It was a long, hot, boring summer. Not at all the way I envisioned my last summer before starting high school. I was supposed to be at the beach working on my tan, not getting up four mornings a week at 5 AM to hustle over to my baby-sitting job. Wasn't I supposed to be having fun with my friends? Going swimming? Talking about boys? Stalking our crushes? Well, not if I wanted money. And this job paid pretty well for a fourteen year old. Never mind the fact that getting up early and missing out on so much fun had turned me into a grumpy, snippy, teenager that I hadn't been before. It would be over soon. Just a few more weeks.
My alarm clock went off at 4:50 AM, as usual. I hit snooze twice, as usual. I walked with my eyes half closed to the bathroom, splashed some water on my face, and as I threw my hair back in a ponytail I heard the timer on the kitchen stove go off. What in the world? Why on earth was mom up at this time? She's cooking something? Now? I rolled my eyes and headed back to my room to get dressed. Just as I was finishing up I heard the timer on the stove go off again. Feeling super agitated (what else was new?) that my mom was up at an ungodly hour baking I ran downstairs to show her my annoyance and make her see how loony she was acting.
I rounded the corner to the kitchen and there was no one there. I walked into the living room and then the dining room. No one.
A chill ran up my spine and I took off running out the back door to my baby sitting job. I cut through the neighbors' yards looking behind me every few steps. I ran faster and faster, so sure that any moment someone was going to grab me from behind.
I got to my job in less than 30 seconds and let myself in. I said hello to the kids' dad all the while trying to appear somewhat casual. As he left for work I went downstairs to their TV room and flipped on the tube for some company. I didn't want to be alone with my thoughts. I was freaked, to say the least. I didn't know what to think. Had someone been in our house? Was someone messing with me? Am I crazy? Did I really hear it? What if someone was still in the house? Mom was sleeping! Dad wasn't home from his third shift yet. Should I call her? I don't want to wake her up and freak her out. What if I'm just being crazy?
I waited until the clock struck 7 and then immediately picked up the phone and called my mom. No answer. I tried every 5 minutes for the next half hour. No answer. The kids were up now and asking me who I was calling every couple of minutes. I told them I just had a question for my mom, but I think I was starting to worry them too. Finally a little after 7:30 mom picked up the phone.
"Hello?" she said.
"Mom? Are you alright? Is anything weird going on?" I asked.
"Ha! I'm fine! Why?" she responded.
"Well, maybe you should just come over here. I have a really weird feeling. Have you looked around the house?" I said trying to stay calm.
"Why? I mean, I've been up and around, but what am I looking for?" she chuckled, slightly amused.
"Well, I heard the kitchen stove go off this morning. Twice. I thought for some crazy reason you were downstairs baking but when I got down there you weren't there." I finally told her.
"Oh! That wasn't you? I heard it too. I was wondering what you were doing." she said, finally understanding.
"No. It wasn't me. And, I don't know. I just have a bad feeling. I think you should come over just in case someone is in the house or something." I pleaded.
"Don't be silly! There is no one here. And dad will be home in a few minutes. Don't worry about it." she said, laughing now.
"Well, just call me when dad gets home and make him check around the house or something." I cautioned.
"Honey. It's fine. Trust me." she comforted.
I hung up the phone though I was still uneasy. I thought about it for the better part of the day, and it just didn't make any sense.
When 3 o'clock finally rolled around the kids' mom came home and I was free to go. I walked back home, opened the gate in the backyard and walked up to the back of the house. I could hear my mom singing in the kitchen and I was immediately put at ease.
I opened the back door and walked up the hallway steps. The minute I stepped foot into the kitchen where my mom was the timer on the stove started beeping again. Only this time not only was the timer beeping but the numbers on the clock were flashing and rolling. The numbers were jumping and flickering so fast they never really settled on one number. The just kept up their jumbled flipping craziness.
My mom and I stood stunned and grabbed each other's arm. We were frozen in our spots, clinging to each other with our mouths wide open.
Finally it stopped. I looked at mom and she looked at me. There were no words. Her eyes were big as saucers and mine were watering.
"Well, uh, um, there's. Uh. There's gotta be a short or something. I mean. The clock must just be broken or something. Because, uh. That doesn't just happen. Uh. Maybe it has a battery? Maybe it needs a new battery?" she said, again trying to comfort me.
Mom immediately grabbed the phone book, called the Sears where they had bought the stove less than a year ago, and asked to speak to a repairman. She asked if there was a separate battery compartment for the clock. Nope. Could there be a short? Not if the burners and oven was still working. Mom tried the burners and the oven. They both worked. The repairman asked why mom was asking and when she told him what had happened he said, "Eh! Spooky." Yeah. That helped.
Okay. So no reasonable explanation for it. What was it?
We couldn't figure it out. And we didn't understand why it went off right after I woke up in the morning, hadn't gone off all day, and then went off again the minute I stepped into the kitchen. What was going on?
Mom told me of something she had read once. She didn't want to freak me out, but she'd heard that ghosts are sometimes attracted to negative energy much like a teenage (bitchy) girl gives off. We talked about how foul I had been the past few weeks. How I had been talking back and grouchy, and an all around pain in the ass. Maybe that had something to do with it?
Then seeing how I was getting a bit freaked by that idea she said, "Or maybe it was just grandma telling you to behave."
"Well knock it OFF grandma!" I said, trying to see the humor.
I'm not sure I believed either theory, but I certainly didn't want to test it either. And yes I was still a grouchy, bitchy teenager from time to time, but nothing like I had been that summer. Somewhere in the back of my mind I really
didn't want to find out if my mom had been right.
To this day the clock on my mom's stove does not work. And every once in a while when I am standing alone in that kitchen, and I glance over at the jumbled numbers on the clock, a chill runs up my back.(Freaky, right? Well, wait until you hear the third ghost story on Thursday. It is so scary!)(Oh, and one more thing. Don't be too hard on my mom. She and I were always watching ghost shows and talking about stuff like that together. She didn't really want to freak me out just to make me behave. And I didn't take it that way. We were both just looking for an explanation and she shared with me something she'd read about.)