Let me begin the story with a little history, and mind you everything I’m detailing today is one hundred percent true.
My Great Grandmother came to America from Cornwall, a city on the very southern tip of England in the early 1910s, and settled in Rural Arkansas. This where she finished out her teen years and married her husband, a semi wealthy proprietor of a local brewery. It’s not in existence now, but back then everyone knew of Clack’s Brew from Camden Arkansas.
Together they had three children. The oldest being my Great Aunt Agatha, followed by my Great Aunt Belle, and finally the youngest, my Grand Father Iva, whom they playfully nicknamed Buddy.
Agatha was older than her other two siblings by what I’m guessing was fifteen years. I’m told that Agatha greatly resented this because she felt obligated to help raise her brother and sister, meaning she didn’t get a chance to marry until she was in her mid or late twenties. Which for that day and age was rather uncommon.
After my Great Grandfather had died, father young I might add, My Great Grand Mother, Belle, and Grandfather Iva moved to the city of Mobile Alabama. My Great Aunt Agatha opting to stay behind and living in the house she was born in.
Now, as far back as I can personally remember, every Christmas, and Summer, we’d make the trek up to Camden to visit Aunt Agatha in the old house.
My Aunt and Grand father called it “the old home place” Which was basically all I knew it as. I remember all of the really nice antiques all over this old two story farm house. Cast iron pots and skillets, old china dolls, Victorian plates, old clothing irons that you had to heat up on the stove in order to use. No to mention the creepiest closet in the cellar.
I found it all very historic and lovely. Over the years I noticed that Aunt Agatha loved alone. No husband, or children. Not even a cat or anything to keep her company. The more I thought about it, the whole thing became rather unnerving, so I did the best to put it out of my mind.
One summer while we were visiting I asked her. “Auntie, why did you never marry? “ She went silent for a while, poured me a glass of lemonade and sad. “I had a husband once. But he left. I guess I wasn’t enough for him.” She looked really sad at this point, and I apologized for my rudeness. Later that summer she began to act strange.
My Aunt Belle and Grand father started to talk about how her mind was starting to go. Come Christmas the Alzheimers was all too obvious. She would pace back and fourth in the hallway connected to the cellar and ramble about “The baby, what about the baby? Crying the baby’s crying. The closet! The closet…” .
I woke up one night to the bathroom and I saw her in the hallway with a knife, staring me down with these cold dead eyes. I froze dead in my tracks and nearly pissed myself as she came at me with the knife, letting out this otherworldly hiss. I ran screaming to my grandfather who took care of it. I’m not sure how exactly. Soon my aunt Belle moved in to help take care of Agatha, and within a few years she passed away. We stayed at the Old Home Place while we attended her funeral. I remembered thinking how spooky her house was now. She’d scratched things into the wall and there were shit stains from where she’d thrown her own mess at Aunt Belle and the nurses on occasion. After the funeral we all went back to Mobile, and not much was spoken of Aunt Agatha.
I some times brought up us all just moving to the Old Home place because hey, free house, right? But no, neither my Great Grand Mother or anyone else wanted to deal with the mess of it all. When I was eighteen Great Grand mother passed away and we buried her next to her late husband in Camden. Of course we stayed in the Old Home Place once again, this time for a whole week after the funeral. My Aunt Belle had decided that they’d best clean it up and make it some what livable, and maybe rent it out.
During the stay I was tasked with cleaning the thick later of dust off of everything. Yeah, not a super fun job to say the least, but I got to keep a few of the trinkets I liked, so it wasn’t all bad.
As I turned down the hallway I noticed the cellar door and almost without thinking I went to try and open it. I’d never been down there in all the Christmas and summers that I’d spent there and was suddenly very curious. However I found myself disappointed to find the door locked. I never thought I’d find a key in a house this big.
So I forgot about it, until a few days later while my Mom, Grandfather and Aunt were out grabbing lunch. If you don’t know Arkansas has a few restaurants that are really great and this one place called Burger Meister, had a bacon cheeseburger to die for.
While they were out, I was picking through drawers in the kitchen and packing silverware and plates away, and almost threw a old iron key into one of the boxes. Then it hit me that this might be the key to the cellar. I immediately got up and went to go try the key in the old door and turned. My heart jumped as the locked clicked an with a gentle push, the door slid open.
The hinges let out a horror movie like creak and I almost chickened out. “Naw, you’re eighteen, there’s nothing down there that can hurt you. “ I thought to myself as I fumbled for a light on either side of the door. Finally I found a pull chain in the darkness and a dim hanging bulb lit the small cellar. It was about the size of a walk in closet, and filled with boxes and stacks of news papers from long before I was born.
I almost turned around until something caught my eye, a closet on the far left side of the room. I felt compelled to walk over and open it, and when I did I was almost knocked back by the all of dust, smell of mold and must that filled the little closet.
I looked in the dark closet and saw what appeared to be a old hand bag, leather with a old brass or rather brassy colored metal holding it shut. I knelt down and picked I up. The bag had some weight to it so I brought it into the light of the main cellar and opened it. Inside was a lot of silk scarves. Moldy nasty looking ones. Out of curiosity I began to unravel them and then I saw it. Two black eye sockets of a tiny skull looking back at me.
I dropped the bag and ran up the steps, both dizzy from shock and disgust, I lost it and puked in the hallway. I went outside to wait for my family to return to tell them what I found.
My family surmised that after Great Aunt Agatha’s husband left her, she discovered that she was pregnant, and either miscarried or worse, had the baby and then killed it to spare herself the trouble or heart break of raising the child of a man who’d abandoned her and that she “baby” Agatha had been ranting about when she began to lose her mind, was this one hidden away for decades.
My Grandfather said after a few hours “I’ll take care of this” and together he and Aunt Belle took the hand bag containing the tiny skeleton and left. They were gone all night and the next morning when I asked what they’d done with the baby, they said “It’s taken care of”. To this day I still don’t know what they did with it. Either they dropped it off on the police station steps or took it off into the vast wooded ares of Arkansas and buried it.. I know nothing was ever reported, or ever came of it. Protecting the family name was more important than a proper burial of a nameless baby, I’ll never know, and they both took the secret to the grave with them.