Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Headless Woman In Red

Three years ago we were transferred to this area with my husband's job. We were sent down ahead of time on a house hunting trip and my husband's assistant Cathy made a very sweet and thoughtful gesture by setting us up at a local bed-and-breakfast, the "Ashford Manor Inn." I was SO excited because we had never stayed at a bed-and-breakfast before and the photos I found online of this 1893 Victorian Estate were absolutely breathtaking!!  I could not wait to get there. When we arrived, we noticed that ours was the only car in the parking lot which meant we had the whole place to ourselves. 

We met the owners David and Mario and the housekeeper Sophie. Mario showed us to our room on the second floor and then excused himself to the cottage where he and David resided behind the main building. We settled into bed for the night and per usual my husband was asleep within five minutes of his head hitting the pillow.  I, on the other hand felt giddy and restless in anticipation of our meeting with the realtor the following morning in search of the perfect house. There was a small TV on the dresser but the remote control didn't work and I was too lazy to get up and down changing channels. My eyes finally settled on the nightstand next to me where one lonely book sat. I picked it up. "Haunted Atlanta and Beyond" by William N Bender. Hmm…sounds fun. It's October--it's Halloween season--I'm all snuggled up in this cozy bed--let's read!  I opened up to the Table of Contents and browsed the list….Civil war ghosts of Atlanta, Spirits in the Dekalb County Courthouse, etc. Then suddenly I had a very unsettling feeling. Could this house be listed in this book? Is that why it's on the nightstand? No! Surely not. I nervously finished my skim of the Table of Contents and there it was. "Spirits of Ashford Manor" pages 191 - 196. SHIT!! I knew that I should put the book down right then and there because I believe in this stuff; I mean I watch "Ghost Adventures" with my kids. But I couldn't help myself--I had to know. I flipped to the chapter and read the title across the top of the page, "The Headless Woman in Red." Oh my God! I threw the book down and immediately woke up my husband. 

Me: Honey--honey, wake up! We have to get out of here; this place is haunted. 

Mark: Huh? What are you talking about? 
Me: I'm talking about this book "Haunted Atlanta." Ashford Manor is listed in here!
Mark: So what? 
Me: So what? So it's haunted by a headless woman in a red dress!! 
Mark: Put the book down and go to sleep. 
Me: You don't even care? 
Mark: No. 

Ugh!! I knew he had to go into the new office for a 6am meeting and I knew he needed his sleep but how was I going to calm myself down? I decided to pick the book back up and face my fears. Maybe if I read a little more I would find that it wasn't as scary as it sounded. So I read on…

 "Sophie has been employed as a housekeeper at Ashford Manor since 1997 and has witnessed many strange occurrences." Sophie? As in the Sophie we just met downstairs? So these aren't even old stories. Shit! 

And I read on

"One afternoon Sophie and her daughter were folding laundry on the edge of a large bed in the guestroom on the second floor." Wait that's our room--dammit! 
"Sophie and her daughter at the same moment turned suddenly to their left. Someone had walked soundlessly down the hallway gliding past the bedroom door. Sophie recalled that the apparition was a woman in a blood red dress but most frightening, she appeared to have no head. Sophie's daughter silently mouthed the words 'did you see that' and Sophie whispered 'yes.'" 

I slammed the book shut and woke Mark up again. 

Me: Mark, I am totally freaking out!

Mark: What? Why?
Me: Sophie the housekeeper folds laundry in this room--OUR room and the headless woman glides past the door. 
Mark: Give me that book right now. 
Me: No. Why?
Mark: Give it to me! And with that he snatched the book out of my hands and stuffed it far under his pillow, then rolled back over to go to sleep. 

I lay there with my eyes peeled open. I started praying. I went back-and-forth between prayers and breathing exercises until I finally fell asleep. The next morning Mark kissed me goodbye at 5:30am and told me he would be back to pick me up at 9am for house hunting. Now I was completely alone in this house. I pulled the covers way up over my head and lay there with my eyes wide open listening intently to everything around me. When I could no longer put it off I climbed out of bed to shower. Trapped by fear, I had only allowed myself 20 minutes to get ready. I turned the shower on and then turned to face whoever was in the room with me. 

Me: "Umm, excuse me Ma'am. If I could please have a quick minute of your time. First I want to say that I'm really sorry about whatever happened to your head. I'm sure that was just an awful experience; I really--well I just can't even imagine. But I also want to say that I suffer from anxiety; I even take medication for it.  I was diagnosed with a Panic Disorder in 1995, so if you could please just not mess with me while I take a super quick shower I promise I will be out of your way in no time!! Please Ma'am. Please!   

It was by far the fastest shower I've ever taken in my life. I still had shampoo in my hair when I got out.
We spent the day house hunting and returned to the dreaded bed-and-breakfast that evening. I had begged my husband all day to check us out and go to the Hampton Inn but he wasn't budging!

Mark: They have a 2 night minimum stay here anyway and think about how that would hurt Cathy's feelings when she went out of her way to set us up in such a special place. 

Me: Oh ya? Well I'm sure Cathy would understand completely if you explain that she booked us in a haunted house! 
Mark: You're being ridiculous! No one is going to mess with us--no one is even here. 
Me: Exactly! That's my problem. If the hotel was packed I wouldn't care so much but since we are the only guests here, that gives her only 1 choice of who to fuck with. 
Mark: I can't even talk to you right now. 
Me: Okay Mark, let me ask you a question and I want you to really think about it and give me an honest answer. If you get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and you run into this headless woman, how will that make you feel? 
Mark: I mean it would be awkward. 
Me: Awkward? Lol. You would have a freaking heart attack!
Mark: Okay listen, we will stay tonight and meet our 2 night minimum and if this is still a problem for you in the morning then we will go to the Hampton Inn, I promise. 

So we settle into bed for the second night and Mark crashes and you know what I do, don't you? I pick up the damned book. This time I'm reading about the owners Mario and David 

"One night as they were sleeping, they heard a huge crash in the main dining hall below. The arm of a large brass chandelier had broken and dropped a Crystal globe to the floor. Upon investigation they learned that the previous owners had just done repairs and that all of the joints and brass support arms had been securely re-sauntered specifically to prevent this type of weakness." 

Ugh! I slammed the book shut again. Why do I do this to myself? Somehow I got myself to sleep and the very next day--one of the happiest days of my life--we checked into the very happily UNHAUNTED Hampton Inn!! Yay!

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