During those final desperate moments of her life, was she frightened by her own intentions or steadfast in her resolve? How could the woman of such an advanced age climb a rickety ladder to the hayloft of the barn then reach over to a beam from which to suspend the rope? Had life become so intolerable to a beleaguered old soul, the drastic measure appeared to be her only option for retreat? Perhaps she’d been ill and had suffered too long in her own wrinkled skin. What measure of pain prompts the notion to deliberately end a precious life? Had she carried her woes up that ladder or had she made peace with the concept and her creator? Did she believe the decision was her own privileged one to make, or did this woman suspect she risked punishment from the God who reserves such judgments as His own, unforgiving of those who take this matter into mortal hands? Only one thing is known for certain; far more than a century ago Mrs. John Arnold decided to claim her life at the age of ninety-three and was discovered, cold and gray, as stiff as the wood from which she was found dangling in the rafters of a barn. Now, suspended in the ether just as surely as she was detected hanging at the unraveling end of a makeshift noose, her immortality lives on as the stuff of legend and folklore; a mystery from the ages…for the ages. She may well have considered it her only escape and yet, truth be told, there was no escape for her wounded spirit. Whether as an act of eternal damnation for an ill-conceived exit from a mortal existence, or as the dire consequence of the premature departure, her spirit lingers still, remaining in her old home place in the country; a farmhouse where she once lived out her days then died by her own hand. May Almighty God have mercy on her immortal soul.
This woman is not alone. There are others, many others who share her fate; what some might describe as a fate worse than death. Perhaps she is the one who tucked the girls in at night, the one who’d loved them well and tenderly kissed their foreheads and smelled of flowers and fruit. It was a presence of comfort and caring; one who never meant to frighten or disturb youngsters in their own beds. Instead, she was a light in the darkness of night; someone to watch over them. It was this holy presence which tempered their fear. In the framework of an inexplicable existence for a family dwelling in a house alive with death, it was a welcome presence, a protective influence in an otherwise scary place. She was not the only one. Johnny Arnold, presumably a relative, made the same critical decision to take his own life in the eaves of the house where he remains. As gentle a spirit as this elderly woman was, he too made his presence known. He was an omnipresent spirit, from the day they arrived at the farm, there to greet them in the dark shadows of a doorway, one cast as the figment from another dimension. Leaning back into his perpetual pose, watching, no doubt wondering about a sudden changing of the guard, he too would soon become a familiar part of the new landscape. And then there was Bathsheba…a God-forsaken soul.
Consider this a proper introduction to but a few of the many who still dwell among the living in a house revealing as many secrets. It took some time for the seven mortals involved, decades to realize, ultimately, they were glad to meet them. What they learned was worth it, though it cannot be simply stated as in the final analysis because this subject will be subject to analysis for the rest of their natural born lives. A lone fear remaining among them now is the potential for an unwelcomed postmortem return to the house they abandoned so long ago as each will eventually, inevitably enter the realm of supernatural life at the threshold of death’s door: a fear of being drawn home again, there to resolve the questions left unanswered during a mortal existence; a dreaded possibility. Best to reconcile spirit matters in life than to face them in death; or risk becoming one of the restless spirits of a house drawing souls back to a place in the country, as it had done in life, perhaps with purpose and reason.