Is That You, Mrs. Schwartz? by
100
(153 Stories)

Prompted By The Twilight Zone

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We live in a large, one story, L-shaped house. Though 70 years old, we are only the third owners. It is a contemporary, and was built as a retirement home by “Mom” and “Pop” Schwartz, who made their fortune in corrugated boxes. It sits on a corner lot, one block west of Boston College.

The lay-out was to their specifications, with his and her master bedrooms a few steps up the hallway, master bath in between, a guest bedroom down the corridor with a bathroom that also functions as the public bathroom. The front door opens to a large open foyer. On the left, a few steps down is a large living room,  across from that is a den (since a major renovation, the den now functions as a sitting room, and the new den is at the back of the foyer, renovated from a former porch). The dining room is behind the former den, across from the living room. Behind the dining room, at the corner of the L is the kitchen and breakfast room, and a side entrance into the house. Along the side of the house, above the garage, is a suite of rooms; bedroom, bathroom, sitting room and several large closets. Those were maids rooms in the original design. I use them as a permanent guest room and my study.

My children were quite young at the time of this story. We used Mr. Schwartz’s bedroom as our master bedroom. Four-year-old David was in Mrs. Schwartz’s room. The original guest room, a few steps down the hallway, was the nursery for infant Jeffrey. My husband traveled a lot and I was home alone with these young children.

At nursery school, David made a full-size drawing of himself. He laid down and the teachers out-lined his form, which he colored in. It was on a large piece of paper and we taped it to his bedroom wall. You can barely see it on the wall behind little David (with his uncle, Gerry Pfau), in the Featured photo. At the time of this story, we had moved the drawing to the wall at the head of the bed. The masking tape often didn’t stick well.

One night, while home alone, after the kids were in bed, I sat, writing in my study, at the opposite end of the house from the childrens’ rooms. I did not plan to be there long, so did not have the nursery monitor with me. Suddenly, I heard a high-pitched voice say, quite distinctly, “Help me, help me”. I jumped up and ran to check on my children, both too far away for me to have heard them, even if they had been screaming. Of course, Jeffrey couldn’t even speak at this point in his life, but first I checked on him. He was fast asleep.

Then I checked on David. He lay, cowering in his bed in the dark. The drawing had fallen off the wall and covered him completely. To this day, he swears he said nothing, though he was shaking like a leaf. Even if he had, I couldn’t have heard him from my study at the other end of the house, but that voice had drawn me out to check on him and come to his rescue. I pulled the sheet of paper off him and comforted him until he slept again.

I thought long and hard about whose voice I heard. I distinctly heard it call out to me. I came to believe it was the benevolent spirit of Mrs. Schwartz, looking out for my children, who warned me that night that David needed me. I never heard her again, but I always thought after that night, that she looked out for my children.

Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.


Tags: high-pitched voice, fallen picture, frightened child
Characterizations: right on!

Comments

  1. John Shutkin says:

    Terrific story, Betsy. You built it up so nicely by first describing the house, thus making clear later on how unlikely it would be that a small boy’s voice could have been heard by you at the other end of the house. And having a life size drawing falling entirely on top of your son is exactly the sort of stuff of small children’s nightmares. (I remember being convinced that Brer Bear was jumping against my bedroom window the night after seeing “Song of the South” (the Uncle Remus Tales movie.))
    As well as the great build up — I could really imagine a Twilight Zone episode unfolding, from the mundane to the unexplainable — I loved the fact that you ultimately resolved the matter by embracing a supernatural explanation. And delighted that it was a benevolent, protective spirit at that. Other than Casper, ghosts too often get a bad rap. What a lovely ending!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thank you, John. Yes, children can be frightened by all sorts of things (the lepers in “Ben Hur” gave me nightmares for weeks; watching the movie as an adult I realize that you don’t see anything – it is the unknown that is frightening). I know I heard that voice; maybe it was in my head, but something caused me to jump up and check on David who WAS scared out of his wits. So I’m just grateful that the voice called out, whomever or whatever it was, and helped my child that day. And yes, it was a friendly spirit!

  2. John Zussman says:

    The eerie theme from Twilight Zone flew into my brain unbidden as I read the end of this story! I love that you still have a photo showing David’s picture. A classic story and perfect for this prompt.

  3. Suzy says:

    Loved this story, Betsy. I think you were right to choose this story to tell. And I can totally believe that it was Mrs. Schwartz you heard, calling you to go check on David.
    I remember those life-size silhouettes the kids all made in preschool or kindergarten, where the teacher traced their body on a piece of butcher paper. How great that you managed to find a photo that shows at least part of his picture.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Glad you believed me, Suzy. Too many skeptics out there. I guess making those life-sized drawings was universal, no matter where you grew up. I was actually looking for a photo just to demonstrate David’s room and stumbled on one that had the drawing in it. Dumb luck!

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