Living in a haunted house means there's never a dull moment.
Okay, in all seriousness, we don't really believe Isabel is real. Mostly. Probably. We know there was a woman named Isabel who lived in this house and was murdered here by her husband in 1911. Isabel suffered domestic violence of the physical and emotional varieties, and had made a friend of an independently wealthy, single woman who encouraged her to leave her husband, unlike the other oh-so-helpful ladies of the era who simply believed taking a smack to the face was part of a wife's duty.
As often happens even today, a woman trying to leave an abuser is most in danger on the day she leaves. He killed her, confessed, tried an insanity plea and it didn't work even back then. He was sentenced to 45 years, but his sentence was commuted after fewer than 10 years. He remarried and lived happily ever after.
No wonder she's pissed.
It was neat for two horror writers to move into a potentially haunted house. When my shoes disappeared shortly after we moved in - from the center of the living room - and reappeared a week later in the center of the living room,
it was kind of funny. Plus we always have someone to blame: The car disintegrates new tires
18 months after purchase, and it's Isabel's fault! Computers died, as did the refrigerator, heating/cooling system, water heater, the air conditioner in my office, sewer system... And I suppose there could be a logical reason why my half of the closet spontaneously collapsed
and Jim's did not.
She likes him. She really doesn't like me.
Sometimes things happen that make us question our unbelief, if that can be a thing. There are the occasional loud thumps in the night, and sometimes a door slams when everyone else is asleep or no one is near it. The first time that happened, it startled me awake. Now I just mutter, "Isabel, I'm sleeping..."
It's a century-old house. You expect noises and funny air drafts. My office door closed itself last night while I was on the couch and Boy was in his room. Ghost, or an open window up in my office creating funny air pockets?
And there was the myriad of things that broke during the wedding, when the house was a circus with family and friends coming and going. Stair rail, closet rod, a dish or two. Isabel doesn't like a ruckus. My friend Sara brought us a lovely charm of friendship woven around the initial I, in the hopes of appeasing her. It disappeared mere hours after Sara gave it to me and has never been seen since.
I've been doing some research lately into Isabel's story, because I'm writing a short story loosely based on her murder. It's not exactly historically accurate, but then, I'm not writing history. I'm writing a version of her life and death that might or might not be what really happened. Only Isabel and her husband know exactly what happened that day. So I've been spending a lot of time thinking about her.
Then we had a bit of a nervous crisis. I was loaned a key. It was an important key. It had to be kept safe, and I put it in a secure front pocket of my purse to make sure it stayed safe.
It came time to use it today, and it wasn't there. I searched my purse. Five. Times. And I searched my computer bag, in which my purse usually resides. We searched every room of the house, the pockets of every pair of pants I've worn for the last ten days, the key dish, the desk, the car. We searched wallets and checkbooks and folders and the box we used to bring in the groceries from Sam's Club. We tore the house apart searching for that key, folks.
And then we switched and each of us searched the places the other one had already searched, for fresh eyes. Every receipt crammed in the car console is now in the receipt bag in the house. My purse and computer bag have never been so clean and well-organized. Every business card, receipt, lipstick and pack of gum has been searched and neatly replaced.
Jim and I were on the phone late Thursday night discussing the issue as I searched fruitlessly yet again.
JIM: We are going to have to search again in the morning when it's light, the house and the car.
ME: I am so not looking forward to the conversation I have to have if it's really lost.
JIM: Is there any place we haven't looked?
ME: Unless my purse has a hole in it and it literally fell out somewhere, no.
JIM: It has to be in the house somewhere.
ME: I even searched the... oh holy hell.
ME: I found it.
JIM: What?? Where??
ME: IN MY PURSE.
JIM: No fucking way.
ME: I am holding it in my hand.
in your purse?
ME: In. the. front. pocket. Right where I said I'd put it.
JIM: That is not possible.
ME: I know.
JIM: You searched that purse and that pocket five or six times. I saw you.
ME: I know.
JIM: I searched that purse twice! I checked that pocket and it was not there!
ME: I swear, I'm starting to believe.
JIM: This is scary! It wasn't there! I searched it!
ME: *at ceiling* Wench! Stop hiding my shit!
JIM: Shh, don't piss her off!
ME: You're right. Sorry, Isabel, I didn't mean to call you names but stop hiding my shit!
I have since replaced the key in an even more secure pocket of my purse, with a zipper across it. As I did so, I took a picture of my hand placing the key in the pocket and sent it to Jim, as witness.
Sometimes I really have to wonder about those air drafts, you know?
Labels: Isabel, The Man