“There’s a ghost in the attic. I know, that sounds strange. But, really, there is!”
That’s what Debby told mom every night as we were tucked into bed. She was ten at the time, I was fourteen. I always told her that ghosts didn’t exist, but she never stopped believing. Eventually, after a year living in that house and her claiming there was a ghost there, ma and pa got annoyed by it. She was too young to have such beliefs, but she refused to give on “Charlie” the ghost.
When she was almost twelve, I couldn’t stand sharing a room with her. Her babbling all night in her sleep, and talking to Charlie all morning while awake. I took her to the library, hoping to find proof that nobody died there.
The newspaper clippings had a different idea, though. Charlie, or Charles Hanson, disappeared from that house long before my sister and I had been born. He was twelve. They solved his case only a couple years before we had moved in. I wish I’d never read how he’d died. About how he’d been shoved into a wooden box and sealed behind a brick wall in the attic. He’d been nailed there by the shirt and the lid of the box was chained, locked, and nailed closed.
My sister took that as proof of her ghost’s existence, but I just wanted to ask ma and pa why we would move into a house like this, and whether or not they knew what happened to that kid. You know what they told me? “The price was dropped because that kid died here.”
I was appalled.
Then, in the middle of the night, my sister disappeared from her bed. She was gone. Missing. None of us had woken up until late into the morning. The authorities never found her, and my parents refused to leave the house. They loved it there and didn’t want to move her stuff around.
I moved out when I was seventeen, refusing to stay in the house that my sister... never mind. To this day, I wear a golden charm bracelet that my sister had worn the other half of. I gave it to her on her twelfth birthday.
It wasn’t until I was almost twenty that I returned. My parents wanted to move out now, and I was glad to help them. I couldn’t stand what happened to my sister there, but I was gonna get the house. I was already making plans on selling it.
It was late that night when my parents had left the house for different reasons. Pa went to a bar to hang out with his buddies, acting like the child he mentally was. Ma went to play bingo and, most likely, gossip with her friends. It was just me at home. I tried to relax and watch tv, but the house made me to uneasy. It would make you kinda paranoid too, so shut your trap.
I was so close to falling asleep when the light “ping!” of a hammer against nails caused my eyes to fly open. I recognized the noise. I’d heard it in my dreams the night my sister disappeared, and it’s reoccurred in my nightmares ever since.
I flung off the couch and down the hall to the attic entrance. I pulled the rope and climbed the ladder that had slid down. “Who’s there?!” I hollered over and over, but nobody replied. It was the first time I’d ever been in the attic, and it will be the last. Nothing seemed out of ordinary except for the left wall, which was brick instead of wood like the others. The bricks seemed old, except for a small area that seemed to have been replaced by newer bricks.
I could have just left it there. The bricks could have been replaced by ma and pa, but then I remembered that newspaper clipping from all those years ago.
I quickly searched the boxes, looking for something to smash the wall in. I settled for a hammer. I bashed it against the wall, over and over again until a pungent smell wafted out. I gagged and staggered away, my eyes tearing and my nose burning, but I soon returned to the wall. I dug at the bricks with my hands until a simple wooden chest was visible. It was chained and locked and the floor underneath it was bloodstained in a pool. A key sat beside it.
I quickly unlocked the chains, tears continuing to fall as I opened the lid. But, this time it wasn’t because of the smell of rot, it was because of the small body inside. The bloodstained pajamas. The hair that had fallen out in chunks.
And the golden charm clenched tight in my baby sister’s hand.