I walk into my grandmother’s house. Everything is as it was. The living room to the right from the entryway houses my grandfather’s bed, but I can still see the sofa with the plastic coverings on the seats against the back wall, adjacent to the old gargantuan TV. Encased in wood, it is in itself a piece of furniture. Straight ahead, next to the stairway is the chair and small table, upon which resides the only phone in the house…a rotary dial. I start to make my way towards the stairs, and I can see into the kitchen on my left. There is my grandmother’s old table, and the oval cable rug beneath it. The white stove to the side has the single, coveted, cast iron pan on top.
In my hands I am holding a poinsettia plant. It is in full bloom; the bright crimson leaves draping in every direction. Gold foil is wrapped around the base of the pot. I move very slowly up the stairs, with purpose. My mother is behind me, silently urging me forward. At the top I round the corner. I can see the full bath down a short hallway to the right. I never go in there. Continuing straight I make my way to the next set of stairs, but pause to peek at the two bedrooms on each side. The doors are always slightly ajar, but there’s no reason to enter. Gripping my poinsettia tighter, I pause at the base of the stairs to note the old empty jars on the second and third steps. Grandma will use them to store her peppers. I glance behind me. Mom is still there; still silent. I take a deep breath and continue my climb.
My grandmother’s attic is by far the strangest I have ever seen. At the top step there is a small landing, with a room directly behind. To the right, there is another step, and two more rooms branch off in awkward, diagonal directions. The rooms are tiny with slanted roofs, but I am short enough and never have to lean. The doors to the two rooms are expected to be closed, but the room at the forefront is always open.
It’s not long before I see it. It has always resided on the floor, leaning upright against one of the many antique trunks, facing the doorway. A black pentagon with a white ghostly face painted on its surface. Its tripod legs are folded behind it; its wooden frame is sturdy. The black felt on the surface is in perfect condition. The word Voodoo is etched below the face. I never tried to play with the antique Ouija board. The stories I had been told as a child of its accurate predictions had sent shivers down my spine. I was fascinated by it, but from a respectful distance.
I keep my eyes on the prize as I continue up the stairs. I do not see him coming until it is too late.
I first glimpse his dark pants and his white muscle shirt; his hair is also white. He is old, but looks strong. His face is hard, angry. His eyes are a clear, deep, crystal blue. He jumps out at me from the landing on the right, blocking my view to the room ahead. His arms are reaching for me, grabbing my shoulders. He is speaking. No, screaming. The words are jumbled. I do not understand him because his ranting is overshadowed by the screeching inside my own head. I do not know this man. I have never seen this face. But, those eyes…
I feel the loss of my own footing on the stairs. His large, wrinkled hands are still on me, pushing me down. My poinsettia has disappeared. I reach out and grab the railing trying to avoid the inevitable fall. Looking behind in desperation, I find my voice and scream to my mother for aid. She is gone. Realizing I am alone with my assailant, I am overcome by the sensation of falling and fade to black.
And begin again, in my grandmother’s foyer with my poinsettia back in hand. My mother behind me, we climb, over, and over. The outcome remains the same.
The house has long been sold. The trunks were emptied. My grandparents have passed on. Many of their possessions were dispersed among the family and good will, others simply thrown away. The cast iron pot, lost. The Ouija board, burned. But the dream has repeated over and over through the years, its message still unclear; a residual haunt breaking free from my subconscious mind with no reason I can find, except to torment me for a spell. Everything exactly as it was.