Nellie was the last sister living in the old farm house on Fish Trap Road. Her brother, Lewis Henderson had bought the house for his spinster sisters many years before.
She had been afflicted with polio when she was a small child and had been crippled ever since. For most of her life she had been able to get around with canes or a walker, but over the past few years she found herself needing more and more help in daily living.
Her niece, Clara, had been taking care of her for the last couple of years (until the time of her death), first with having Nellie live with her in Travelers Rest and then living with Nellie here in the old house. Clara had not left her alone, of course. Her sons, Harold and Ben, along with their fiancées, Sonya and Wendy respectively, still lived in the house and watched after her and saw to all her needs. They were wonderful young people .. but.
It was difficult getting older and more dependent. Clara had been sweet and was, truth be told, Nellie’s favorite niece, but depending on someone tended to change things. When Clara was young she would come and visit and would sit next to her, hanging on every word of the stories that Nellie would tell of past times and the family. It was nothing for the two of them to sit for hours in this way, sometimes way into the night. Now, well, the boys were great and their fiancées were treasures, but it just wasn’t the same. Oh well.
It was nice being home and hearing others in the house besides the voices of lost loved ones echoing through the emptiness. This still happened at times, in the darker moments of the night or when the kids went out to run errands.
She would hear things. Noises, voices, bumps in the night. She tried not to tell the others since, when she had, they had given her the “Are you okay?” look. She even had ‘visits’ from some, such as her sister Beatrice who would come to her in her dreams at times. That was nice. Nicer by far than when Doris stopped by. She was as bitter now as she was when she was still living. Maybe worse. Always griping about ‘outsiders’ living in their home. Didn’t seem to matter that the two boys were her great-nephews or that the reason they were there was to help Nellie. No, Doris was always about being in control and making all the decisions after Lewis died.
Of course she knew that she was not the only one to experience these ‘visits’. She had overheard Ben telling about how all the cabinet doors and drawers in the bedroom he shared with Wendy were opened each morning when he woke. This had been Lewis’ old room and Nellie had no doubt that it was her brother’s sense of humor to shake up his great nephew a little.
Another thing that happened, though, concerned Nellie more than Lewis’s sense of humor.
Wendy had gone to explore the upstairs that had been unoccupied since Doris had passed.
After rummaging through the wardrobes, dressers and trunks that still inhabited the two rooms, Wendy had begun to feel uneasy, almost as if someone were standing just out of sight, watching and not being very happy with what she was seeing.
After a few minutes of trying to ignore this spine crawling feeling and having found a notebook full of poetry, Wendy decided to postpone any further explorations till she had someone to keep her company.
As she moved to the top of the stairs, her mind was on the dresses, shoes and other things she had found in the bedroom. She certainly was not expecting what happened next. With one hand on the rail next to the stairs, the other gripping the notebook and her right foot in the process of finding the first step, she felt two hands in the middle of her back. Two small, feminine hands placed quite deliberately and with force. Then a shove that all but sent Wendy head over heels, tumbling toward certain injury, if not death, down the stairs. Only the reflex of tightening her grip on the handrail saved her from this.
As it was, Wendy suffered a wrenched shoulder as well as two very sore spots on her back that coincided exactly with the placement of the hands upon her.
That evening Wendy told Ben about her experience and he explained that the room she had been in had belonged to Aunt Doris. Wendy stated that, “If she didn’t want me in the room, all she had to do was say so. Then I would have probably broken my own neck trying to get out from there. She wouldn’t have had to push me down the stairs!”
Nellie contemplated what she heard. Next time Doris visited, she would need to ask her about it. It was one thing to scare someone now and then, quite another to try to hurt them. Specially if they were family. Yes, she would definitely have to ask her about it.