A Ghost Story


I am a very cynical person. While I love hearing about ghost stories, hauntings and all that stuff, I pretty much think it’s all a load of crap. Entertaining, but crap. Or, at least I did, before…

I haven’t told this story yet because it just seems so far-fetched, but I think you know that I don’t really bullshit around by now. So here we are.

Jeff and I bought our first house in a tree-lined neighborhood of Washington, DC. It was a Tudor that we purchased from the children of the original owners. They were a brother and sister in their late 70s who were born and raised in the house and had never left. (That should have been the first clue.) They were more than a little bizarre, but the house was beautiful and they seemed harmless. Under the hideous wallpaper and ratty carpets, it had the character and beauty we were searching for with a price tag we could (kind of) afford.

The sale went through and we moved in to the new place. Other than a completely unsettled dog, things were fine. Until, a few weeks later when the walls began to bleed. Say what? Inexplicably, the walls would constantly drip this clear amber liquid all along the second floor ceiling. We had roofers and plumbers and electricians and every other house specialist I could think of over to the house. Each and every one of them had never seen something like it before and the last guy’s response was, “Ma’am, that’s freaky.” Sure, it was a nuisance, but nothing to be afraid of. There had to be some explanation. Or, not.

The house was equipped with an alarm system. Every few days I would get a call at work that there was motion detected on the second floor and that the police had been dispatched and every few days I would dash home to a completely empty house with no disturbance. Eventually, the alarm company began to ignore the second floor motion detections, but since Penelope rarely ventured up there, it remained a mystery. I started to get a bit unsettled.

And then I went up to the attic. We’d never been up there before we bought the place. It was inspected, but the pull-down was pretty treacherous and we skipped that part, leaving it up to the inspector and agent. One day, I decided to explore and see if there were any goodies up there. Maybe some old plans from when it was built or cool antiques left behind. What I found, instead, was an altar complete with countless crucifixes and other religious relics. I entered complete flip out mode– this house was wrong. Between the altar, the bleeding, the alarm and the fact that Penelope would literally run around in circles all night, something was very, very off. I wanted out. A few days later, we found out we were pregnant and it made sense to consider a move out to the ‘burbs and leave the city behind.

We sold the house in a few days (thank you, real estate boom,) and were out in a blink. As we were leaving, the next-door neighbor came up to me and told me how glad she was that we were moving out. No young couple starting a family should live in that awful house, she said. You know it’s haunted, right? Before this experience I would have rolled my eyes and called her crazy, but I just nodded. I do, I said. And we can’t get out of there fast enough.

The night before closing I was up until three in the morning scrubbing the newly stained walls. I wonder if the current owners have to deal with that, too, and if they feel the spookiness. Maybe they’ve never seen any of it at all and are living a long and happy life there. I certainly hope so. But, better them than me.


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  1. Lesley says

    That’s just so freaky. I believe in all that stuff, but thankfully have not ever experienced anything similar. I don’t know what I would have done. *shivers*

    Thank goodness you were able to get out!

    You told this story in your point of view…I’m curious as to how your husband reacted?

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  2. Tiah says

    Bleeding walls? CREEPY!
    When I was in high school we moved into a new house. A few months after we moved in the previous owner killed himself. One day while we were in school my mom saw the guy in our living room, just standing there. She said she turned to get the phone, turned back around and he was gone. She never told us until we were older and moved out, she said she didn’t want us to freak out. Thank God, because I would have lost my mind. She said it was just the one time, he never came back.

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  3. KB says

    Wow, I’m one of those people that sits in fascination watching all the ghost hunting stories that are on just about every network right now. I love watching them but if it ever happened to me I think I’d pass out on the spot.
    Although, my sister and I both have memories of what as children we thought was a man sitting in the armchair in the living room. It wasn’t until we were both in college and talking about ghost stories one day that we realized we both “saw” the same thing. Not sure if it was childhood imagination but I was so glad when we got rid of that chair.

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  4. Christine says

    *Altar. (Sorry.)

    That is absolutely insane! Though I suspect that if you had actually used the altar, perhaps lit some candles or something, the amber liquid may have stopped. Slackers.

    Assuming it’s all true (let’s), how long were you at the house?

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  5. hokgardner says

    My aunt and uncle live in a haunted house, or at least they did until a priest blessed it.

    Before then, the attic door, no matter how tightly you closed it, would swing open on its own, and a ghost of a little girl would wander around the playroom at night. The son of the original owners stopped by once, and they asked him about the girl. He said it sounded like his sister, who had died as a child.

    But after the blessing, no more ghost sightings, no more open attic door.

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  6. Roxanne says

    I remember there was a house in my friend’s old neighborhood that everyone said was haunted. After hearing all kinds of stories, Friend and I decided to venture over. We rang the doorbell and prepared to run. From behind the door we could suddenly hear ghosts & ghouls & screaming. We ran.

    I wish I could have met the people who bought a house, moved out (I assume?) and left their doorbell rigged to a cassette player to freak out the children of the neighborhood.

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  7. Suzanne says

    The house we live in now was built by the town funeral director, whose funeral home is still open and operating just one street over. Before we bought it, I checked with every single person I could find who had ever been in or lived in the house, and they all assured me there was no haunting.* So far the closest we’ve come is some unexplained marks on the ceiling, but if it is a ghost it’s a terrible artist.

    *I mean besides the people trying to sell it. Because they don’t have to disclose stuff like that. Same as they don’t have to disclose if anyone’s ever killed themselves there. That was the only answer I got wrong on my real estate licensing test because OMG THEY SHOULD.

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