The Note

My wife and I have always left notes for each other—on the bedside table, on the refrigerator, on the door, pretty much everywhere. They’re as touching as they are helpful, service as brief reminders that we’re in each other’s lives… but, also, that we might be out of milk. We recently moved from the city to a more rural area to purchase our first house. The house structure is a bit wonky, so we end up exiting the building from the basement. It leads directly into the garage and includes a finished, vestibule-like area for shoes and coats. We put a whiteboard in that space to record messages to each other—your mom called, I have book club tonight, the car needs, gas, et cetera.

After a few months of living in the house, we settled into a schedule. We got to know each other’s new habits and hobbies, eventually starting to abandon the basement whiteboard notes. Every once in a while, a “I didn’t get a chance to grocery shop” would show up, but those messages were few and far between. Suddenly, however, that changed.

It started with weird erasure marks. I’d get home to see that morning’s message defaced in some way–“I didn’t get a chance to grocery shop” would be changed to “I didn’t get a chance.” Small things that I normally wouldn’t have noticed without the weird deliberateness. I asked my wife about it, but she didn’t think it was anything to worry about—”You probably brushed it on your way out.” I wasn’t convinced.

After a few weeks, new messages began to appear. They were always vaguely threatening—one that sticks out in my memory read, “Why didn’t she call?” It was something that my wife very well could have written (the handwriting was strange, but similar enough to hers), but she never knew what I was talking about when I brought it up. The messages began to become even more aggressive–“Is life worth living?” And “I don’t know what to do.” I was confused and scared.

Eventually, we ended up calling the police. The came, searched the building, and couldn’t find anything. They told us to call if anything else popped up. The messages paused for some time after that, and I got more comfortable telling neighbors about it in passing. That’s how we ended up solving the mystery.

I’d been telling my neighbor, Dave, about the strange messages and how they randomly stopped. He was intrigued and asked to see a picture. “I’ll do you one better,” I said. “I’ll show you the actual white board.” I brought him into the basement so he could read the last message for himself. “Are you kidding me? I know that handwriting,” he laughed. I was shocked.

As it turns out, Dave’s son had been struggling in school. He’d been bullied so badly they had to choice into a new school system—right around the time the messages disappeared. Dave called his son right there, and he confessed to writing the notes on our board. He said it felt good to get these thoughts off his chest, even though he knew it was at our expense. I should have been angry, but to be totally honest, I was just relieved. The house wasn’t haunted, we didn’t have a malevolent intruder, and we could go on with our lives.