My Grandma’s Stairs
Unlike other stories that involve stairs – creepy, or dark, or creaky, or whatnot – my Grandma’s stairs were perfectly normal. They ran past the door to the backyard and down to the basement in a perfectly un-creepy fashion; they were well-lit and not too steep. The basement itself kind of creeped me out, but mostly because my grandmother was of a generation of people who like to collect and display ceramic dolls that stare at you, and photos from the late nineteenth century of people who look they want to eat you alive.
But the stairs were not a problem – the door opening onto them was always open during the day, and we could go down and out into the backyard, which was surrounded by a seven-foot chain-link fence and a locked gate. The outside door was an old-school door, the kind you can’t get through with an axe, and there was a deadbolt on it. The inner door, too, the one at the top of the stairs, was heavy, and at night Grandma would slide the bolt across it … no cutthroat marauders were going to get in that way!
One night, before dark, my grandmother had been downstairs doing some laundry. She came back upstairs, checking the outer door on her way – safely locked. She turned to close the inner door – looking down the stairs, where she saw no one. She closed the door and slid the bolt across … and something slammed so hard into the door on the other side that it hurt her hand. She was startled to say the least, but she immediately thought it must just be temperature changes, warping the wood. Wood cracks sometimes, after all. But the door was not cracked – on her side at least. She started to slide the bolt back, so that she could check the other side of the door, but before she could touch the door, something slammed into it again, and again, and again. She backed away, watching as the door strained against the hinges and threatened to pull the sliding bolt off the wall. This went on and on – BANG, BANG, BANG – for over two minutes – an eternity for my Grandma, who stood there paralyzed, not knowing if she should stay in the house or run away. Finally the banging stopped, and my grandmother ran to call her friend, who came over right away and investigated the house – no one was in the basement, all the windows were still locked, the outside door was still deadbolted.
“Maybe it was just the wood cracking,” the friend suggested. “Wood cracks sometimes, you know.”
“I do know,” my Grandma informed him tartly. “It doesn’t crack like that!” She was almost disappointed that it couldn’t have been a break-in; what on earth had it been then?! Why did it happen? Why did it stop?
Being the person she was, my Grandma continued to live there, to leave the door open in the day, to go downstairs and do laundry by herself. If she felt nervous about it, she never let on, but she talked often about how scary that day had been, and how she wondered what it was that had done it.
After all, wood really doesn’t crack like that.