The farm house stood mostly straight but the wind blew right through the north walls during the bitter, humid Ozark winters. We arrived at the twenty acre farm when I was six. The parents started remodeling the rotted-through, creaking place from the first day.
My brother Steve and I went up the bare stairs to explore. My sister, Sunny, was only two years old and stayed with mom. The attic reeked of disuse. Its unfinished walls and ceiling were dusted with cobwebs and someone had tacked sheets of styrofoam to the ceiling joists. Several of these styrofoam rectangles had come partially untacked and leaned down into the room.
Another owner had built curtain walls so the slope of the roof line ended abruptly at about four feet, leaving long, triangular spaces running invisible beyond the scope of the living space.
We stared around. I tried to put a brave face on it as I wanted my own bedroom but it didn’t work. After thirty seconds or so, my brother and I simultaneously felt a threatening presence billowing into the room. We screamed and bolted for the stairs, not stopping even when we got to the main floor, not stopping until we found mom and touched her like she were home base.
Mom shook her head and assured us there was nothing to fear. Dad, the handiest handy man around, finished the stud walls and ceiling with Sheetrock and tape and mud and the bare plywood floor got covered with carpeting. I watched the furnishings being carted up the stairs with dread and explained to my mother I was fine sleeping in the living room. This was not an effective ploy. That night, after dark, we went upstairs. Mom tucked us in and prayed with us.
The attic was not wired for electricity so an extension cord ran from the lamp, across the room, and down the stairs to an outlet on the main floor. Mom left and I waited in rigid silence until the light went out when she unplugged the extension cord. There would be no relief until morning.