In the small town I grew up in, there was a nice little neighborhood, and in that nice little neighborhood,was a vacant home lot that was partitioned off from the rest of the area by large metal walls, and naturally, this peaked the curiosity of the people in the area.
Rumor had it that a couple had lived there and the house was vacant too long after the family moved away so the city fenced it up. But that didn’t explain the why the land was never sold, or why the fence was so high. Being a teen in a too-few-things-to-do city inspired some interesting forays for myself and my friends. And one chilly fall night, we dedicated ourselves to finding out the mystery. I almost wish we hadn’t, since it’s so horrible, but these urban myths and legends are what ghost stories are made of…
Once upon a time, in the history of a very small city in the middle of the United States, there lived a young little family, a mother who made cookies, a father who worked for the postal service, and a three young kids, each with their father’s chocolate eyes and their mother’s soft, blonde curls.
These were back in the horse and buggy days, and their home was just one of a few houses built in the area. One night the young family traveled to a community harvest party they’d been looking forward to for weeks. There was music, dancing, food and drink and they had a wonderful time. When they finally made it home, they were as exhausted and happy as any young family could be. The couple tucked the children in their beds to sleep, and went outside for a walk to enjoy some quiet moments together under the starry sky. Still slightly drunk, the husband grabbed his young bride by the hand and swung her into a midnight dance under the stars… they were so happy and having so much fun they didn’t notice the smoke coming from the windows.
Unfortunately, the evening would end in tragedy. The small fire they’d left burning escaped its hearth and the house caught fire. The couple tried desperately to put it out, but with no fire department, no running water and a home made of wood, the home and their sleeping children perished. Heartbroken and distraught, the couple refused to rebuild or to sell the property. In fact, they left and were never heard from again.
As time passed, the young city made a vow to respect the wished of the couple, and left the property untouched, save for a 10 ft. tall metal fence barricade. The couple had no descendants, so the city kept its promise, and the barricade stayed. At times, the neighbors in the houses that sprang up around the lot said they heard children playing, or laughing, and sometimes crying. There was a tree in the center of the lot that grew and grew, and someone made a swing for the ghost children. At night you could hear it moving back and forth in the wind, almost as if a child were playing on it.
By the time my friends and I made our way to the lot, it had been over a century since the house had burned. We’d heard the stories and had to see for ourselves. Late at night, we took turns standing on each others shoulders…the tree, yes, it was there and it was massive, but the swing was broken, just one chain still attached it to the branch. Interestingly, there were antique-looking toys strewn about the lot, a doll, a tricycle and what looked like a broken stroller. Some were new, as if locals were trying to appease the children. After those of us who dared to look had seen enough, we turned to leave, but not before a chided us for disturbing their spirits.
We swore we could hear the echoes of children laughing as we walked away….