Expiration Date

In 1986, my mom decided to move our small family into a new house. New to us, that is—we were moving from an ancient cabin on the outskirts of town to a home built just a decade prior. At that point, it was just me, my mom, and the dog—she hadn’t yet met Steve, and Mary hadn’t been born. At ten, I was happy it was just the two of us; she was my best friend.

The house was newer and bigger than the one in the woods. I had my own room for the first time, and I spent a lot of time reading and playing alone. From what I remember, I enjoyed the first few weeks of this newfound independence—I held court among my dolls, played hide-and-seek with the teddy bear, and raced myself in circles around the bedroom.

From the day we arrived, I knew I wasn’t alone in my room. Growing up in isolation, I knew what it felt like—the bedroom was different. Sometimes I would hear footsteps and knocking noises, but I shrugged them off. Doll court was more important.

Weird things started to happen about a month after we’d moved in. The banging got louder, and I’d shout, infuriated by the interruption, “Shut up! I’m trying to read!” Mom was moderately concerned, but assumed I was playing with an imaginary friend. I didn’t realize it, but she couldn’t hear the banging.

A few weeks later, I started to experience weird dreams—I relived foreign but commonplace memories in the house. I would remember, in vivid detail, walking between the laundry room and my mother’s office. I remembered sitting in the basement, amid construction (it was being finished), playing with toy cars. One morning, after waking up from a cellar dream, I asked Mom when it had been finished. She was surprised—the basement had, in fact, always been finished.

Another week later, I woke up, suddenly, standing in the center of the basement. But that’s all that happened. Really. I woke up confused and shuffled my way back to bed. Eventually, the dreams stopped, and the banging dulled and became sporadic, disappearing altogether around the time of my 12th birthday. I don’t know what it was, but I’m convinced there was some type of presence in the house. I know this isn’t how these stories generally end, but I guess it moved on, letting us live our lives.