I remember being about 8 years old. It was about the time I started taking piano lessons. My parents had just bought an old baby grand for me to start learning and practicing on.
We lived in the country just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. I lived on the second floor of our former plantation house. I was told as a child that the family that had once lived here made quite a living in agriculture predominately delving in labor accomplished through slave trade. Not that this really matters, but I just want to inform the reader of the age of the house. My room was on the second floor just beyond the doubled ended spiral staircase. The living room where our piano sat faced the Ashley River, but it could not be seen from the top of the staircase.
One night I could not sleep. I had been tossing and turning for what seemed like hours on end. Of course, I was an eight year old child so time seemed to pass slower than it would for an adult. I kept drifting off in to slumberland when finally I was awakened by the sound of a melodious piano being played. I felt as if I faintly remembered the sonata from my piano teacher's playing. But, the thought occurred to me, who would be playing the piano in the middle of the night? Neither my parents nor siblings had ever played the piano so my mind was sent racing. I was terrified beyond belief.
I slowly crawled out of bed and onto the floor tiptoeing over to my bedroom door. I opened it as if moving in slow motion as to not creak it. I moved down the hall, trying not to make a sound as I began to descend the staircase. As I walked, the piano playing got even louder. I turned the bottom of the staircase and peered across the entryway into the living room.
I stared at the baby grand piano which was in the middle of the floor. Before my eyes I saw something that I will never forget. To this day it still haunts the daylights out of me. There was a very pale white woman, fashioned in a proper ball gown from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, sitting at the piano playing it. She stopped upon my entrance. She turned over her left shoulder and looked straight into my eyes. She raised her left arm, moved to the right of the piano bench and motioned for me to sit beside her on the piano bench.
I stood there mouth gaping open in shock as chills covered my body. Her fingers told me to come to her as she sat on the left side of the bench just waiting for me to sit down. I screamed at the top of my lungs as I ran up the staircase straight into my parent's room.
My father thought that someone was dying for me to scream in such a manner. Barely understanding my nonsensical ravings of madness he rushed with me downstairs, shotgun in hand. He threw the light switch on and bolted into the living room. There was no one to be seen. He looked all over our house and found no woman. The only thing that was any different than usual was that the piano bench was pulled out from under the piano. I never would have left it out.
I had learned six months earlier that you never leave the bench out in our house. Forgetting this had given me many beatings. But this night, the bench was out. I had not been beaten for forgetting to push it under the piano because I had placed it in its position. So how did it get pulled out? I will never know. I just assume my mind projected the entire situation. I haven't seen this woman since this incident, but I am still looking.
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