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I sat on the back step last night, looking out toward the moor where the silhouette of my daughter Emilia paced along the edge of the property. When the crickets quieted down, I could hear her voice calling out softly, “Mama? Mama?”

Emilia’s mother, Madolyn, had passed away from complications of pneumonia the year before. Her parents had wanted her body flown out to Montana, to be laid to rest in a family plot, but I couldn’t bare the thought of her being taken away from Emilia and me. I had her interred in the nearby Maple Grove Cemetery. At night, if I looked out my bedroom window, I could see the stone wall in the distance that marked the edge of the lot, and wish my beloved good night. Read More »

I don’t celebrate Halloween. When the trick-or-treaters come out and start prowling my street, I make sure to keep my front porch light off, and pull the shades down. If someone rings my doorbell despite all my precautions, I hide in the bedroom and pray they don’t ring it again. There’s always a fear that maybe it’s not a child in a ninja turtle mask or wearing a sheet over their head.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s Granny Clark. Read More »

The other night, I was reading my oldest daughter a story at bedtime from one of her favorite books of ghost stories, and afterward she asked me, “That story wasn’t true, was it, Daddy?”

“No, of course not.” I told her.

“Because things like ghosts and monsters don’t exist, do they?” she hugged me goodnight.

“No, they’re not real.” I lied and petted her head.

After making sure both girls were tucked in good and tight, I left their room while my wife kissed them each, and stood for a while looking out the living room window to the darkened street below. I could feel my body tensing up instinctively, like it knew something was coming, but nothing ever did. Still, I looked out the window for far too long, remembering the terrible October of my 15th year.

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“It’s just an ant.” I remarked calmly as I felt it crunch beneath my shoe.

“Buggy! Buggy!”

I picked my foot up and watched as maimed and dying ant twitched and tried to run away. My son screamed at the sight of it and fled to his bedroom. I couldn’t understand why he was so afraid of insects. Especially ants. He was eight years old for Christ’s sake.

He watched from the doorway to his bedroom, hugging a blanket, as I plucked the dead ant off the floor and took it over to the trash can.

“You do realize that when you go outside, there are literally millions of insects out there with you, right? When you’re playing in the front yard, there’s probably hundreds of ants around you, you just don’t notice.”

“I’m never going outside again!” he declared, slamming the door.

“You’re being ridiculous.” I said through the door.

“I hate buggies!”

“You love caterpillars.”

“They don’t count.”

“Look, just use a shoe or a book or something–”

“I’m not going near them!”

My wife Lisa came up behind me. “What’s going on?”

“Brandon saw an ant.”

“Oh. Brandon, honey, it’s lunch time.”

“I’m not coming out! There are buggies out there!”

“I killed the ant, Brandon.” I said.

“Are there more?” He opened the door and peeked out.

“Not any that I can see.” Lisa said, pushing his door open the rest of the way and holding his hand. “Now, come on and have lunch.”

I didn’t say anything as she lead him away, but I watched him looking all around desperately, sure that he was going to see another ant coming at him. Every spring, our house develops a bit of an ant problem. I don’t know where they get in, but we kill them left and right until Lisa gets fed up and calls an exterminator. They pop up for a couple more days afterward, then eventually disappear for the rest of the year.

It was just the start of ant season. Read More »

It never stops.

I don’t know the rules. There don’t seem to be any. I thought, “Okay, this thing is bound to a painting,” but then the digital photo I took of the painting began to change too. Then my daughter’s toy appeared in the image, and in a panic I barricaded her bedroom closet. I wish I could tell you how it works. All I can tell you is that if you are the one who ends up with it, it’s too late. I’m sorry. Read More »