When I was about eight years old, we moved across town to a different neighborhood. I didn’t know anyone and spent the first few weeks playing by myself. I rarely ventured away from the front porch but one day I walked down the street.
The neighborhood was made up of mainly Victorian style houses, all two story wood framed houses most of which were painted white and had extensive gingerbread trim. They all had huge wrap around front porches and the street was lined with ancient oak trees. It was a very pretty street and most of the houses were very nice. Some of the houses like the one we lived in was so large that it had been divided into apartments. One house on the street, however, was very dark looking. It needed painting and it looked like no one lived there. I stopped in front of the house and looked at it through the picket fence wondering why someone would leave a house to deteriorate like that.
About that time, I heard a soft voice, “Hello, come here. I’m so glad that you came to play.” I looked up and saw a girl about my age with the prettiest golden blonde hair I had ever seen. It was in long curls and tied with a blue ribbon that matched the dress that she was wearing.
I thought to myself, “She must be going to a party; she’s dressed up so pretty.” I wasn’t one for dresses but even I had to admit that the dress was beautiful. It was blue and long with a white pettifore over it. I had never seen anyone dressed like that but she did look lovely.
I opened the gate and walked over to the side porch where she sat and said, “Hey, why are you dressed up so in the middle of the day? Are you going to a party?”
She laughed and said, “Of course not. This is my day clothes. You’re funny. What’s your name? My name’s Rebecca.” I told her my name was Mary and I had just moved in down the street.
She clapped her hands and said, “I’m so happy that you are here. I’ve been so lonely and no one has come to play in such a long time. Come inside and we’ll go up to my room to play. I have lots of dolls and a beautiful tea set and we can have tea.”
“Won’t your parents mind if I come in,” I asked. But she was already running up the service stairs to the upper floor and calling for me to follow which of course, I did.
She certainly had not exaggerated about her doll collection and her beautiful china tea set. Her room was right out of a fairy tale and fit for a princess. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was thinking about my room at home which was so tiny and had only a bed and a dresser and a small stool. But I knew my mother had worked hard to provide that so I felt guilty even comparing it to Rebecca’s princess room. She was the most unusual girl I had ever met but she was so sweet and so happy to have me there that I forgot about everything else. We played for hours and I realized that I had to go home. I knew that my brother would be looking for me. He was supposed to keep up with me while my mother was at work.
When I told Rebecca that I had to leave, she begged me to stay and play longer and promised me that she would give me one of her dolls if I would. “You can’t leave now; we have to feed the dolls their lunch and then put them down for naps, “she cried.
I promised her that I would come back the next morning. Finally, she accepted that I had to leave and walked me back down to the French doors leading out onto the porch. She watched as I left and I saw that she had tears running down her face. I felt terrible but I knew that I would be in big trouble if I didn’t get home.
My mother was happy that I had made a friend and told me to behave myself and asked if I had thanked her mother for letting me come to play. That’s when I realized that I didn’t see anyone else while I was there, only Rebecca. I told my mother that I would thank Rebecca’s mother the next day when I went to visit.
The next morning after I had done my chores, I headed off down the street. As I approached Rebecca’s house I thought again how scary it seemed from the outside. Inside it was beautiful and so elegant. I had never seen a home so lovely. It looked like something from a different time. Rebecca was looking out the French door just as I had left her the day before. She jumped up and down and squealed in delight as I walked up the steps to the porch. She called out, “I thought you would never get here. I’ve been waiting for hours for you.” She had on a dress that was identical to the one from the day before and looked so beautiful that I wanted to cry.
I followed her up the stairs just as I had done the day before and we laughed and played again for hours. “I have not had so much fun in such a long time,” she said. “You must stay with me forever. Here, I want to give you one of my dolls to have for your very own.” Later, when I told her that I had to leave she started to cry again and I promised that I would be back later in the afternoon. She insisted that I take one of the dolls home with me.
“Oh, I almost forgot, I need to thank your mother for letting me come to play,” I said. Rebecca looked at me rather strangely and told me her mother had gone out for the afternoon.
It was starting to rain so I rushed out and ran all the way home. I put the doll in my room and went into the kitchen to help my brother start dinner. I told him about the little girl and when I told him where she lived, he said, “You must be mistaken. No one lives in that house. The guys said that it’s been vacant for years and it’s haunted.” I got mad and told him he was just jealous because I had a new friend and she wanted me to visit every day. My brother assured me that he was not kidding and then I started to worry.
Later when I went into my room I spotted the doll lying on my bed and I took it and ran back into the kitchen to show my brother. “If she doesn’t exist, how could she give this to me?” I asked holding the doll up for him to see. He had no answers for that but I could see that he wasn’t convinced.
After dinner, it was still light out and my mother was busy so I slipped out and ran down the street to Rebecca’s. The house was completely dark and I thought she must not be home so I walked back to my house. I figured I would get things straighten out the next day. I would have her come home with me to show my brother that he and his friends were wrong. The next morning, I went down to Rebecca’s but as I approached the house, I saw an old woman getting into a car. She looked at me and asked what I wanted. I told her that I had come to play with Rebecca and she got really angry. She called me a mean little girl and asked how I could be so cruel to make fun of an old woman. “You know that my daughter Rebecca died fifty years ago,” she yelled at me. I started to cry and ran home.
I went into my room and cried for hours. Later I told my brother and he just looked at me. I think that he thought I had gone crazy for sure. I went down to the house every day for a week and never saw Rebecca again. I put the doll away and eventually forgot about it.
After we moved away, I heard that the house sold and the old lady that had told me that she was Rebecca’s mother had died. No one stayed in the house for long and eventually, it sat vacant again. Several years ago when I went home to visit, I decided to visit that old neighborhood because I had heard the homes on the street were starting to be renovated and the street was getting popular again. I parked my car and walked from the house where I had lived down towards Rebecca’s house and was surprised to see a little girl sitting on the front steps. The house still looked vacant and had a FOR SALE sign in the front yard. I walked over and said, “Hi, do you live here?”
“No, I’m waiting for Rebecca, “she said.