Encounter

An old friend asked me recently to recount the most supernatural (or closest to supernatural) thing I’ve experienced first-hand.

Circa 1979-80 (must have been late junior high or early high school), coming home with my brother and a few friends from a midnight movie at the old Jenifer Cinema (some Pink Floyd flick I vaguely recall). Ok, slightly stoned, it was that period.

Around 2am, walking along a quiet residential street a few blocks from my house, we saw a woman with stringy hair and what looked like a tattered nightgown walking slowly a block ahead of us. Not walking a dog or anything. She was carrying something that looked like maybe a grocery bag, but in front of her with two hands like you’d carry a watermelon.

As the group of us got closer (and quieter), she looked at us for a moment, turned, and without saying a word took several quick strides toward a house and threw what whatever it was she was carrying through the front window. This was just as we were passing, our eyes wide, mouths open. She turned and stared at us, just standing there in the yard, her face shadowed. One friend (or maybe it was me) was quick to say ‘it’s ok, don’t worry lady, we won’t tell anyone’ and someone else (maybe me) saying 'don’t put a curse (spell?) on us’. My brother and another friend were already a full block away in a full-out sprint. Some other friend - who knew the family in the house - started up with something like 'the hell it’s ok, what the hell are you doing lady??’.

That was enough for me, I took off. I was convinced we had seen a witch perform some kind of ritual and I would suffer for my witnessing. At home I lay awake fully expecting the woman-thing to materialize at my bedroom window, tapping on the glass. My brother and I actually woke my parents and told them about it, we were terrified. Of course the first question was 'you been smoking something?’.

We also knew the family that lived there so in the morning my parents called over. Sure enough, they said they were startled awake by the rock crashing into their living room. They said it was a mentally disturbed woman - the mother of one of our schoolmates it turned out - who, a year or so earlier, had dug up the same family’s garden in the middle of the night.

Ok, sounds reasonable, if still unsettling. But that day some of us walked by the house again and… well, we couldn’t see any broken window. It was Sunday, there was no way it had been fixed already. I guess it’s possible that only one pane was actually broken and we just couldn’t tell from the street. But to this day I don’t know what to think about it.