When you live in an old house, weird things happen. Our house, which we call The Falling Down Farmhouse, certainly qualifies. On paper, it’s not that old. The tax man says it was built in 1931. A former owner has explained that, actually, it’s built from parts and pieces of what were officer’s living quarters from Ft. Spokane in Kettle Falls, WA that was built in the late 1800’s. That explains a lot about how ours is built, or I should say, not built but more about that another day. Suffice it to say, there is a rich history here and with that comes some other phenomena. It seems to have come with some hangers on.
We didn’t notice it right away, but after settling in we realized there were some odd things going on. The first time, we were sitting in the kitchen and heard someone walking up the old wooden staircase. We looked at each other then ran in to look up the stairs. No one was there. We shot up the stairs and both the bedroom doors were closed and no one was up there. Weird.
Sometimes, we hear the upstairs doors open and slam shut. Again, no one is up there but we both hear it. We always make sure the doors are latched shut so that the cat won’t hide away up there and leave surprises. Although we hear the doors open, they are always securely latched.
Other times, often late at night, I am working at my desk in the little office I use. On several occasions, I hear the kitchen door open and close. It scrapes along the bottom threshold and has a loud, distinctive sound. I get up and go to check it out (I’m not fainthearted that way). The door is locked, deadbolt secure and Mark tucked in asleep in the bedroom. Sometimes there has been fresh snow on the ground and I can see there are no footprints. It oogs me out a bit, but I return to my desk and try to shrug it off.
More than once, my husband has felt someone grab his shoulder, and once his foot. The shoulder thing happens when he was standing in a certain place in the kitchen. The foot grab happened when he was lying in bed. We also smell fresh cigarette smoke. We don’t smoke, nor do we have neighbors nearby (quarter mile away is the closest), so it is unexplained. Sometimes we both smell it, and sometimes when I am home alone it happens. It isn’t stale smoke that could be emitted from something we brought home. It is fresh, acrid smelling cigarette smoke.
Recently, we had a friend here for a barbecue. He told us later than when he came into the house, he felt someone grab his shoulder and at the same time, he smelled fresh cigarette smoke yet no one else was in the house. He was standing in the same place in the kitchen my husband was standing when he was grabbed. We now call that spot The Portal.
We have decided to call the “visitor” Doris Roberts. We would rather think of “it” as a friendly, funny grandma type who is hanging around than some malevolent being out to exact revenge or evil upon us. Doris hasn’t really been too active in the past couple of years except for scaring the bejeezus out of our friend last summer.
That is, until the other day. I was searching for something that was buried in the freezer in the kitchen. I was taking out things one by one and stacking them on the counter nearby. I reached in and pulled out a little antique perfume bottle (pictured) that was crammed behind a pile of frozen vegetables. It was one that I had bought years ago. It usually lived in the kitchen window sill displayed with some other pretties. I hadn’t noticed it was gone as I’m always moving things around, or selling my treasures on eBay. I was stymied though when I pulled it out of the freezer. My husband was sitting at the kitchen counter and was as surprised as I was. I asked him if he put it in there as a joke and he swore he didn’t. I believe him, as that is not his typical type of prank. We looked at each other and said “Doris!” at the same time. Apparently, she was redecorating or stashing it away for safekeeping. No one has been to our house since the time I had seen and dusted it in the window sill either (we don’t get much company out here in the farmlands). There is no one else who could have moved it.
Our perfume bottle mystery will remain just that, a mystery. I’ve been trying to pay closer attention to any errant sounds or smells in the last few days since this happened. Nothing else weird has happened. Recently, we have been replacing parts of the house. New doors (that don’t scrape), windows, paint and the like. Maybe Doris doesn’t like that. Who knows? If I happen to smell her lighting up a cigarette, I will try to ask her.