Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2018
High School Winners

Third Place

Our third place High School winning entry was written by Dorey Heyer, a freshman who attends the Briar Woods High School in Ashburn, Virginia.


Dorey Heyer

I’ve been keeping a headcount of how many times I’ve been told I’m similar to my grandmother. It’s a very, very long number. According to the postman, I look just like her. The grocer said I have her exact same personality. If I made a list of the things people said to me, it would include: “That’s just what your grandmother would say,” or “I see so much of your grandma in you.” None of the comments came from my mom, though. She hardly talked about Grandma at all. Grandma died when I was very young, young enough that I don’t remember anything about her. The only thing I have from her, something that I had begged my mom to keep, was her beautiful, antique doll. My mom had also kept Grandma’s journal, but she kept it locked away in her desk drawer and I’ve never read it. Some days, though, I’m tempted to unlock it and find out what my Grandma was really like, and if I was like her at all. Today happened to be one of those days. Today also happened to be one where my mom would be gone all day.

Don’t worry mom, I’ll make sure to lock the door at night,” I said, trying to contain my excitement as my mom headed out the door for her trip.

Are you sure you’ll be alright? I don’t have to go if you want,” my mom replied with a concerned look on her face. I gave her a cheerful smile.

No, no, go have fun! You’ll only be gone for one night.” Just enough time to read through Grandma’s journal- without you ever knowing.

Oh, well... have a good time. Don’t leave the house, please.” My mom rolled her suitcase across the driveway and threw it into the trunk. No problem, I thought as she climbed into the driver’s seat. After a quick goodbye, she drove away and I immediately raced up the stairs. Crouching down, my hand felt against the back of my mom’s wardrobe and found the key taped to it. After much anticipation, my hands began to tremble as I unlocked the drawer, and soon I was looking down upon a faded, yellowing book: my grandma’s journal.

I lifted it gently and walked to my room. Sitting down on my bed, I opened it and glanced down at the first page. Already, I knew what everyone said was true... that I was just like my grandmother. Her handwriting was very similar to mine, and she even swirled the i’s just like I did. The first few pages were all about her; her preferences, hobbies, favorite memories. My reading was interrupted by the garage door opening, and I instinctively shut the journal. I slid it under the bed in a hurried attempt to hide what I knew I wasn’t supposed to have. Luckily, it was just my brother grabbing something from the fridge, and soon he was back outside. I grabbed the journal and opened it back up again, resuming my reading from the fourth page.

Being a young girl trapped in a house with all this work to do, I hardly get to do anything exhilarating. Thankfully, I finished all of my chores yesterday. Hopefully Mama will let me do something today. Mark is chopping firewood, and his journal is right beside me... is it a sin to read from someone’s journal? Mama has never said so. Wait! I hear something. It sounds like my brother. I’ll write later!

I re-read that page again, my heart starting to race. I know I’m like my grandmother, that we look the same, write the same, enjoy the same hobbies... but this? This was something different. But maybe not. Maybe it was just a strange coincidence. I kept reading, this time almost hesitantly.

The strangest thing happened to me today! I had so badly wanted to go to the county fair. It was an annual activity that the whole county went to, including all of my friends. I didn’t have enough money for a ticket, though, even after my hard work in earning allowance. I had hoped one of my friends had an extra ticket, but they didn’t. My mother refused to pay for a ticket, even when I had practically begged, so I stormed out of the house to walk my anger off. That’s when I saw a piece of paper tucked under a few blades of grass in the lawn. Guess what it was. You guessed right! A ticket! What a strange coincidence.

I stared at the yellow page, my eyes travelling over the words once more. Hadn’t I just thought that? A strange coincidence? There was no way I was so similar to my grandma that we thought the same things. My stomach clenched at the idea of reading on, even though I knew I was being paranoid. Maybe I was going crazy. I opened the journal again, this time my hands shaking slightly.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written in this journal. After my last entry, when I was only a girl, I had wanted a new one since I thought my current one (this journal) wasn’t stylish enough. How silly! Many things have changed, and now I’m writing in this old one again, especially since now I’m old too. I know I’m almost eighty, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for what has been happening to me. I’ve been seeing John, blinking, and he’s gone. My dear husband passed away three years ago. I’ve been hearing strange sounds, like the flute Rebecca played before she left to Northville last year. Her playing was beautiful, like a bird’s song... am I going crazy?

This time I couldn’t take it. I shut the journal forcefully, breathing harder than normal. Once again, I had thought something, read my grandma’s journal, and read exactly what I had just been thinking. This was starting to feel less and less like a coincidence. With the journal still in hand, I ran downstairs and picked up the phone, dialing the number to the coroner’s office. I realized now that I had never found out how Grandma died. Maybe there was something in the bigger picture I didn’t know that would help me uncover this mystery of her journal. I pressed the call button, holding it to my ear and glancing warily at the journal I had been dying to read. It was time to find out what had really happened to my grandmother.

West County Coroner, how may I be of service?”

I tried to control my shaky breath as I said, “Could you please find the record of Eleanor Shane?”

Reasons for needing the record?” the Coroner replied, his voice as hard as stone.

Um, I want to know the cause of her death,” I stated truthfully. There was a moment of silence as I heard papers being shuffled. I waited nervously until I heard him mutter, “Ah, here it is. What is your relation to Eleanor Shane?”

I am her granddaughter.” I let my fingers wander over the journal’s cover to soothe my anxiety, but all it did was make me shiver.

Eleanor Shane died of Schizophrenia in a mental hospital.”

Schizophrenia? What’s that? And a mental hospital? Feeling my heart beat loudly, a drum inside me, I asked slowly, “What does that mean, sir?”

Eleanor Shane was crazy to the point that she died.”

My chest tightened, and it was getting harder and harder to think or breathe. If she went crazy, and I was almost identical to her... what did that mean for me? I hung up with a brief thank you and rushed up the stairs again, clutching Grandma’s journal and now looking at it differently. Was that why my mom never mentioned her? Because she was ashamed of Grandma going crazy? New questions flooded my mind. Was I going crazy?

I collapsed onto my bed and clutched my head. If I was so much like Grandma, would I get Schizophrenia? Would I live the rest of my life trapped in a mental hospital?

Suddenly curious to read more, I opened the journal and flipped to the page I had left off on. The writing had become a scrawl so messy to the point where I had to squint to read it. I translated some of it to read:

This hospital is a prison! There is only one tiny window on my wall. It looks out over the blue sky, where I long to be... I’d rather be there than here. Each day that goes by is a time bomb, and I’m waiting for it to go off and end. Oh, and John visited me the other day. I haven’t seen him in three years; isn’t that a shame! He told me many stories, but I couldn’t hear them. There was too much music. That’s funny. There’s no radio around. What’s happening to me? I wasn’t crazy until I looked at my doll. My beautiful doll I had as a child... the one I kept. I wasn’t crazy until it talked to me.

There was no need to re-read that page. I relaxed, the knots in my stomach loosening and my breathing returning to normal. That hadn’t happened to me, so those other pages really must have been a coincidence. My eyes wandered over to the doll on my dresser, staring at me with its porcelain face, and I smiled in despite of the fear I had felt before. I wasn’t going crazy after all. Dolls can’t talk, anyway. I turned back to the journal to return it to its rightful place, locked away in my mom’s room, when something moved on top of the dresser. All of a sudden I heard a voice.


Continue to the 2nd place story

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