• Contributing Author

The Living Room Dancer

In our old home, our living room and family room were separated by a pair of French doors. The living room was used only when my wife Deb played the piano or when Libby, our anti-social Black Lab, would sit on the sofa, gazing out the window at the people and cars passing by.

Deb decided one Saturday afternoon to shampoo the living room carpet. She shooed Libby out and proceeded to vacuum and shampoo. When she had finished, she blocked off the hallway entrance to the living room and closed the French Doors.

She came into the Family room and looked at Libby, who was lying in her second favorite place; the dog bed in front of the TV stand.

“I got fistfuls of dog hair out of the vacuum, Lib.” As if she understood Deb perfectly, Libby glanced towards the family room sofa, where, drawn by Deb’s voice, Honey, our Yellow Lab, had come out of her hiding place behind the sofa and climbed onto the couch, waiting for Deb to sit down and start petting her. “Don’t look at her, Lib; all the hair was black.” Libby snorted, turned away from the three of us, and laid back down in the bed.

An hour or so later, we had settled into our routine. Deb was sitting on the couch, reading a book and Honey was sleeping next to her. I was sitting in my Lazy boy watching TV and Libby was lying in the dog bed with her head hanging over the side, gazing into the living room. Behind me to my left was the kitchen and beyond the kitchen was the laundry room with its door to the garage. I heard the laundry room door to the garage open and close.

We weren’t alarmed because my sister-in-law was living with us at the time and we were also expecting our daughter Elissa to stop over. Libby’s head popped up and she looked to a spot over my shoulder. I glanced over but saw nothing. Turning back, Libby was moving her head as if she was watching someone walking through the kitchen, down the hall, and into the living room. She stared at whatever she was seeing for a few minutes, then tracked the invisible object back out of the living room, through the kitchen and laundry room. Then we heard the door open and close again. Libby laid her head back down.

I turned to look at Deb, and she shrugged her shoulders. “I’m always hearing noises. So are you. You know, we hear that door open and close all the time” .

“Okay, then how do you explain Libby?”.

Deb sighed and said, “Libby is a strange dog.”

Then we heard the door open and close again, but this time, it was followed by the sounds of footsteps and voices. Our daughter Elissa came through the kitchen with our granddaughter, Lexi, on her heels.

Elissa said, “I have to use the bathroom” and headed to the steps upstairs. Lexi jumped onto the sofa and proceeded to hug and pet Honey, all the while chattering away with Deb. I could see Elissa hesitate for a few seconds, looking into the living room, then continue up the steps. A few minutes later, Elissa came downstairs and stopped to look at Deb and asked,

“Mom, what’s the deal in the Living Room?”

“I don’t understand.”

“All of those footprints in there.”

Deb looked at me and we both got up and went down the hall and looked into the living room. Arranged in a perfect circle about six feet in diameter were impressions of pairs of tiny feet; all the toes pointed to the center.

Deb looked at me and said, “This is scary.”

Lexi looked up at us and piped, “Maybe the little old lady in the garage did it.” Deb looked startled. “What little old lady?”

“The little old ghost lady who’s been here since Aunt Amy moved in.”

Deb thought for a moment, then went over to a bookcase and pulled out an old photo album. Laying it on the dining room table, she waved Lexi over and said, “Look through these pictures and see if you recognize anyone.”

Lex flipped through a few pages and then stopped. “This is the little old lady”, pointing at a woman in a photograph from the 1970s. Deb looked at the photo and said quietly; “That’s Barda, my grandmother, or rather, my step-grandmother. She was a musician; loved playing the piano and dancing. Amy has a lot of her stuff stored in her boxes in the garage.”

We all looked back into the living room, then at each other without saying a word. Then Libby sauntered down the hallway, went into the living room and jumped up on the sofa. With a last disdainful look at the four of us, she resumed her observations of the street outside.

Late that night I woke up suddenly, sure that I had heard piano music. I rolled over and looked at Deb, but the only sound I heard was Honey snoring. I rolled back and closed my eyes but sleep never came back to me that night.

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