I lived in a family house in the suburbs. It was one of the most comfortable and calming places ever: the warm coloured walls, the garden full of flowers in the spring, the modern and technically well-equipped kitchen and the Victorian furniture in the living room created a perfect balance of old and new. I always felt comfortable and calm when at home. It was the most calming, relaxing and friendly atmosphere ever.
Although I’m sixteen years old now, I still shiver when I have to go down to the basement. Unlike the upper floors, the basement was neither calming nor friendly. It was dark, and there was never enough light in the lamp to illuminate the whole place, so every time I went down there to do laundry or to find a tool that would help us fix a damaged object, I got scared. When I was little, I was afraid of even going near the basement door. The door was rarely closed: it was a long process to close it, because the lock was damaged easily, and that place was always in need of fresh air to avoid the mold on the walls, or the stale air, or even the smell of must. As I walked past the basement door, I had the strange feeling that someone was watching me from down there. I turned around, so I was “face-to-face” with the door. I swear, sometimes I heard some weird noises coming out of it, when it opened with a creaking sound. Then the scenery would turn into a nightmare: the door became a monster with razor sharp teeth, who wanted to eat me up, and the unexposed stairway downwards was the monster’s throat, leading to complete darkness. To the hopeless, everlasting darkness, from which people can never return. Then I screamed for my mom, and she had to convince me that there was no monster in the basement.
It was a very common action ten years ago, but sometime I still have the same feeling that someone is watching me from the basement. Now, I just ignore it, because it is a stupid childhood fear, and I am almost a grown-up woman! I don’t have time for this!
All the same, I still consider my house the most calming place ever. My family, my friends who come over at weekends are the most precious things. They help me in studies, or in overcoming something traumatic, like my dog’s passing.
But there was one person whom I hated when she came over: the chambermaid, who did the laundry or cooked for us sometimes. She had medium-length, wavy, greasy grey hair, and a look on her wrinkly face as if she were always smelling cat piss. And she hated me, what a surprise. She called me a Satanist for being into metal music, and always told my parents that I would rot in hell for listening to the “Devil’s Music.”
One day, everything changed, mostly my attitude to my home. The chambermaid had agonising pain for years that she couldn’t bear, so she ended her life. She hung herself in the basement after putting in the laundry. She didn’t leave a note to explain to us why she did it. My mom found her body; she is still visiting the psychologist regularly, like most of us. By now, I can’t see the same calming, and friendly place in my house that I used to see.
The image of my home that now lives in me is the dark stairway leading to the basement. I often dream about that dark place, and I feel that my home is now haunted by the chambermaid. Around midnight, I always wake up to a creaking sound, and shortly afterward, I hear footsteps walking around in the house and the whistling of an old song that she used to whistle. An hour later, the basement door creaks again, and I hear footsteps going downwards, and sometimes the groaning of someone in agonising pain. I know she is still here, and as a sixteen-year-old teenager, I am still terrified. It’s not like a fear that you feel when someone scares you in a prank. It is like when a soft sound sends shivers down your spine, the feeling that you are not alone, that someone is watching you from a dark corner and following you. After that, you turn around and see no one, but you still have the phobia that someone‘s always there.