By LELA TORGESEN WADE
She peered into the mirror to be sure her makeup and hair were perfect. In a few weeks, which seemed to be crawling slower than a snail, she’d be graduating from high school. Glancing at her wristwatch – not wanting to be late – the girl began to feel uneasy at being alone in the house. She’d never felt this way before. Her mother was at work, and her stepfather in his car repair shop a quarter mile away.
A chill swept over her as a different face replaced her reflection in the mirror. A very old woman in garments of a century ago was shouting at her furiously, but there was no sound. A witch cursing her with a spell?
The face and the cold air disappeared. The girl’s watch showed she’d been mesmerized for three minutes. She ran out to her car vowing never to look in that mirror again.
A few days later she told her mother about the incident. They went to the county courthouse and searched through old maps. They discovered that in the 1840s a house had stood almost exactly where theirs was now. Approximately a quarter mile from their house, the girl’s grandfather had discovered a small cemetery when he bought the property in the late 1940s. Large bare rocks were the only markers on the graves.
My younger brother and I got bicycles for Christmas. When the weather warmed up to 50 degrees we were allowed outside to ride them. We pedaled up our dirt driveway hill to the edge of the road, then raced like mad to the barn. I won. Then I got back to our starting point first and watched him toiling back up the hill. Suddenly a dark fog enveloped me. I saw him riding furiously toward the barn. His front tire hit a rock, and he went flying over the handlebars.
When the fog cleared, he was beside me again and I heard him saying, “Come on slowpoke, I’m gonna beat you this time!”
He did get ahead of me by a yard because I was still dazed. Then what my mind had shown me happened for real. Angry at me for laughing he yelled, “Shut up! I got hurt.”
Noting the scrape on one arm and another on his leg, I said, “I’m sorry. But you looked so funny, sailing over the handlebars like a bird. Let’s go get some medicine on those scratches.”
A dreadful storm came up. Thunder boomed and lightning crashed. “Loud enough to wake the dead,” Mama said. She and I were in the kitchen busy at some chore. Suddenly the back door flew open and the hired hand burst in, slamming the door behind him. He was sopping wet and out of breath.
Mama shouted, “What’s wrong, Roy?”
“It chased me!” he rasped in a barely audible voice. “I ran into the tool shed to stay dry. Then a ball of fire shot out of the electrical outlet and chased me!”
Mama appeared unable to take this in.
Roy repeated adamantly, still quaking in fear, “It flew straight toward me and chased me all the way to your back door!”
I heckled for several weeks until Daddy agreed to board one of his friend’s horses for the winter. I’d promised to do all the feeding, watering, brushing, tail and mane combing. I also had to saddle and ride the big gelding regularly lest he get lazy and ornery.
I headed to the barn after school that day. As I walked, my mind pictured a small mouse jumping out of the 40-pound feed bag – about three inches from my face – as I reached in for the scoop. Then it scurried out of the feed room toward the safe harbor of hay bales.
I chuckled out loud, telling myself, “I must have seen that in a television cartoon!”
I opened the screen door. Stepping up into the concrete floored room I confidently approached the bag of horse feed. My fingers were a few inches into the bag when the scene replayed itself in a flash. It was not funny the second time. But nobody was around to hear me scream.