I spent most of last night lying awake in the attic room of a 3-story house in Natchez, Mississippi. It’s called Garden Song and was built in 1836, then turned into a bed and breakfast only a few years ago. I chose it as a midway stopping-point for our return from Georgia, to appease my 14-year old daughter (who loves all-things-creepy). She preferred a B&B further out of town, which resembled a crumbling, nightmare-version of Forest Gump’s home, but I talked her out of it. An overnight stop would be pointless if I couldn’t sleep, and that place surely housed God-knows how many restless spirits. I talked her into Garden Song, which was in-town and bursting with Southern charm (and even better, great reviews).
We were the only guests for the night and our proprietor was out of town, so we surprisingly had the whole place to ourselves. My girls and I made the most of it for hours, lounging in the parlor and enjoying the sodas and wine that were left out for us. One of the master bedrooms was left open, so we also helped ourselves to the designer toilet that lived there. I double-dog-dared my youngest to try some of it’s more exotic options, which resulted in her first use of profanity. (What the hel…heck, Mom?!!!)
The sun went down and the house started to feel a little larger, with darkened corners and closed doors I hadn’t noticed before. I told the girls to head to our room, which took up the majority of the 3rd floor. Teeth were brushed and jammies were donned, but our earlier bravado had vanished. The door was locked, lights were dimmed and, even though there were two beds, we all crawled into one.
My daughters fell asleep immediately, but I sat wide-eyed and restless, as if I hadn’t spent eights hours driving that day. I couldn’t stretch out or roll-over, with my kids crammed in next to me, and it reminded me of a similar time, several years before.
We were celebrating my fathers birthday in Destin, Florida and my sister brought along her two young daughters. I had just gotten The Blair Witch Project on DVD, so we sat up and watched it after everyone else went to bed. I’m not sure why we thought a six and eight-year-old were capable of handling the movie, but they flat refused to sleep alone when it was over. I didn’t want to make the dark walk to my lonely room either, so all four of us wedged into my sisters bed, and stayed there all night.
My youngest had star-fished across my legs and chest by then, so I decided to slip into the other bed our room offered. The quick stroll across the darkened space raised my pulse sufficiently though, and I decided to treat myself to a full-blown panic attack.
I crouched under the covers and imagined every horrible thing that could happen to us, in that house and on the rest of our trip. I realized I wasn’t going to sleep at all, which reminded me of another sleepless night, over twenty years ago.
My husband and I went to Roswell, New Mexico for the 50th Anniversary of “the crash”, because a huge festival was planned. We were told that the “crash-site” would be open to campers, so we wouldn’t even need a hotel room. I worked at night though, so we couldn’t make the drive to Roswell from Albuquerque until 10pm. The nighttime trek was fun as first, and we shared every ghost story we’d ever heard. The roads got smaller and the street lights fewer though, and our car grew quiet. My husband and I were sufficiently creeped out by the time we reached Roswell, and couldn’t for the life of us find the crash-site we were supposed to camp at. We decided to cave and pay for a hotel, but every room was booked. Instead, we spent the night in a Wal-Mart parking lot, my husband’s giant 6’2 frame curled around me like a mother cat in the back of his Jeep Cherokee.
I heard a knock and was jolted from my daydream, remembering the imminent danger we were in.
I flipped over and noticed a shadow under our door, as if someone was standing there. I stared at it long and hard, waiting to see if it shifted or moved in any way. Ten minutes passed with no movement, and I realized we weren’t in danger when I heard the knock again. It was the headboard hitting the wall when my daughters rolled over.
That took me back to another night, in another Bed and Breakfast, but this time in Jefferson, Texas.
I was filming a pilot for a TV show about haunted houses, which required me to spend the night in one. I was stationed in the beautiful upstairs bedroom of an old B&B, and someone’s dead Aunt was supposed to appear next to my bed around midnight. Cameras, microphones and other pieces of recording equipment were trained on me as I sat in bed and watched a Facts of Life marathon, just waiting. The producer and cameraman returned to their own room so I sat alone, and quite sure I’d see a ghost at any minute. Sometime around 2am, there was a loud knock and then a high-pitched squeal that knocked the air out of me. I think I was supposed to talk to the ghost or attempt some form of communication, but I just ran out of the room instead. I pounded on the producers’ door and they came running to see what was surely the legless ghost of Aunt Ruby.
Instead they found the VCR, which had reached the end of it’s tape and simply started to automatically rewind. We never saw any ghosts and our show was never picked up.
Suddenly, I opened my eyes and realized it was morning. Bright sunlight poured through the windows and the smell of bacon wafted up from the downstairs. My girls were already up and before long, we were dining on grits and delicious sweet-potato biscuits, courtesy of a lovely man named Kevin.
As we said goodbye to Kevin and drove away, a wave of guilt washed over me.
I had turned a perfectly wonderful night in what’s probably the nicest B&B in Natchez, Mississippi (that place didn’t even smell old) into a NIGHTMARE. And why? Maybe I started watching those John Carpenter movies too early, or got hooked on Stephen King books long before I was supposed to. Maybe this is exactly what my mother meant when she said, “Those scary stories are going to ruin you!”
It doesn’t really matter, now that I’m typing this from the safety of my own home.
I do feel that I owe the Garden Song of Natchez, Mississippi an apology though, so click HERE to get more information about it. I highly recommend Garden Song and have included a video I shot while we were there (even though I made it a little creepy towards the end). I posted that below, along with the recipe for Kevin’s Sweet Potato Biscuits, which are much better when he makes them and after a panic attack.
Thank you Garden Song! You are definitely NOT haunted!
Kevin’s Sweet Potato Biscuits
(transcribed by my daughter, Lucy)
4 cups of flour
6 tbs brown sugar
4 tbs baking powder
Half teaspoon of salt
1 tbs vanilla
Two eggs (optional)
1 cup sweet potato (mashed)
4 cups of milk (one at a time)
Mix up until thick liquid
Kneed it on floured surface.
Bake at 350 for 10 min (watch to make sure they don’t burn).