Two emails sat in my inbox awaiting response. One from a man who claimed his house was haunted by it’s previous owner, the other a message from a Wellesley College employee who asked if I’d like a tour of the college’s haunted underground tunnels. The emails were intriguing, but after my past two experiences I was hesitant.
My little library flier had generated more interest than I could have hoped for, but it seemed to be generating the wrong kind of interest. First Pam wanted to pawn off her haunted trinket on me and then Laura and Michael thought I could phone up an exorcist for them. I felt guilty that I had somehow unintentionally mislead all of them.
My husband, Chris, disagreed and felt there was no need for guilt on my part.
“I warned you about kooks,” he said.
“You shouldn’t be meeting people in their homes,” he said.
“Don’t tell me their stories. I won’t be able to sleep. And make sure some demon doesn’t follow you home,” he said.
At the very least, I had to tweak my flier. I made it clear that I was an author looking only to gather ghost stories from Welleslians about hauntings in Wellesley. I even put a disclaimer on the bottom of the page “Please note: I am neither a ghost hunter, nor a paranormal problem-solver – just a curious neighbor with a blog.”
I don’t know. It’s all I could come up with. I printed it out and posted it at the library.
But I couldn’t bring myself to respond to the responses it elicited.
Around this time I had my friend Lyssa over so our kids could play together. She has two boys to my two girls and the four entertained each other well. Over a glass of chardonnay (it was a teeny tiny glass for me and it was four forty-three in the late afternoon, relax, everyone), I told her about my hesitation to continue my ghost research.
“You absolutely can’t stop now. You’ve had such great traction. Listen, I have a neighbor, I just met her at our neighborhood progressive dinner – we will discuss that in a moment – she’s lived in the same house since she was a little girl. She and her husband and their three kids moved in with her mother. I liked her. Cute, cute haircut and she was wearing Lilly (Pulitzer),” Lyssa said.
“Speaking of, I just walked through E.A. Davis. I’m stalking the new Elsa top,” I said.
“Wait for the sale,” Lyssa replied. “Anyway, about this woman; I sat next to her at the dinner and we totally hit it off. The dessert house made blueberry pie, which was strange, but I ran into Leslie there. You know her, right? President of the Bates P.T.O., and she’s woman who organized that massive diaper drive last Fall.”
“Wasn’t she president of the Mother’s Forum, too?” I asked, sipping my wine.
“That’s the one,” Lyssa affirmed. “Anyway, Leslie grew up in Wellesley, and she told me that this woman I met, Jenn, had some horrible thing happen in her family when they were growing up. Like, a man broke in and attacked her and then there were rumors that other strange things happened in that house.”
“What kinds of things?” I asked.
“Spooky things. Apparently they nicknamed Jenn “Carrie” in high school.”
“As in Stephen King’s Carrie?” I asked.
“Yup. Leslie said Jenn is pretty open about the whole thing. Anyway, it made me curious,”
“Nosey,” I corrected.
“Sure. But I thought maybe if I told her about what you’re doing, we could invite her over, or better yet, have her invite us over, and she would tell us the story.” Lyssa said, draining her glass.
“Oh, I don’t know.”
“Sure you do, I’ll arrange the whole thing.” Lyssa replied with confidence, tapping her nails on the side of her glass.
And she did. Somehow, Lyssa managed to get Jenn to invite us over to her house for cocktails and appetizers on a Thursday night in April. Enough time had passed since my last interview debacle with the Arnolds so I had excited butterflies in my stomach at the prospect of hearing a creepy story.
I was buckling my seatbelt in the driveway when I heard a ping from my cell phone. I looked down to see a text message from Lyssa.
F-ing babysitter cancelled just now and Joe won’t be home until nine!!!!
Shit. I thought. Nooooooooo!!!!!! I texted.
I know. It sucks. Go w/o me and you can fill me in.
But I don’t even know her! I texted back.
She’s so nice. Seriously. Go!!
Fine. Damn it all! I texted back.
I confirmed the Boulder Brook address and texted an emoji of a middle finger to Lyssa. She texted back the poop emoji.
Ten minutes later I pulled into Jenn’s driveway. Various bikes and sports equipment littered the front lawn. I took a deep breath and got out of the car, thinking about how Chris had just told me I shouldn’t be going to people’s houses alone.
But this was an acquaintance of Lyssa, I reasoned. Totally fine.
I climbed the steps onto the front porch, which held adirondack chairs and an off-kilter porch swing, and rang the doorbell.
After a moment I heard footsteps and then the beep beep beep of an alarm system being disengaged. Two deadbolts and another lock clicked and the door finally opened.
Lyssa was right, this girl was really cute with a cute haircut. Jenn had naturally curly hair cut into a funky layered bob. It was all different shades of blond and framed her heart shaped face perfectly. She wore black leggings and an oversized sweater. Really cute.
“Hi!” She said in greeting. “I didn’t know you were pregnant!”
I laughed, “Is it that obvious?”
“No, no! I just mean, well I have plenty to drink besides wine,” she said.
“Well, frankly, a glass of wine sounds really good right now. Just a little one, then I’ll have water. Did Lyssa get in touch?” I asked and Jenn confirmed that she had.
I followed her past the dining room into a great room at the back of the house, obviously a renovated addition to the home. A wall of paned windows overlooked a gorgeously landscaped back yard. Daylight was dimming but I could still make out huge hydrangea bushes and other plantings, though I had no idea what they were. The room combined the kitchen and living room. The best way for me to describe the decor is if Pottery Barn and an high-end antique store had a love child and named a Nantucket art gallery it’s Godmother. The home was that child. I never wanted to leave.
“Thank you for having me over,” I said, “I never want to leave! This room!”
“This is my favorite room in the house,” Jenn replied.
“I can see why,” I said. “Lyssa told me that you’ve lived here your whole life.”
“I have, yes,” she replied. “I moved out for college in Boston, where I met my husband, Mike, and then after we had our second child we moved in with mom. It was supposed to be temporary, until we could find our own place in town. But we all liked having mom with us, and the neighborhood is amazing so we built the addition and stayed put. How long have you guys been in town?”
“Just about two years now. Your neighborhood is so fun, Lyssa told me about the progressive dinner, and you guys have a block party in the summer too, right?”
“Yeah, it seems like there is always something going on. I haver to be sure to book sitters out way in advance. We have a fun game night too,” she said.
The mention of game night triggered a memory.
“You don’t know Nick Sayre, do you?” I asked, referring to the realtor with the ouija board obsession.
“I do! His wife, Maeve, is one of my oldest friends,” she said.
“Small world,” I replied. “I actually interviewed Nick last fall.”
“Let me guess, he told you about his Ouija board.”
“He did, wait, were you at that game night? The one where they played with the board?” I asked, a little bit thrilled to be able to fact check Nick’s story.
“I was,” Jenn said sipping her drink, “I was really pissed, actually. Nick knows that I don’t like anything having to do with the paranormal. On the invitation it had said we’d be playing dirty pictionary again. [There it was again, this reference to dirty pictionary. Dare I ever ask?]
“My husband, Maeve and I refused to play. Obviously, it was a horrible idea for a game night.”
“Totally,” I agreed. “Though I can’t imagine a Ouija board ever being a good idea.”
“Agreed,” she agreed, then, “Let’s go sit in the family room.”
Jenn lead the way down two steps into the gorgeous window filled part of the room. We sat on the most elegant sectional sofa I’ve ever seen. It was lime green. Really. And it smelled nice. Not cloying like air freshener, just clean. The throw pillows were like overstuffed clouds in navy and white.
Jenn tucked her legs beneath herself as she nestled into the couch corner and I did the same at the opposite end. Above us, a massive lantern chandelier hung from the peaked ceiling. It softly lit the room around us.
“I’ll say it again,” I said, eyeing a cheese platter set before us on the glass coffee table, “I never want to leave.”
Jenn loaded a pita chip with spinach and artichoke dip. I knew that my entire body would be puffy the next morning from all of the sodium, but I followed suit.
“So, you’re the ghost lady I’ve been hearing so much about,” she said. “You don’t seem too strange. I was kind of expecting someone with butt length stringy hair and a long patchwork skirt.”
Wine almost shot out my nose as I stifled a laugh and took a sip at the same time. I liked this woman.
“Sorry to disappoint,” I said. “I’ve always been drawn to ghost stories. I love being scared.”
“Have you ever been really scared?” She asked, without a hint of a smile.
“No,” I said, realizing my faux pas. From the little bit I’d heard about her past, I knew she was no stranger to true fear.
“Well, that’s why you’re drawn to it. But trust me, once you experience fear, real fear, it loses its allure. The fallout is too devastating, it’s all circular thinking, and what ifs,” she paused, taking a bite of a baby carrot, “and rage,” she concluded.
“I’m sorry, I feel like a jerk. Lyssa told me you had a ghost story, but she also told me that you had a break in-”
“No! Don’t be sorry! I haven’t told anyone my story in a long time. I’ve been looking forward to this, and that little gadget is so smart!” She giggled, motioning to the digital recorder I’d placed on the coffee table. “Trust me, I am an open book.”
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this,” I replied. “I sort of wish I was here to chat about clothes and gossip instead.”
“Next time!” She said with a laugh.
“Ok, so how did your ghost story begin?”
“Well, I actually need to give you a little history before I can tell you about the ghost. Without what happened before, I don’t think there ever would have been a ghost.”
“Great,” I said, stuffing a slice of Brie into my mouth. I was in that pregnancy sweet spot where flavors just burst and happiness hormones shushed the voice whispering “post pregnancy weight.”
“A man broke into our home when I was fourteen,” she began. “It was late afternoon and my brother, Peter, and I were doing homework at the dining room table. I heard my mom open the front door and say hello and the next thing you knew this man was dragging her into the dining room with a knife to her throat.”
“Oh my God,” I breathed, glancing through the kitchen to the front door.
“Peter got up and yelled but I sat there completely frozen. The guy was wearing a utility belt, like he was from the electric company or something, and he had knives and rolls of duct tape on it. He had me tape Peter to his chair and then he taped me to mine before covering our mouths. Then he sat my mom down across the table from us and taped her up too but didn’t cover her mouth. The whole time he kept saying, ‘Obey or I will cut you.’
“He sat at the head of the table and told us that he’d come to save us. He went on and on about an angel named Delilah who had been visiting him at night and that it was his destiny to save families from ‘this present darkness.’”
“What the hell,” I said, horrified.
“He explained why he had to kill us. It was all this crazed, religious nonsense. It was surreal, I mean moments before we had been doing math homework, and now this madman was talking about how an angel told him that if he could deliver us to her she would save us from the darkness. My mom tried to reason with him, and he got up and stood behind her with the knife to her neck screamed, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan!’”
“Holy fuck,” I said.
“He was an absolute lunatic. He would get very quiet, like whispering about the angel and then out of nowhere he would shout the rest of a sentence.”
“You must have been terrified,” I said.
“I was panic stricken about my mother, of course. But my brother was only nine. He was sobbing and even through the duct tape I could tell that he was saying ‘mommy’ over and over.”
“God,” I breathed, horrified and sad and scared and angry all at once.
“It was awful. The man stopped talking after a while and began pacing behind my mother. He was quoting scripture and holding the knife in front of him with both hands like a caroller with a candle. We could all sense that he was getting ready to kill us. Something came over me, it shoved the panic into a closet in my mind and calm just took over.
“The man hadn’t closed the front curtains, I had been hoping the whole time that someone would see what was happening from the road, but only a couple cars had driven by. I could tell he was almost done psyching himself up. So I started screaming as best I could through the tape ‘Me first! Me first!’ over and over. He was at my side in a second. He smelled like moldy laundry and peppermint gum,” Jenn shuddered, “He ripped the tape off my mouth and whispered in my ear for me to repeat myself.
“‘Me first,’ I said again after catching my breath, ‘I want Delilah to bring me to heaven first.’ My mom screamed, ‘No!’ But I figured that I might be able to buy us some time if I acted like I believed him. My dad usually got home from work around five o’clock, I didn’t know what time it was but I knew it had to be getting close.”
“What did he do when you volunteered to go first?” I asked.
“He dropped to his knees and started thanking every saint you’ve ever heard of. Then he said I could ‘choose.’ I didn’t know what he meant. He leaned in next to my ear and I felt his disgustingly hot breath on me and he whispered, ‘choose how.’ And I knew. He wanted me to tell him how to kill me.”
“What in the fuck?” I said. What in the fuck. I thought again.
“As I was trying to decide what I should say, he walked over to my mother and slapped her across the back of her head, hard. She was absolutely hysterical. He taped her mouth shut. My brother was just sobbing and shaking his head back and forth. I tried to calm him down, but the man screamed ‘Choose!’
“So I did. ‘Drowning,’ I told him. I figured I’d have the best shot. I mean, how was he going to manage that? He said some more whacked out prayers and then cut off the rest of my duct tape with the knife and dragged me into the kitchen. I was looking everywhere for some kind of weapon, but he taped my hands behind my back and then put the stopper in the kitchen sink and began filling it with water.
“He shoved me in front of the sink and I struggled as hard as I could, but he was much stronger than me. He shoved my head under the water and I struggled and held my breath for as long as I could but eventually I couldn’t hold it anymore and I breathed in. It was like knives, like a million little needles and knives spreading throughout my chest and then it was, just nothing.”
“My God, Jenn, how did you survive?”
“While the guy was doing this my dad came home fifteen minutes early. He saw my mom and brother through the dining room windows. So he came in quietly and they were able to motion with their heads towards the kitchen. My dad snuck up behind the man and hit him over the head with a glass fruit bowl. Knocked him out cold. Then he got the tape off my mom so she could call 9-1-1 and gave me mouth to mouth resuscitation until the paramedics arrived.
“They all thought I was dead. Even the paramedics. My mom said that they admitted afterward that they only tried to revive me for my parent’s sake. They didn’t think there was any chance I could have survived. Said it was a miracle.”
“Thank God,” I said, needing another glass of Chardonnay and mentally kicking myself for being pregnant.
“Honestly. I just came to and they told me that when I stopped coughing I said, ‘Delilah,’ but I don’t remember that at all.”
“Who was the man?” I asked.
“A guy that had worked in the local hardware store. My dad actually recognized him.”
“What did he look like?” I asked. “I am picturing a massive hillbilly.”
“Oh no, not at all,” she said. “He looked exactly like Michael J. Fox.”
“No,” I said, incredulous.
“Yes, to this day I can’t watch anything that he’s in, the resemblance is almost unnatural.”
I looked at her for a moment, mourning the fact that she had missed watching The Frighteners, then I said, “I don’t know what to say, I am so sorry that happened to you and your family. How do you get past something like that?”
“Everyone handled it differently. My mom had to go away for a little bit. My dad got paranoid. My brother lived in a constant state of terror, he slept on the floor in my room until he went away to college.”
“What about you?” I asked.
“I was able to close it in a closet in my mind. My mom went for help, and my dad was worried about her and hovering around, but so panicked that he wasn’t really present. And someone had to watch over Peter, get him to school in the morning, make him dinner and talk him through his nightmares.”
“Forgive me, but that doesn’t sound like something anyone could keep up for very long. Everyone has to vent, especially terror like that,” I said.
“Yeah, well, I guess you could say that it came out another way,” she replied.
“The ghost,” I guessed.
“The ghost,” she confirmed standing up and walking to the kitchen. “Can I get you anything? I’m going to grab another glass of wine, if you don’t mind. Want a seltzer water?”
“A seltzer water would be great, thanks, but I’m jealous,” I replied.
“I hated giving up drinking while I was pregnant,” she said over her shoulder. “But my husband was crazy about it, he obsessed over everything that I put into my mouth. All three pregnancies. I couldn’t wait to get my body back to myself.”
“How old are your kids?” I asked.
“My oldest, Emma, is in fourth grade. Then Sophia is in second and our baby, Jackson, is in kindergarten.”
“Oh how sweet, they must be in the same elementary school, then” I commented.
“Yup, we are a true Bates family,” she said, referring to the neighborhood elementary school. Adults in this town identified with their neighborhood elementary school like sports fans bragging about a team they weren’t on. She asked where my kids would attend elementary.
“We are over in the Hills area. The girls will go to Schofield,” I replied.
“I know a couple people from Bar Theory whose kids are in Schofield,” she said, returning to the couch and handing me a seltzer water.
“Oh?” I replied, sipping my water.
She didn’t offer any further explanation, so I said, “You were about to tell me about your ghost.”
“My ghost,” she said, with a smile. “Do you know what a poltergeist is?”
Shit. I did know what a poltergeist was. The real kind of poltergeist, not the “they’re heeeeere,” kind of ghost, but the terrifying brand of ghost that attaches to a person, an entity energized by pent up emotion, unwittingly set free to wreak havoc on a family. These ghosties were a thing of levitating beds, broken dishes, screams and voices and bumps in the night. And then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, its reign ended. Leaving a family shaken and paranoid. Broken.
I spent my teenage years reading tales of adolescents terrorized by this phenomena. I knew that the entities were unconsciously created by a person with unreleased negative emotions. A person who contained their feelings to the extreme. Jenn’s attack and the resulting family dynamic was the perfect recipe for one of these so-called “noisy ghosts.”
I took another sip of my water before answering her question, “They’re sort of mischievous ghosts, right? They attach themselves to a person and haunt them.”
“Exactly,” she confirmed. “About six months after the man broke into our house, strange things began to happen.”
“Like what?” I asked, not really wanting to know.
“At first it was all electrical. Fuses would short, the radio turned on by itself to a station that no one in the house listened to, lights flickered all the time. It was annoying at first and it could all be reasoned away. But then the taps started up.”
“I call them taps, but it sounded more like pennies being dropped into a coffee can. It woke us up right around the same time every night.. Three taps, over and over again for about twenty minutes. We searched the house and couldn’t find the cause. [A man’s voice whispers “It was me.”] Eventually we just learned to ignore it.” Jenn shrugged.
“And then?” I prompted.
“Then one night the taps woke me up and I was trying to ignore them by reading. I must have dozed off, because I opened my eyes and the book that I had been reading was hovering over me. I reached for it, like as a reflex, I mean wasn’t completely awake yet and the second I lifted my arm up the book dropped onto my stomach.”
“Uh uh,” I said, needing to use the bathroom, but unwilling to leave the room by myself.
“I didn’t tell anyone about that. I had Peter sleeping on the floor in my room and he was freaked out enough as it was. But then things began to break. Like, at breakfast, Peter and I would be at the table eating cereal and talking, and the glass pitcher of milk just cracked and fell apart. We were sitting right there. My dad, got mad and thought that we had done something to it, but we hadn’t [Man’s voice, “Haaaaa”].
“Other things too, I was doing homework in my room one night at my desk, which sat right beneath my window. I was looking down at my textbook when I heard creaking, I looked up to see the window pane all spidered and cracked. Eventually every mirror in the house had cracks in it. My father was so upset, he thought we were acting out, especially me. He was desperate for everything to be calm and normal for my mom. She had spent time in the hospital after the attacks to ‘rest her mind,’ and he didn’t want anything to upset her.
“But then the voice came and he started to believe me and my brother.”
“What did the voice say?” I asked, holding my breath.
“It said different things to all of us. I mean, I don’t know if it ever spoke to my mom, but it would whisper to Peter when he was alone. He couldn’t understand what it said, but he made sure he wasn’t alone if he could help it. It would yell at my dad, like if he was shaving or getting clothes out of the closet, it would yell right in his ear ‘Hey!’ [Man’s voice, “Hey!”] Once it screamed, “Big man!” at him.”
“But what did it say to you?” I asked, goosebumps running up and down my body.
“A lot of the time it was just nonsense. Like, dates and names. Numbers. Then other times it would ask me questions, but I just ignored it.”
“What kinds of questions?” I asked.
“Um, I don’t know, things like ‘What do you believe now, Jennifer?’ and ‘How does it feel to drown, Jennifer?’”
“Jesus,” I cursed, “How did you keep from losing your mind?”
“Well, I think it was because I couldn’t lose my mind. I was the only one in the house keeping things from falling apart,” she said, then took a big sip of wine.
“It was absolute insanity, though. Everyday tasks became impossible. I would get something out of the refrigerator to eat, turn my back for a moment to grab a plate and the food would be gone. I’d find it back in the refrigerator. Glasses cracked just as you were pouring juice into them. And the tapping lasted for longer and longer each night. It got to the point where I was even hearing it in my dreams.
“I think the worst thing that it did was in school, though,” she says, her face filled with sadness.
“It followed you to school?”
Jenn nodded her head, “I was sitting at my desk in math class and all of a sudden this girl behind me started screaming. I turn around and she is pointing to my hair, yelling, ‘Something lifted her hair up! What is wrong with her?’”
“What?” I said, confused. “What was she talking about?”
“She said she saw my hair just lift up off my shoulders and hover in the air. I hadn’t felt anything, but from her reaction and knowing everything that was happening at home, I believed her. And so did everyone else.” Jenn sighed. [Man’s voice in a growl, “Belief]
“That is awful,” I said, imagining the scene it must have caused in her classroom.
“Yeah, that little trick earned me the nickname, ‘Carrie’ for the rest of high school. Well, actually, even today when I run into old classmates in town I see them catch themselves about to say, ‘Hi, Carrie,’” she admitted, giving a little laugh.
“Awful,” I repeated.
“It was, I mean there were already enough stories going around about me and my family after the break in. Now I was cast as a complete freak show. Luckily, there were two girls that I had grown up with, Maeve is one of them, who stood by me. I wouldn’t have made it without them.”
“How long did all of this go on for?” I asked, referring to the haunting.
“Only about, I don’t know, a little over a month,” she said, draining her glass.
“I woke up one night and there was something above me on the ceiling. It was huge and black and it’s body, if you can call it that, sort of moved constantly, like it was thick liquid. The voice started up, saying, ‘I’m here, you’re here, we’re both here, Jennifer. We are here together, Jennifer.”
“Hell no,” I said.
“I screamed at it, told it to go away, that’d I’d had enough and it was ruining my life. I squeezed my eyes shut and screamed ‘If you don’t stop I’ll kill myself.’”
I gasped at the horror of it.
Jenn said, “That’s the last thing it wanted, I knew that it needed me in order to survive. My dad ran into the room, I’d woken him up with my screaming, and when I opened my eyes it was gone.”
“Was Peter in your room? Did he see it?”
“The poor thing hid beneath his blankets, but yeah, he saw it. The next morning, everything stopped. We were on pins and needles for a long time just waiting for it to come back, but it didn’t.”
“Holy hell,” I said, shaking my head. “And that was it?”
“Yeah, that was it, but you know, every once in awhile I-” [Man’s voice, “Shhhh, here.”] she was cut off by the sound of locks clicking, the front door opening and the shrill beeping of the alarm.
We both froze.
“Jennifer!” A woman’s voice called out, then we heard more beeping as the alarm disengaged.
Jenn and I looked at eachother and laughed in relief, “In here, mom!” She called to the woman.
A small woman walked into the kitchen and placed a large bag on the counter (I was pretty sure that it was Chanel). I stood up to introduce myself and, just like her daughter, she greeted me with, “You’re pregnant!”
We all took a minute to laugh at that and I agreed that I was indeed pregnant.
Jenn introduced us, “Liz, this is my mom, Nancy. Mom, this is Liz,” Jenn said.
“When are you due?” Nancy asked then turned her back to us and began rifling through a kitchen drawer.
“In August,” I replied.
“Ah, here’s one,” she said, grabbing something out of the drawer. “Here you go, keep this in your pocket, or, better yet, put it on a chain around your neck.”
She pressed something small into my palm. I looked down and saw a St. Benedict medal. “Are you Catholic?” She asked.
“Mom!” Jenn hissed.
I smiled and said, “I was raised Catholic but now I think I’m just a Christian.”
“Oh, you’ll come back to us. Life will bring you back,” she said with a knowing smile.
“Mom!” Jenn said again.
I said, “This is so sweet, thank you. Are you sure you want to give this to me?”
“Of course, I have more,” Nancy replied, plopping down into an armchair.
“She buys them in bulk and has our priest bless them,” Jenn commented with a little eye roll.
“It’s our best protection,” her mom said pointedly, then, “Now, what were you girls gossiping about?”
“Liz is collecting ghost stories,” Jenn said a little gleam in her eye.
“Ghost stories?” Nancy demanded.
“She was interested in our experience. She’s a writer,” Jenn replied, munching on a cracker.
Nancy said, “You really shouldn’t go looking for the darkness, dear. It’s best to just leave those things be, nothing good ever comes from talking about them.”
“Not talking about it is what lead to the problem,” Jenn said with forced cheer.
Nancy opened her mouth to reply when the light flickered above us. That’s not quite right, it didn’t flicker, the light actually grew brighter for a moment and then dimmed down before returning to normal.
All three of us stared at the oversized lantern for a moment.
I wanted to get the hell out of there. [At this point on my digital recorder, there is electrical interference. A fuzzy white noise comes through as we were all silent].
Nancy was the first to speak, “It’s getting awfully late for a school night, where are the kids?”
Jenn took a moment to answer her mother, “Mike brought them to The Local for dinner, I’m sure they stopped for ice cream afterwards.”
I grab my recorder off the table and said, “You know, speaking of kids, my oldest has taken to waking up at four in the morning, so I should probably call it a night.”
We all stood up and headed to the front door, I thanked Jenn for the food and drinks and she suggested that we grab dinner with Lyssa soon. Nancy trailed behind us, her arms crossed over her chest.
Jenn disengaged the alarm and unlocked the deadbolts and I quickly crossed the threshold.
Once on the porch, I turned back to thank Nancy for the St. Benedict medal. I realized that I had been clutching it in my hand.
“Wear it around your neck, dear,” she replied seriously.
I told her I had a chain at home that would be prefect for it.
Then I looked over to Jenn to say goodbye. The look on her face stopped me, just for a moment she looked almost disgusted. Angry. No, rageful. Then it was gone and she was smiling at me.
I walked to my car to the sound of locks clicking away behind me and the beep beep beep of the alarm promising safety.
I started my car, hoping I could make it home without wetting my pants, and wondering whether Jenn’s security system was meant to keep others out, or to hold something in.
** Text found in [brackets] was not audible by the author during the interview. It was heard upon audio transcription.