Home Encounters The Floating Woman

Photo by Frank Grace
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Witness: [Name Withheld Upon Request]
Location: Fayetteville, North Carolina
Date of Encounter: Approximately June 15, 1965

My grandmother was living at the time in a small frame house at the rear of what was then the county health center parking lot. I would stay with her when my mom was on a drunk and it was too rough at home or just to get away. The house had been divided down the center to make two rental properties; a “duplex” sharing the same wooden front porch but with two doors. The front room served for everything, with the next room being the kitchen. There was a small bath in back. My grandmother’s bed was across the front window and I was assigned the side of the bed against the front wall. A light in the parking lot shone directly in the open curtain of the window. About 1:30 AM I was shocked wide awake by my grandma’s bony wrist hitting me directly across the mouth. I woke in a panic and saw she was having a nightmare, yelling and swinging her arms wildly. Terrified, I rolled over and began shaking her right shoulder to wake her up. Watching her face to see if she was waking up, my eyes went past her to the rocker directly beside the bed. There was a woman sitting there! I didn’t just scream. I shrieked. We were alone in the house. The woman was close enough for me to lean across granny and touch her. She had shoulder length hair. Her eyes were closed and she was all white. She seemed to be wearing some sort of white night dress.

When I was screaming the woman began to rise from the chair. I thought of myself as a sensible boy, and wasn’t aware I could or would ever scream as I screamed then. The woman followed an arc toward the center of the room, which means along the side of the bed. She never moved in relation to her sitting posture (arms on the chair, eyes closed, and as she rose higher I saw her night dress was still pressed under her as if still in the chair and her feet out as if on the foot stool in front of the chair. She was so clear to me I could have counted eyelashes and could see the wrinkles at the knuckles of her hands. I continued to scream as she reached the center of the room with her head about six inches from the ceiling and began to arc downward toward the wall that was dividing the house. The street light behind me lit her perfectly as well as the furniture. I could see through her! At that realization I went up an octave and her feet began to disappear into the dividing wall. She continued as if floating into the other side of the house until the back of her head (she was reclined in the chair) disappeared into the wall. At that instant my grandmother woke up and said, “What’s the matter honey?” I tried to speak but couldn’t. I’ve never been more in shock and exhausted after a lifetime of hard work. I don’t know how, but I finally went back to sleep. The next day I earnestly tried to describe what had happened to my family. I was laughed at and told it was a dream. My swollen lips from that bony wrist didn’t seem to matter. It was important to me to be believed. I’ve never been more disappointed in my life. They’d laugh and I would be in tears. Life went back to “normal” for about two weeks.

This time my mom was staying with granny and I was relegated to a cot at the foot of the bed. I slept through this next event and only heard about it the next day. Both were reading “True Detective” or something like that and up late drinking coffee. My granny was in the kitchen making another pot of coffee when she heard crying. She went back to the front room thinking something was wrong with my mom. Nothing was wrong. Granny told her to come here and listen. Beside the fridge, in the other side of the house they could hear crying. They said it was pitiful crying of, “Oh Lord … oh Danny.”

In the other half of the house lived an older couple named Sam and Annie. If I ever knew, I now don’t know their last names. Annie worked in a cotton mill two blocks away and got off at 11 pm. Sam had been heard on the front porch leaving to walk her home as he did every night. So who was in there? They knew of no one else, but thought maybe some woman was staying with them and was in trouble. They went onto the porch and tried knocking and calling at the door, but no response. Back inside the crying was still going on with stops for “Oh Lord … oh Danny!” Their next thought was maybe it’s possible someone had too much wine and had crawled under the house. They went around the house looking under with a flashlight and could see nothing. Back inside the pitiful crying and all continued until Sam and Annie were heard stepping onto the front porch. Mom and Granny rushed out to tell then not to go in, someone was in there. They said “Nobody is in there!” as if they were crazy and went on in. Nothing more was heard.

My grandmother had paid a month’s rent ahead two days before but we had to pack her things to move. There was no doubt (she repeatedly told us) she wouldn’t spend another night in that house. Granny went to her landlord, who was a long time friend, Goldie Riddle, to see if she could get some of her rent returned. When it became clear why granny was moving, Goldie sighed and returned the rent. She also told her to go see a mutual friend of old “Betty New” and where she lived. She did just that. When Betty heard the story she sat down hard and she told the story. Years before that house had been divided, her daughter lived there and was married to a soldier. The daughter had a bad drinking problem and was at the “sick stage” after a long binge. Her husband had stayed with her but had to report back to Ft. Bragg. I guess he was out of leave, so he left his wife home that day. When he returned that evening he found her dead on the bathroom floor. It was lucky for both of them (just like me) their son Danny was with his grandmother Betty that day.

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