Christmas Town ~The Craft Store
Tessa closed the door after the last of the children left the Craft Store. She loved the little tykes, but they were tiring. Not having children of her own, she loved holding the craft classes that were popular with the little ones. Today they made Christmas trees out of their hand prints in plaster. They painted them then wrapped them in paper the kids had decorated. They were quite adorable and Tessa was sure the parents were going to love their Christmas surprise. The children were definitely excited about it and chattered about the project even through the snack of cookies from the Bakery. The parents were also excited to have that hour and half away from the kids.
Tessa smiled as she locked the door and flipped the sign over to closed. Sometimes she wondered what having kids, a family, would have been like. She went to the back to clean up the classroom first. It was always a disaster and sure to put the thought of her own kids out of her mind. She had put all the supplies away, repapered the tables and was just mopping the floor when she heard the noise. It was faint and at first she wasn’t sure she heard it. Tessa shrugged and finished mopping. She heard the sound again when she was putting the mop back into the janitorial closet. It was almost a squeaking sound, but that would have to be a mighty big mouse. It seemed to come from the closet itself. Tessa moved everything looking for the source and found nothing.
“Maybe I am getting that Tinnitus that Rob from Church has!” she told the mop.
Tessa finished straightening up the craft store. It always took her longer on Wednesday Children’s Craft days to clean up and she was starving when she finally left the store.
“Thankfully my commute is short!” she laughed to herself.
It had snowed again, so she carefully walked to the side of the store to the stairs that led to her 2nd story apartment. Holding on to the rail, she climbed the stairs. When Tessa had bought the building it was winter time and her first experience with snow and ice. Born and raised on a tropical island, Tessa had fallen on her rear end many times before learning how to stay upright. He had retrofitted the stairs with no slip grips and took her time climbing them.
“Hello I’m home!” She announced to the house.
Nothing answered her. This was the time she felt the loneliest. She thought again how nice it would be to come home to something that missed her. Tessa hung her coat on the hook by the door. Even if no one answered the house smelled amazing. She had made roast beef and vegetables in the crockpot this morning and the aroma coming from the kitchen as tantalizing. Her stomach grumbled its impatience at being empty and Tessa scooped a big spoonful into a bowl. It was way too hot to eat so as it cooled, Tessa went to change into her sweatpants. She got her shirt almost off when she heard the same noise she had hear down in the shop. Tessa froze. She heard it again. It was a squeaky, whiny, kind of groaning sound. It sounded like it was coming from her bathroom. Tessa threw her sweatshirt on and tiptoed to the bathroom. She reached in and turned on the light. Nothing was there. It wasn’t a large bathroom and she could see every corner.
It was coming from the kitchen! Tessa ran to the kitchen. After opening every cabinet, looking in every pot Tessa gave up. Her stomach growled at her. She sat at the table and ate her now lukewarm roast, contemplating the sound. It didn’t sound like a mouse or a rat. It was faint and then loud at times. She had been in this building for five years and never heard such a thing before, so she didn’t think it was a spirit of a long lost occupant of the building. In fact, the building was only 20 years old and as far as Tessa knew spirits were usually hundreds of years old. Her building hadn’t even been built on the site of an ancient burial ground or older building. This building, her home and shop was the first one built in this lot. It used to be a playground until the town built a better one on the other side of town. Tessa had heard of spirits attaching themselves to people before so maybe one of the kids brought one to her. She thought of their innocent smiling faces and threw that idea out.
The next morning Tessa forgot all about the sound in her busy morning rush to get ready for work and open the shop. She had slept just fine the night before, Tessa had been afraid she would toss and turn thinking about ghosts but after extra prayers she had fallen fast asleep. Tessa entered the store and just as the door closed
“Me too what?” she asked the noise.
It was impossible to tell where it came from but it almost sound like it was coming from the yarn area. Tessa flipped on all the lights and went to look in the yarn. Nothing.
“Well whatever it is you are you want to be included.” She said out loud to the spirit.
The next two days Tessa stayed very busy at the store, it was Christmas season after all. She heard the noise once in a while but was resigned to living with a ghost. When Mr. Schumacher from the toy store heard it he caused a scene. He backed out of the door crying loudly about evil spirits taking several other panicked customers along with him. When it had quieted down, Tessa softly cursed the “eeooootooooooo” that was much louder and more frequent since the hysteria a few hours ago. That was it. She picked up the phone and started dialing.
The next day a sign hung in the craft store window “Closed due to Exorcism”. Inside was a flurry of activity. She had the exterminator there claiming that termites can make noises and trying to get her to pay 19.99 a month for bug services. She had a Shaman there claiming ancient warriors were buried there and waving around a smoldering bundle of sage. Tessa had a Medium who claimed that Tessa was cursed and needed to do something with a chicken and something else, maybe salt Tessa thought. There was the priest and the pastor both praying, the priest sprinkling holy water. The police were there checking the building for entry by bad guys and the fire dept. was checking to make sure that there was no sparking wires or hidden smoldering fires in the attic.
Tessa had had enough when the priest accidently sprinkled holy water on the burning sage the shaman held causing a fight and claims of heretic on both side. There was a fight between the exterminator and the medium about feathers and moaning termites. She kicked every one out. The police had already left saying there was no sign of forced entries or bad guys period. The fire dept. declared all was safe. Now her store smelled like sage and there was salt around every door and window. She wasn’t sure, but felt like termites wouldn’t be too much of a trouble with a brick house. She looked outside. Quite a crowd had gathered in front of the store. Tessa opened the door intending to shoo them away when
There it was again. Fairly loud this time. Loud enough that the Smith boys German shepherd d heard it. That dog took off like a flash knocking Tessa over as it zoomed into the store. Barking like a crazy dog he barked at the closed door to the basement. Before Tessa could get up, Billy Smith ran after his dog.
“What is it boy?” he asked his pet as he opened the basement door.
Tessa cried out “NO! Don’t go down there it isn’t safe!”
Tessa had ever quite gotten to the basement in the time she lived here. It was still full of equipment and junk from the previous owners who were quite the pack rats. Every time she looked in the basement she shuddered and closed the door, thinking she would do it another time. The last time she had been down there was to retrieve the washer and dryer to put upstairs in her house. They, Tessa’s father and herself, had closed up the laundry chute with a large box. That was it. Now Billy and his dog were down there. Tessa could hear the dog going crazy. She got up and went to the head of the basement stairs.
“Billy? She called down. Billy? Are you ok? Come up here right now! It’s not safe down there!”
“Hey you got to come see this!” Billy shouted.
When Tessa told him again to come up there was no answer even the dog had quieted down. After several minutes, Tessa and now Officer Mack, who had not quite left yet when Billy and dog ran into the store, both made their way down stairs. Billy was on the floor by the old laundry chute. The dog was panting next to Billy. Tessa reach the two and there, in a hole in the box, was a litter of kittens maybe a week old with a beautiful gray yet skinny momma cat. The momma cat looked at Tessa and meowed
Tessa stared to laugh. Seemed her ghost was a skinny stray cat who had way too many kittens to feed. Officer Mack also laughed. He pointed out how every time the momma cat meowed it went straight up the old laundry chute distorting the sound. He offered to bring the animals to the shelter but Tessa declined saying she would take care of them. He helped her bring them up to the house and put them into a laundry basket Tessa had put some towels into. Momma cat was grateful for a bowl of roast beef and head-butted Tessa several times before eating.
The kittens grew fast and Tessa found so much joy in coming home to a houseful of creatures that were happy to see her she couldn’t bear to part with any of them. She knew she was becoming the Crazy Cat Lady of Christmas town, but she didn’t care. They gave her so much love and she gave it back. MeToo the momma cat took a while to adjust being an indoor cat but after everyone got spayed and neutered it was easier for her to just hang out. The best part of being the Crazy Cat Lady? Officer Mack came by several days a week to see the cats and she knew it was to see her too. They enjoyed each other’s company, he enjoyed her cooking and they both enjoyed watching the kittens. Being the Crazy Cat Lady had some great perks.
Read about The Bakery