USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘home alone’
general

Scary story

“When I was in Elementary school there was this weird scary story, well it scared me to death at the time. This one girl, Samantha told me her babysitter told it to her.

This one girls parents left her home for a night, home alone and when the girl went to bed she felt her dog licking her hand and then heard dripping in the bathroom. Um and then she went into the bathroom and saw that her dog was dead in the bathroom with blood dripping. That was the dripping. And then she went back to her room and there was a man in there that killed her.

Samantha told everybody in our class this story, at least all the girls. She was a few years older than us so she seemed really cool and we believed her. ”

So about how old were you?
“I would say like second grade so seven or eight.”

For how long did this story scary you?

“It scared me for awhile. I would say, I asked my mom about the story and she said she had heard it too. So i stopped being so scared by it because I realized it was fake. But now I don’t know if she said that because it was true or she was just trying to make me feel better.”

Did it change any of your behavior, after hearing it?

“Not really. It just made me more cautious at night. I didn’t want to walk my house at night by myself. But I got over that.”

So this story wasn’t popular amongst the boys?

“No, it was definitely just the girls.”

 

The informant has provided a cautionary tale warning against children being (left) home alone. It is interesting that the informant noted that the story was directed towards the girls and not boys, even before I inquired again about it. The story warns against young females about being alone and not young boys. It could be said that females are more physically vulnerable than males. Also, girls especially young ones are more often victims of abuse and assault than their male counterparts. I also found it interesting that there is no implications that the girl in the story put herself in the position of being home alone so she is not directly responsible for the repercussions. I’m assuming since the original source of this story was a babysitter, her intention was to reinforce the important of her presence while the girls parents were away. Most elementary school kids perceive themselves to be older than they are and without need of adult supervision so this tale serves as a violent reminder that they still need to be taken care of and protected.

general
Legends
Narrative

The Red Haired Lady

“So this happened in a town called Santo Domingo, its uh, its way up in the north, north central part of Costa Rica, away from the beaches. I was eight years old at the time, and we just moved to this house, uh, it was um, what was particular about this house was that beside it was a twin house. Which is, what I mean is that, at one point, the two houses were one house, and they just got divided in two, by a wall. So, two stories. No basement. Which I’m kind of glad about now that I come to think of it. Cause.. cause considering the future ghost situation, a basement would not have been the best thing. So it began with my grandma. As it always does. Cause she’s the superstitious one, you know, she’s got charms, and rituals that she does to banish ghosts from the house.. but you know what was incredible was, was that she was just, calm about it. That was just what she did, you know. She did that and went on with her daily routine. Whatever. Uh, one day, I heard her talking about ummm… this red haired lady, with a noose around her neck, which she saw in the other house next to us, which was vacant at the time. Which is not a good thing too, cause it was empty. And it just sucked know that, you know, there’s an empty house, and my grandma saw a ghost in it, and it was right there, next to me. But you know, I carried on fine. To the point where I almost forgotten. So one day, I passed up an offer to go run some errands, so I just stayed home, like a bad grandchild. Ah, and then, what was I – well at that time I was actually into clay pots. And I just made a batch of pots and left them outside to dry, in the patio, and I decided to go check on them. And when, when I got there, I got the worst feeling of being watched. Just, just, it was there. And I was like errrrr. And you know, before turning around, I knew it was coming from. Cause where I was standing, the only place where if I turn around directly, there’s going to be a window, which is on the other house. and I knew it was coming from there. And I was like, oh god, its empty, what’s it going to be? So I turned around and looked at the window and, well, for me, I don’t actually look at people’s eyes when I acknowledge them, I always look at the mouth first before moving to the eyes. But you know, I saw the mouth, and I found myself looking at just the slightest of smirks – of the red haired lady. But no noose this time. She was just standing there, looking at me. Well I assumed she was looking at me. I didn’t look at her eyes because at that moment I felt that if I did – it was over. I would have acknowledged her and she would neeeeever leave me alone until she had my soul. So I figured, whatever! I didn’t do anything to her so I don’t know her or anything, so I’m just going to ignore her. And I did. I just went back inside and tried to watch tv. And after a few weeks, I forgot about it.”

 

 

 

Steven Calvo Milanés grew up in Costa Rica; a country that he describes to be heavily religious, and therefore, widely accepts the concept of spirits. Prior to telling me this story, he said it is commonplace to say that dead relatives have walked by you and then to carry on with your day. Due to this culture, he also mentions that all of his experiences relating to the supernatural have only occurred in Costa Rica and that after his move to Canada, he has stopped believing in ghosts. In addition, he pushed for me to understand that this particular experience with the ghost in his house was situational: from emphasizing his childhood desire for ghosts to exist to highlighting that the sky on that particular day to be strange and gray.

His extended family seems to have accepted the red haired lady as another tenant of their household. They have never inquired for the reasons of why she is there or why she wears a noose around her neck. He says that if they bother her in any way, it is simply being disrespectful to the dead. At that time, the Milanés household never questioned her existence and merely coexisted with her.

The most interesting aspect of Steven’s story is the sense of inevitability he incorporates in its telling. All the features of that day seem to weave together to frame the encounter with the ghost: the large, empty house, being “a bad grandchild” on that day, and standing in the only spot that is in view of the other building’s window. These features are common in framing a ghost story. The first two features reflect on how ghosts can function to become one’s moral police – Steven mentioned that he never refused errands after this encounter.

The other fascinating feature of this story is his belief that looking into the eyes of the ghost would end up in a haunting. He now says that at that time, he just was not ready to face the fact that she would exist, that maybe her expression would change or she would ‘take him in’, he explained later. He explains that he did not want anything to do with her and thus, refused to acknowledge her. On another note, he claims that the red colour of her hair has no significance in his memory, and simply means that a red haired woman died. This differs from the significance of black hair in Japanese ghost stories.

This story has many elements of a classic ghost story, the large, empty house, an impending knowledge of the existence of the red haired lady, and that prickly sensation of being watched.

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