A few years ago a psychic visited my home. I'd told her about seeing the ghost of a woman in the main house and how my niece had seen her, too, and I was curious to see what impressions a psychic might have.
We'd visited an antebellum home together in Georgia one time and as we stood on the sidewalk in front of the Greek-revival style house, she said matter of factly, "Someone died here." We toured the Southern mansion that had been built before the Civil War and when we reached the very last room on the tour, an upstairs bedroom, a plaque on the wall told the story of how the plantation owner's wife had died in this room back in the 1850s. A shiver rippled up my spine. My psychic friend had been right on the money.
In my novel Haunted Housewives, the heroine, Cleo Tidwell, becomes friends with psychic Faye Eldritch who makes several predictions that come true. In real life, I'm friends with several psychics. Truth is stranger than fiction and real life the inspiration for much of my fiction.
I gave my friend a tour of my house, expecting her to "see" something. Nothing. No psychic impressions at all. But when we stepped into the backyard to see the servant's cottage, she stopped cold on the old brick patio and said, "I can't go in there."
Me: Why not?
Her: There's something bad in there. I'm feeling very bad energy."
So we didn't go in the cottage. The cottage does creep me out a bit, but not so much from ghosts as from the dirt, clutter, and dire need of rehabbing. The interior is more or less in its original state, although someone in the past must have decided to start restoring it and pulled most of the plaster from the walls and ceiling leaving bare lathing exposed. And then they stopped. The floors are the original unfinished wood floors. The fireplaces are the original coal-burning fireplaces. The roof has been replaced due to a tree falling on the cottage twenty years ago and we had the exterior painted when we bought the property. Someone added electricity in the past. We also replaced a broken window in the back room with a door.
The house is only two rooms with no indoor plumbing. My guess is that the servants washed up in the kitchen of the main house, and used the outhouse in the basement of the main house. Or a chamber pot. As for bathing, they must have bathed in a portable tub. A pretty rustic existence. And no furnace. Only the coal-burning fireplaces. But people used to lead much harder lives in the past.
I still don't know what exactly is in the cottage that is so bad. Perhaps a servant died there. Or maybe a baby was born stillborn. Servants didn't tend to make the newspaper in days gone by unless they killed someone.
But I'll tell you, I wouldn't want to spend the night out in that cottage. Not with the rats, and squirrels, and bats, and spiders. Or the nameless bad thing that the psychic felt.