Ghost Story, Grandma's Exit

Grandm'a Exit, a Ghost Story





Written by George West

and told by

Angela Davis, the Yarnspinner


My grandmother was probably the most intimidating woman in the world. Her favorite saying was: "You’ll enjoy yourself, whether you like it or not."

She meant every word of it too. She could stare a cloud out of a sky if she didn’t want it to rain. It wasn’t that she was mean, because she could be real nice if she wanted too. It’s just that she had a backbone of iron and a mind of her own perched on top of that backbone. She was absolutely the most determined individual I have known in my entire life. When she was sixty years old, she had a stroke. She couldn’t move or talk, but four years after that stroke just by her own sheer willpower, she was walking and talking again.


Everything in her house was extremely neat and immaculate. Nothing was ever out of place. Items in her refrigerator always had a little doily beneath it. Even all of our toys in the hall closet were always immaculate and smelled of camphor and new paint. The outside of her home was just the same: her garden was always perfect, her lawns were level, her hedges were straight and lush, her brick walkways were always scrubbed. Her vines were pruned and trained, her flowers in perfect order and there was always something blooming. Even the birdbath was spotless. My grandmother wouldn’t let us go into the garden, not because she thought we would hurt ourselves, she just didn’t want us to mess thing up.


During the summer I had to go over to her house, climb her holly tree and remove all the new growth. This was hot and dirty work. By May, the temperature and humidity were well into the nineties. Once I bagged all the leaves I’d go to the front door and be let in by Agnes, my grandmother’s housekeeper. Agnes would lead me through that cool dark interior of my grandmother’s spotless house and after washing up in the small bathroom at the back of the house, I’d have to sit at the mahogany dinner table surrounded by many mirrored sideboards.

My grandmother would usually be waiting for me. Then she’d interrogate me about my summer plans. Then after a long silence, my grandmother would hump at me especially if she didn’t like my plans, and produce a crisp unwrinkled $5 bill. She would sit that $5 on the highly polished surface of that table, humph again, and sigh and using just her fingertips begin to slide that $5 bill over to me and leave. Agnes would take me into the kitchen and give me a roast beef sandwich.

 One summer day, I walked up to my grandmother’s house and Agnes, strangely enough met me at my grandmother’s gate in her street clothes. She handed me two trash bags and told me that my grandmother had sent her home for the day, she added that my sandwich was on a plate in the refrigerator and then she walked down the street and got on the first streetcar that came up. I turned and walked into my grandmother’s garden and mounted the limbs of that sticky, stinky, scratchy tree.

Along about noon time, I had cleaned the tree’s limbs, trash bags were all filled and I was an itchy mess. I walked up to the front of my grandmother’s house, rang that doorbell and waited and waited and waited. I didn’t know what to do. Grandmother didn’t come to the door and Agnes was back at her house by now. There was no way I was going to barge into my grandmother’s home. So I leaned over to the window by the door and peeked in. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, The living room was neat and dark and I didn’t see any sign of my grandmother. I pressed the doorbell again and heard the ring echoing way in the back of the house. Still nothing. I went over to the front door and grasped that polished brass door knob turned it and pushed it in. That heavy door swung open. Cold air swirled around me raising goosebumps on my dry skin. I stepped onto that hall carpet and closed the door behind me.


"Grandmother?" I called out. She didn’t answer. I walked down the hallway, my tennis shoes squeaking on the parquet floor. I called for my grandmother again. She still didn’t answer. I waited., a lump in my throat. Then, I walked into my grandmother’s bedroom. Uh-oh! There she was lying on her bed asleep. Now the last thing I wanted to do was to wake my grandmother up and ask her for my $5. So I watched her for a long time, wishing she’d wake up. That’s when I noticed it.



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