I lived in an old house about 15 years ago that I honestly believe was haunted. The house was located on the outskirts of Gainesville Georgia about 60 miles north of Atlanta. The house had been constructed sometime in the early 1900’s; it was huge and private with a large backyard and plenty of good neighbors you could call on when you needed them. The house did have a history, though. It wasn’t a very dark or gruesome history, but it was a history just the same. I found out later that a man had actually died there sometime in the 1950's. He wasn’t brutally murdered or consumed in some fire. No, instead the gentleman in question had died of cancer very quietly in his sleep.
Our landlady, Ms. Ruby, had been this gentleman's wife, and when we first moved in she told us, in no uncertain terms, that "upon occasion Mark might sometimes bother us". When this happened, she instructed us to simply tell him to leave us alone. She told us that we should explain to him that we lived in the house, that we were paying her rent, and that we had her permission to be there. Well, I had no idea who "Mark" was, Ms. Ruby didn't really elaborate. At the time, I didn't know the history of the house, especially the fact that her husband had died there some 50 years before. Ms. Ruby was in her 90's and I suspected that she might be on the verge of dementia. So, to be perfectly honest with you, there were a number of things that she told me in those first few weeks that I simply ignored. Well, this was the wrong thing to do. Ms. Ruby might have been old, but she certainly wasn't senile, and "something" began to make its presence known almost immediately. I began to hear footsteps going up and down the stairs late at night. It woke me up on several occasions. I would get up and go into the hall and flip on the lights, and the noises would immediately stop. Most of the time I could go back to bed and not hear anything else for the rest of the night. The next morning I would find myself scratching my head and wondering if I had dreamed the whole thing. Who knows, maybe I was going crazy. So, one night I woke my wife up and I let her listen in on what I was hearing. She agreed with me that it sounded like someone walking up and down the stairs. We went into the hall, cut on the lights and, as usual, the noises immediately stopped but, nevertheless, there was a presence there that night and both of us could feel it. This sort of thing went on for several weeks and, believe it or not, I actually learned to ignore it. It wasn't too hard to do. It always happened late at night, and all I had to do to put it out of my mind was ignore it and drift off to sleep. But then, just when I thought everything was going to be okay, something else happened; something that was a little harder for me to ignore. One night about a month after moving into the house, my wife and I were at home watching movies. It was in the winter and it was very cold outside. All of the windows were shut tight, the doors were closed, and there was no one else in the house except for the two us. My wife and I were sitting in front of the fireplace watching TV when, all of a sudden, the door to the upstairs bedroom slammed shut with enough force to rattle the house to its foundations. Pictures actually fell off the walls, and the entire room seemed to shudder from the floor to the ceiling. I ran upstairs to see what had happened. I found the door shut tight and the room empty. This door was very old and very thick. It was made of solid oak and when the carpet had been laid, the bottom of the door had not been trimmed to accommodate the thick rug and padding. You actually had to pick up on it and walk it across the carpet to close it. So, needless to say, it boggled my mind to imagine what could have slammed it shut with the amount of force we had just experienced. My wife and I roamed through the entire house just to make sure that we were really alone. We checked all of the windows and doors but everything appeared to be perfectly normal. Still, we both agreed that we could feel "something"; a presence or a force and, this time, we had the unmistakable feeling that it was watching us. At this point, we finally got around to asking our landlady what was going on. There had been a number of strange disturbances over the past few weeks. Drawers in the kitchen would mysteriously open on their own, and we kept hearing those faint footsteps moving up and down the hall. The front door seemed to have a mind of its own, and there had been several times that my wife and I had gone into town only to come home and find it standing wide open. Ms. Ruby was very up front with us. She told us, point blank, that her husband had passed away in the house, and that it was her belief that something of his presence had remained behind to watch over her. Apparently, he was very protective, and he had assured her in the weeks before his death that he would always be there to keep an eye on her and the children. Ms. Ruby had actually looked at us in disbelief and reminded us that she had told us all about Mark when we first moved in. This was true, but I made a point of reminding her that she hadn't bothered to explain that Mark was no longer a part of this world. Well, as you can imagine, my wife was more than a little eager to move after a year of such nonsense. We finally ended up buying a house of our own about a year later. It was a little sooner than we had intended but, all in all, I think it was for the best. Ms. Ruby's old place is still standing in New Holland to this day. I have no idea who lives there now; Ruby herself passed away several years ago, and I lost touch with her kids long before that. Still, I sometimes wonder if Mark still resides in the old house at the end of Mill Street. Is he still there keeping watch over his home, or maybe, after of all these years, has he finally passed over and followed Ms. Ruby safely to the other side. For whatever reason, I think about Mark a lot these days. Your own mortality can sometimes do that to you. It can make you remember the dead. Believe it or not, I still wake up sometimes after all of these years and stare into the shadows, searching for signs of movement in the darkness, and sometimes, believe it or not, I even find myself straining my ears as I listen for those ghostly footsteps gliding down the hall.
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