears. “I think it was; let's go into the parlor.” I hear a second voice.
Have I gone mad? I know things hadn't been the same since Charles left that day to fight with the 36th Regiment. He was so full of promise and confidence that warm September morning. It was the first time I was by myself. He is my only family. He wasn't the same when he came back just a few years later. No one really was. He saw so much violence and hate. That cold October evening, seeing him coming back. Broken and beaten. He still had the confidence but only because of the victory that ensued a few weeks back. Days, weeks later, Charles' broken mind started splintering further. Little things would upset him. Even playing my favorite music, our favorite music, irritated him.
His eyes used to smile; now they see right through me. Oh Charles, I wish you would talk to me. Just tell me; open up with me and let me know your pain.
I just want to disappear yet I can't. The closet is getting colder. I hear the wooden floor squeak with footsteps. They stop for a moment.
“Do you feel the cold? That isn't a draft.” the voice says again.
“Wow! That is really cold! It feels like it's coming from this way. Let's make sure it isn't a draft.”
This old house has always been drafty and cold. Why let it bother us now? "Us"? Why did I say "us"? It's just me in the closet, hiding from the voices. These voices, I hate these voices! “Go away! Just go away!” I exclaim again.
“'Go away! Go away!' Did you hear that?” the voices are now mocking me. Why? Why is this happening again? Yes, this has happened before. Each time I hid in this old closet, in the old house I shared with my husband. My lovely husband who was broken after the war. The war that made each American hate each other. Brother against brother. We were supposed to be in this together. Others had horrible ideas when it came to being “Christian,” let alone being human beings. They would treat other humans like animals, like they were nothing more than just property. We had to fight to make things right. We had to fight. I need my music again, my throat hurts more and more. Is it the fear inside of me that is aching to get out?
I hear strange noises. Noises I've never heard before. Almost like an otherworldly rustling of papers. It gets louder and it hurts my ears and my head. “Just leave me alone!” I yell again, my voice doesn't cooperate with the pleas in my mind.
“Leave me alone! Leave me alone!” the voices once again mock me.
“I think it's her! It might be Samantha! Samantha! Is that you that we hear?”
How do they know my name? These voices in my head are calling me, trying to coax me out of my hiding spot. “Of course that's my name!” I think.
“'Of course!' She said. 'Of course'! Yes!” the voices say together. What is this? What is going on? Why don't they go away? If they are intelligent enough to hear my thoughts, why can't they go away like I ask?
It's like the night Charles and I had our first quarrel after he returned home. He wasn't the same. Such a lovely husband, broken, splintered from the war.
These voices are going to be the death of me. The quarrel was fraught with anger, I remember. Charles was angry over something. What was it?
“He was angry with her because she accidentally left the windows open and the rain came in,” the voice said.
Yes, such a strange thing to be angry over. Nothing a little cloth couldn't clean up. It would dry quickly, I told him. He walked away not saying a word. Next thing I knew, I was in the cupola, looking for him once again. Forever lost.
“'Lost! It keeps coming stronger!”
Why? Why did he go? I've watched day and night from the cupola. Crying. Searching for a sign. Nothing.
“They've seen her from the upstairs windows and from the cupola. Let's look there.” the voices congregate once again. I try to hide deeper into the closet. Hiding still. Keeping still. Holding my voice and my breath. It gets colder. Colder.
The footsteps get closer. I can feel the vibration in the wood floor below me. “Try to stay quiet, Samantha. They won't hear you,” I tell myself.
“It's really cold up here, even though it's 80 degrees outside!” one of the voices exclaim, then again with the otherworldly noise. “This is where she was. Talk to us, Samantha!”
“Go away! I keep asking you to go away!” My throat is dry and it hurts but I'm still not making a noise.
I'll never forget when the men came to my door so many days after Charles left. They found him. I asked if I could see him. They said I couldn't. Not in the way he was found. He was deep in the wooded area by our home. Our lovely home.
The footsteps are coming up the stairs to the cupola. I sit still, deeper inside the closet. My throat hurting more and more. I just want to scream. No air.
“Samantha, he was found. He was shot. He must have been there a few days.”
I cried out remembering that terrible day. The day my lovely husband was found.
“Noooo!!” I scream.
“No!” the voices mimic again and again. I am so tired of the voices. I'm going to do it. I'm going to run out of this damned closet and be free. Away from the voices. Away from it all.
I ran away from those men who said my husband was shot. Killed himself. He couldn't take the pain any longer. He wanted to love me like he used to. Since the war, he was never the same. His mind was broken. I loved him still though. I went back downstairs to the parlor. Where my piano sat, no music today. Not today. Not ever again. With all my might, I ripped out the piano wire. I cut my fingers as I did so but I couldn't feel the pain. The pain in my heart was tenfold. I ran up to the cupola. I wanted to look out the windows to see if I could see him walk back. He'll never be back.
“Here we are, fellas. Here is the closet.”
I walked into the closet in the cupola. I hooked the piano wire to two hooks inside the closet. I couldn't take the pain anymore either. Just like Charles. It hurt so bad. Make the hurt go away. “Whoa! The closet door just flew open and a cold burst of air just came rushing out!” I hear the voices yell. I don't understand what is going on. The closet door did fling open but I didn't do it. Not this time. I only hear the voices; I don't see these men who say they are here with me.
“Check out the readings! These are intense! Turn on the EVP recorder!”
Very faint crying is heard on the man's digital recorder.
“Whoa! Do you hear that? She's crying! That was right before the closet swung open! This is cool!”
I don't understand how they hear me. My throat hurts; it's burning so bad now.
“We're getting really awesome documentation of this house. This is shocking!”
“Yeah! When we were in the woods, we heard his voice saying, 'Miss her,' and we heard her crying inside the house! Do you think they're both lost souls who couldn't find each other after they died?”
"Deaths"? "Lost souls"? What do the voices mean? I don't understand what is going on? I've been waiting for Charles to come back. He just needs to come back.
“Dude! It's freezing cold in here again! Check out the temperature in the closet.”
“This is where they found Samantha after she was told that her fiancé Charles was found. She went mad and literally ripped out wire from the piano in her parlor then ran upstairs, too quick for the men to catch up with her. She locked herself in the cupola. She took the wire and wrapped it around two hooks in the closet and hanged herself. In the process, she sliced her throat so severely, she nearly decapitated herself.”
“Man! That's an insane story.”
“Unfortunately it's not just a story. It happened 154 years ago. I can't imagine being so distraught to do that to myself.”
“Still, that's insane. I think we got what we need here. Let's close shop and grab all the cameras. Hopefully we've recorded everything else that happened while we were walking around. We got some awesome recordings so far though! Those EMF readings were of the chart! And the voices on the spirit box, so clear and intelligent!”
“Yeah, the 'Go away!' was so intense! I felt that energy rush right through me.”
“Same here, bud. When that closet flung open, all the hairs on my arm stood straight up! I could feel something go right through me. I feel sick but I'm sure I'll be OK in a bit.”
“Let's head on out. Be careful down those stairs; those are killer.”
It's finally quiet again. I enjoy the quiet. Peace and quiet once again. What did they say about lost souls? I couldn't understand; the voices talked too fast. Almost like it was another language. I look out the window of the cupola to stare into the darkness again. Will I see Charles? I heard them say something about Charles. Oh Charles, where did you go?
Outside the ghost-hunting guys are packing their equipment and cameras into the back of the SUV. One of the guys looks up at the house and sees an image in one of the windows of the cupola. He nudges his friend, “Dude...” and points upward.
His friend looks up, “Dude..”