My mother called me a month after we had both moved to live on our own. I had rented a small apartment for myself, which was my first time living alone. And mom had bought herself an old Victorian home nearby in San Francisco.
“How are you enjoying life as a single bachelor?” she asked playfully over the phone.
“It’s great. I’ve got hot babes all over the place.”
“Of course you do, that’s why you’re on the phone talking to your mother on a Friday night.”
“Is that why you called?” I laughed. “You wanted to rub that in?”
“A little bit. But honestly, I miss hearing your voice after I come home from work. You’re all grown up now.”
“Basically what you’re saying is, you miss me too,” she replied lovingly.
“So how’s your new apartment treating you?” she asked. “Everything good I hope.”
“I’ve got no complaints here. Great view, parking is easy, and there are a lot of really cool people who live in this building. I’ve made some new friends already.”
“That’s so wonderful to hear. I’m very happy for you.”
“What about the place you’re living in?” I asked. “Is it everything you thought it would be?”
“…It’s…great. Everything is going well.”
I knew my mother all too well. She was like an open book too. She was naturally an expressive person, and it was obvious that something was there, a hint of discomfort that she tried to keep to herself.
“Did I hear a pause?” I asked, trying to gently get her to talk.
“It’s nothing,” she said defensively. “I love this home and it was worth every penny.”
“Come on, just tell me. If there’s anything wrong I can come fix it for you. Or I could call a repairman for you.”
“I won’t be needing a repairman, but thanks for the offer.”
“Do you want to move back to the old apartment?” I asked.
“Not really,” she replied. “I’ve lived in that apartment for so long that I need the change of location. Besides, that apartment has already been sold and people are living there already.”
“Then what is it?”
“You’ll think I’m crazy if I told you.”
“If I thought you were crazy, I wouldn’t tell you. I’d just keep that information to myself.”
“How sweet of you,” she tried to joke back. “It’s almost my bedtime here. It was good to hear your voice again.”
She sounded like her feelings were hurt from being teased.
“It was only a joke mom. Come on, you’ve made me curious. Tell me.”
She paused for a moment. “I think this place is haunted.”
Then we both paused from her seemingly random revelation. Could it be? Did she really just say that?
“Yes, you heard me; I think this house is haunted.”
“And why would you think that?” I asked.
“Because I hear noises at night. Strange noises. They would happen randomly.”
“It’s probably leaky pipes or rats between the walls. I mean, that place is old. What do you expect?”
“This place has been inspected for everything, plumbing, pests, you name it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten up in the middle of the night to make sure all the windows are locked or if something was crawling around. I’ve spent hours during the day trying to figure out what the noises are. And… nothing.”
I thought for a few seconds. “There’s gotta be a reasonable explanation. I really don’t know what to say mom. Maybe you’re just overreacting because of how scary your house looks at night. Honestly, that place gave me the creeps when I helped you move there.”
“I’m completely serious. The daytime is so quiet I can hear a pin drop. There’s no sound except for the cars outside and neighbors. But every midnight to dawn… there are these strange noises.”