I took one last look at her pitch-black eyes: the hate that radiated from within her will forever haunt me. With my heart in my stomach, and my color completely washed away, I ran for my life. As soon as I hit the hard desert ground, I refused to look back. The frigid winter winds burned my throat with each inhale. I realized then after having our face-to-face experience that I should’ve never underestimated the truth to my Tata’s story about the Red House.
On my grandparents’ property, behind their home, is an old abandoned red house. There once was a woman who had three children. She tried her best to be a good mother, but she was filled with darkness. She believed her children had made her this way, so she drowned them all in the bathtub in hopes of finally removing the darkness that latched on to her. Days passed and the darkness only grew stronger, and she realized that her children were innocent all along. With so much guilt on her shoulders and nothing but loneliness in her future, she killed herself. All of this took place inside of the Red House.
Before ending his story my Tata would remind us to never stay in the Red House for too long, unless we wished to see the lady who lived there. She hated having guests in her home, especially children. And if you lingered for too long, she’d appear to scare you away. My Tata was the kind of person who loved a good laugh, so whenever he told this story, I always assumed it was exactly that—just a story. This story couldn’t possibly be real, nor spirits. There was nothing to fear.
I would soon learn during my next visit to my grandparents’ house that this story was far from fabricated.
It was Thanksgiving weekend in 2005, I was 13 years old. I was visiting my grandparents’ home for the holiday. With every trip to see our grandparents, my cousins and I had a tradition of visiting the infamous Red House. It had been some years since our last visit, and time hadn’t been kind to this house. The sun had withered away almost all the red paint, revealing old rotted planks of wood barely secured by large rusted nails. The two small windows in the front of the house appearing almost as eyes, revealing darkness from inside. As we opened the front door, the creaking of the wood could be heard from miles away. We had to enter in a maze-like manner, ducking and dodging through all the cobwebs that had formed throughout the years. The house was no larger than a small shack. The only furniture inside was a mattress shoved in the far corner, so worn and weathered all the springs had surfaced, and a bathtub in the kitchen, so grimy and soiled no sane human would ever consider bathing in. With so few windows the lighting was poor, making it difficult to focus on more than one object at once.
As we slowly inched our way through the house, I couldn’t help but feel an ominous presence lingering, as if someone was watching our every move. As we journeyed through the rooms, I felt as if someone was behind me. Any creak or crack in the wooden floors sent chills running down my spine. After what felt like a lifetime, my cousins grew bored and decided to leave. As everyone took off full sprint on to the next activity, I took one last look around the house for old times’ sake. That’s when I saw her, the lady from my Tata’s story.
She was standing in the kitchen staring directly at me with such intensity I felt as if she was staring into my soul. I was unable to move, almost in a paralyzed state. I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing was real. Her dress as black as night. It was camouflaged in the dark surroundings. Her eyes were pitch-black and empty, and her face so pale and ghostly it made all my hair stand on end. We stood there for what seemed like eternity, staring at each other from across the room. She reached her right hand out, as if gesturing to come closer. Suddenly my instincts kicked in. They told me to run, and run fast! I sprinted and cleared bushes as if my life depended on it. I ran and ran, never looking back, until I was in the comfort of my grandparents’ home.
To this day, the Red House still stands. I’ve never mustered up the courage to venture inside again. However, I don’t regret my experience. It proved to me my Tata’s story was real: spirits do exist. Since then I’ve never underestimated another story from my Tata, for isn’t truth often buried within a myth?