Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What's it like to live without fear?

Christie Geier-Pratt grew up in Kansas City, spending her youth in one of the grand old houses in the northeast section of the city. The home’s large second floor, like many in the neighborhood, had been turned into apartments for soldiers returning from World War II.

Christie’s family moved into the first floor in 1964, just before she began third grade, and left during her sophomore year in high school. During that time, Christie’s parents returned the upstairs to family living … and awakened something that would haunt Christie for years.

“It started day one,” Christie said.

Her father and brothers were running errands and Christie was home with her mother and older sister.

“My sister was upstairs and my mom was in the dining room,” Christie said. “She told us to stop crying. We weren’t crying.”

Christie’s mother called the girls into the dining room where the sound of a weeping girl spread through the room.

“When you stepped into the dining room you could hear this sobbing and moaning,” Christie said. “It came in waves. It would get louder then it would fade away. If you weren’t paying attention to it you would miss it.”

The crying lasted about 40 minutes, but they only heard it in the dining room. The crying didn’t make Christie uneasy; the feeling of being watched did.

“Never before or never since I lived in that house did I have that feeling of being watched,” she said. “It was acute and was frightening at times. It was in my room on the second floor, and in a few other parts of the house – it was overwhelming.”

So much so, she wouldn’t go upstairs at night without her sister and she never changed clothes in her room.

“There was a huge stairway that went upstairs and I would wait on my sister who was five years older than me,” she said. “I would never go in my room and go to sleep by myself.”

Christie’s friends didn’t want to stay the night because they also felt they were being watched.

“It was just creepy to be in that room,” she said.

Things would bang in the attic, doors and the downstairs cabinets would slam in the night and Christie felt unseen hands holding hers.

“I remember thinking, I wonder what it would be like living in a house that wasn’t haunted?’” she said.

One night when Christie’s older sister, then a high school senior, came home from a date, they both experienced something that made them tell their mother they wanted to move.

“My sister was dating then and would come back and smoke (on the deck),” Christie said. “(One night) she said, ‘stay up and I’ll bring you something.’”

Christie tried to stay awake, but finally fell asleep on her bed.

“All of a sudden my bed started going back and forth,” she said. “It was like someone was pulling my mattress back and forth. I had to hold on.”

Christie’s sister had come home after curfew and, afraid the noise from Christie’s room would wake up their parents, ran there.

“I heard my sister running through the room and she jumped on the bed and said, ‘what are you doing? You’ll wake up mom and dad.’”

She thought Christie had been jumping on the bed … she wasn’t. But it wasn’t what Christie’s sister heard that upset her, it’s what she saw.

“She said, ‘you weren’t supposed to go on the deck without me and I saw you there,’” Christie said. “It wasn’t me. (From outside) my sister saw someone get up from my bed and walk out the door.”

They ran from the room, but something followed them.

“All of a sudden I felt tingling from my shoulders to my knees,” Christie remembered. “I said, ‘do you feel that?’ She said, ‘the tingling?’ Then she said, ‘I’m not living here anymore.’ Now I had validation.”

Christie’s family moved from the house in 1972.

“Lots of people have different experiences growing up and they are just what they are,” Christie said. “But when we moved I had peace, peace to live.”

Copyright 2007 by Jason Offutt

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