At the time, Daughter-Only was fourteen and we were living in a hundred-year-old house just outside of town. We've since moved on--owing entirely to non-paranormal causes. Given the age of the house and our familial obsession with the show Ghosthunters and the fact that while touring the house, we experienced some unexplained noises, we were operating on the theory that while the house may not be "haunted" we certainly had some "activity" going on. (What follows is a portion of a longer piece originally posted here four years ago.)
Daughter-Only was a little less reserved in her assessment. Along with Oldest Niece, she had found a trunk full of keepsakes in the attic. They belonged to a man named Bill--our best guess is that Bill's father built this house. Bill was apparently quite a player--there were photos of several women in a wallet and dates on letters from at least two of the women overlap.
In any case, Oldest Niece and Daughter-Only became convinced (half-jokingly) that Bill was responsible for all the mischief around the house. This despite the fact that there was no evidence whatsoever that Bill was even dead. In fact, based on dates they'd found, Bill was probably around 71 and statistically just as likely to be among the living as to be taunting my family with silly pranks barely worth mentioning.
Daughter-Only rejected that possibility and began telling everyone she knew about our ghost, Bill. Once, she even called home from a friend's house and left a message on our answering machine for Bill.
When it came to preserving Bill's reputation as a bona fide spirit, Daughter-Only was not above helping Bill out a little. A common tactic was to conceal one accomplice (friend or cousin) in a closet while telling a wide-eyed story to the others about all the knocking and tapping she'd heard from Bill. Cue knocking and tapping and, more often that not, screaming and giggling.
Though no one had seemed traumatized, I warned Daughter-Only that she was going to end up really scaring someone someday. Maybe she would've actually paid attention if she'd realized the traumatized person would end up being her.
Early in the spring Daughter-Only was deathly ill and had stayed home from school. She was there alone with the dogs and ferrets. She called me at work, speaking barely above a whisper, clearly terrified. "Mom, um, I was feeling better? And, uh, I put the dogs outside so I could kick my soccer ball down the upstairs hall? And my ball bounced all the way down the stairs and into the dining room and I was going down to get it when Son-Two's bedroom door started rattling really, really hard--like someone was trying to get out of the room!"
I asked her if she was okay and where she was. She was on the sofa hiding under a blanket. I asked her what she thought it was--did she think it was an actual human being? She did not. She knew it would've been virtually impossible for someone to get to the second-story bedroom without alerting the dogs.
I told her I'd be right there and that she could bring the dogs in for company and protection if it would help.
I even said, "Remember, whatever it is, it can't hurt you."
She said, "I know, but it's still scary."
I hung up and explained to Cranky Boss Lady that I needed to go home--to my haunted home--because Daughter-Only was (apparently justifiably) completely freaked out.
Just then, it hit me that Son-Two had told me that morning that he had slept with his window open the night before. It was incredibly windy that day so obviously--mystery solved.
Needless to say, Daughter-Only was nowhere near as amused by the episode as I was. It probably didn't help things that the main reason she was so terrified was that she had swallowed her own paranormal propaganda whole.