Nanny’s Campfire Story

Once when I was young, my grandma, who I called Nanny, told my friends a creepy story one dark July night. It was a story she said her neighbor, and one of my friend’s moms, had told her and she claimed it to be true. Real quick, to give you an idea of how close this neighborhood was in my childhood I’ll give a brief layout. My dad’s parents lived in a dumbbell shaped cul-de-sac in my extremely tiny hometown. All the houses are set up a few feet apart lining the entire road and we all greeted each other by name. It was that kind of town. There were no strangers in my Kentucky place of birth growing up which is why this tale was, and still is, so chilling.

I was 7 or 8 back in the mid nineties and part of the last few generations to remember a time before home computers and cell phones were a staple. Swimming, biking, and telling scary stories on my Nanny’s front porch under the eerie glow of an orange street lamp was some of our favorite things to do when I visited. This was one I never forgot. After begging her to tell us another, Nanny obliged lighting up a cigarette. She exhaled and said: Rosie told me something weird the other day. She told me she was up late one night watching TV in the living room when she heard a knock at the door. It was about midnight or somewhere in there, so she went to the door thinking one of us might be in trouble.

Just for reference, most of these houses had French doors with decorative glass panes you could semi-see out of and another glass or screen door on the outside. Back to the story.:

Rosie said when she came to the door, she was surprised to see someone she didn’t recognize waiting on the other side and cautiously opened the front door leaving the screen door locked. She described the caller as a young, petite woman with pale skin and long, black hair that covered her face. The woman was standing on her front step bare foot, in a white gown, her head bowed so her hair covered her entire face, and her hands clasped at her stomach with upturned palms. (Picture a child being scolded and standing in shame. I personally imagine a taller Sumara from The Ring.)

Then, my Nanny demonstrated the posture which made the story all the more chilling.
We were all silent at this point waiting nervously for her to continue as she paused to take a drag from her cancer stick. She picked back up saying: Rosie said she opened the door and asked the girl if she needed help to which the girl only replied in a flat, emotionless voice, “May I come in and use your phone?” To Rosie, there were several things wrong with this picture. First, the stranger wanted access to her home with no explanation other than to use her phone. The girl seemingly came out of nowhere, she was in a nightgown alone in the late hours of night, and she said “may I” instead of “can I”. We lived in the South on the border of Tennessee; you didn’t say “may I”.

Rosie was NOT about to let this woman into her house, but she didn’t want to leave her alone in case she really did need help. So, she tried to learn more about her situation by asking questions like “What’s wrong? Are you lost or hurt?” But, the girl only answered in the same flat tone, “I need to come into your house. Please let me use your phone.” Never once did the stranger look up or offer to move in any way.

Again, she asked, “Do you need to call a ride? Or the police?” but she was met with the same response of, “No. I need to come inside your house.” Finally, Rosie told her she can’t come in but she could hand her the house phone to call someone. Now, my Nanny’s friend had a table against the wall wherr her phone sat, so all she had to do was turn around for a split second. However, when she turned back to the door the girl was gone. She had vanished as if she had never been there at all. Nanny said Rosie checked outside and found no one. There was nowhere for someone to go! The cul-de-sac had one road in and out on the other side, it was surrounded by sparse woods on Rosie’s side and thick woods on Nanny’s side, and a short drop-off with a little creek to the right ending the neighborhood. In other words, she would have heard even bare feet running no matter which direction she went.

As Nanny put out her smoke, we girls, three in total, asked if it was true and she shrugged saying she didn’t see a reason her friend would lie about it. My grandma was the kind to pull your leg every now and then but she always admitted to it since lying wasn’t in her Christian nature. She never once admitted to this one being a tall tale. That night, we had a sleepover in her living room and I watched that damn door all night waiting for a strange black haired girl to knock. It never happened, of course, yet I’ve often wondered who or WHAT she was and what she really wanted. Was she a ghost, a demon, a vampire, a black-eyed person, a skinwalker, or a real person with bad intentions? One thing’s for sure. To this day, I wait for the night she knocks on my door – real or not.