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A Passive Portrait

It's time for a spooky story.

I grew up in a house that was about 200 years old. So naturally, everything about it was creepy.

There was one portrait in particular that freaked everyone—including myself—out.

It all started the day my mother received the portrait of Louisa.

My mom had been trying to track down the family portraits of the original owners of our house for years, and suddenly she got a call from a lady saying she had a portrait of Louisa. Louisa was the lady of the house who had not wanted to marry into the family.

My mother didn’t have a ton of money and told the woman on the phone as much, asking if they could work out a payment plan for the portrait. The woman said she didn’t want money; she just wanted to drop the picture off. My mom asked her to at least come in for tea. The woman said, nope, she just wanted to drop it off on the porch in the morning.

My mom got up crazy early to wait on the porch to meet the woman. A big brown paper bag, complete with expensive portrait, was waiting for her on the porch.

Of course, my mother just trotted right upstairs and hung the painting. Because that’s the thing to do with sketchy items dropped off on your porch.

It only took a few days for weird things to start happening.

First, it was little things like dishes ending up in weird places. Within a few weeks, couches were moving across the house.

My mother, being the sensible woman that she is, decided to go to the pastor across the street and ask him to talk to the painting.

The pastor was a little skeptical. First Reformed Protestants don’t really believe in exorcism. But I think my mother intimidated him, so he came. He only talked to the portrait for about five minutes, and left.

Things were quiet for about a week. Everything stayed where we had left it the night before when we woke up in the morning.

The truce lasted for about a week.

Once furniture started moving itself again, my mother stomped back across the street, and the pastor was ready for her.

He figured my mom would come back, looking for more help, so he’d been researching. He trooped back to the house with his guitar and a giant stack of books.

He spent hours in the hall, saying who knows what to the painting. When he finally came down, he said “not to worry. They’d (he and Louisa) come to an understanding.”

And I guess they had. From then on things were quiet. Though I never could quite shake the feeling that they were only quiet by Louisa’s will. One wrong move, and we’d be back to searching for the couch every morning.

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