The Lost Life of Mirriam Barilow

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The Lost Life of Mirriam Barilow

Postby creepyhollows » Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:12 am

The home of Mr. & Mrs. *** stood regally at three stories. The white paint faded to an ivory and the gables in the front lawn leave more to the imagination than the eye but its presence as a historical edifice shone through. Upon entering the tree-shadowed drive I was immediately swept away in thoughts of perspiring, Southern belles perched beguilingly on the porch fanning themselves with hand-painted scenes of the Orient or a floral bouquet. I could see gentleman playing croquet on a neatly trimmed lawn and the gloved applause wafting gently from the ladies. However, the shell of those daydreams is what remains, a great estate in disrepair offering little more than its bony arms to two weary travelers come to search her ghosts.

The large, stone birdbath in the front lawn was stained by the dried waters it once housed and the birds nested in the Willow tree a few feet away seemed to beg its renewal as we passed. The grass beneath us was as parched as the concrete birdbath and I watched the staircase to the porch loom as we neared it. On each step was a piece bedraggled garden statuary whose luster had long since tarnished. It was difficult not to love the house and its grounds, they had the distinct allure only a home greatly loved for years can bear. Beneath its warped, wooden planks and fading paint it seemed to guard a secret only willing to share if one found the key.

The front door was once painted a bright red, now a close call for maroon. There was no doorbell, only a lion's head with a brass ring. I lifted the ring, which alone weighed a pound at least, and let it fall to the snarled lion's mouth below. I repeated the antiquated knock a few times before Mrs. *** answered the door. She was neatly wrapped in a blue house dress with her grey/brown bun spun tightly at the back of her head. Droplets of pearls hung from her lobes and a small ruby pendant on a frail chain clung to her slender neck. She was no taller than five feet and had warm, blue eyes that spoke of oatmeal cookies and quilting. I didn't know why but I felt the need to speak no louder than a murmur and introduced myself and my husband. With all the grace you'd expect from a true Southern belle she promptly invited us in and offered us a glass of sweet tea.

Tea glasses in hand we followed Mrs. *** to a handsomely decorated parlor with overstuffed red velvet chairs. Once everyone was seated she told us of the home's beginnings and its current links to the past. The home was built as part of the family's plantation and replaced a log cabin that boasted 4 rooms that was originally in its stead. The plantation had 7 bedrooms, a kitchen, breakfast room, sun room, living room, formal living room, formal dining room, study, library and a basement that matched the size of the first floor. It had 2 bathrooms that were originally closets and were converted after the craze of indoor plumbing. There were no showers, only tubs, toilets and sinks in each. It was quite apparent to us the wallpaper, wood floors and tapestries were all original as the paper was frequently stained with the telltale brown spots and the floors were as dark and lackluster as any floor would be with more than 100 years of footsteps on them.

She spoke of the spirits of the house; her great-grandfather, her great-grandmother, her great uncle, two soldiers who had died nearby in the Civil War (not during battle), and one particular spirit she knew little of as she had no family ties, and she knew the name of this ghost was Mirriam Barilow. I found it curious she should know her proper name and asked how she came to know the identity of a ghost not tied to her family.

She said in younger days, before arthritis set into the joints of her once dexterous fingers, she was an avid gardener and enjoyed bringing in the brightly hued delphiniums, orchids and tulips from her flowerbed to liven the atmosphere of the kitchen and foyer. In the foyer she frequently found the flower vase askew and the flowers within rearranged. At first, like most ghost keepers, she thought her husband was toying with the flowers and after finding the vase awry a few more times she asked her husband about his need to correct her and he claimed no part of the flower feud. A bit sketchy at the sincerity of his proclamation she arranged the flowers as usual but this time used a piece of thin wire to bind the arrangement together. She left for a day at the market and when she returned the blooms of the flowers were snapped off at the base. Completely unnerved by the site of the decapitated flowers she fled her own home for the safety of her husband's office.

Over the next few months stranger things began to manifest in the *** household. She clearly smelt the odor of tangerine in the doorway of the formal living room. Her flower sink often had freezing cold patches despite summer temperatures in the 90s. Her mother's rocking chair in one of the spare bedrooms often rocked without provocation. And most telling where the apparitions of the young woman; sometimes in her Sunday clothes with a luminous hat of white gauze and sometimes in a purple polka-dotted blue day dress with a gold brooch and shined patent shoes.

She saw her first in the second story window neatly standing as though she were expecting Mrs. *** to come home. Mrs. *** remarked her eyes bulged to the size of saucers and she dared not go inside without her husband present so she stayed the rest of the afternoon at the neighbors. The second time Mirriam gave Mrs. *** little opportunity to disappear as Mirriam appeared to her while she was bathing in the upstairs tub. Mrs. *** said she had her eyes closed and was enjoying a cool bath on a blistering summer day and when she opened her eyes there stood Mirriam at the end of tub with a slight smile. She was so frightened by Mirriam she fell from the tub and raced from the bathroom without even the notion she was naked and wet.

She recalled though that on all occasions Mirriam appeared kind, gentle and meaning no harm. It took several more appearances by Mirriam before Mrs. *** was comfortable enough to withstand the shock of her transparent visitor. The only occurrence Mrs. *** could tie to the sudden appearance of Mirriam was the fire of a home three houses down. It seemed to her that Mirriam began to appear just about that time and perhaps the house fire drove her to seek shelter elsewhere. I asked her to describe Mirriam to the best of her ability because sometimes you never know, you might come across an old news article or photograph preserved by the local historic society.

She said Mirriam had brown hair, dark brown, and it was usually pulled up in a loose bun. She had blue-green eyes that were large and soft. She had freckles under her eyes and a few across the bridge of her nose. She was around five foot four with her shoes on and had a meek demeanor that made you want to embrace her.

Mrs. *** had barely finished describing her and I, too, felt like Mirriam was an old friend. Having turned out to be a gentle and feminine ghost my husband accompanied Mr. *** to the study to revel at antique handguns and stories of duels and death while I followed Mrs. *** up the stairs to Mirriam's favorite haunt, the guest room with yellow wallpaper.

The room was picturesque with yellow floral wallpaper and a full-sized bed covered in a tightly woven white knit. There was a vase of flowers on the whitewashed dresser and an antique, composite doll in a black baby buggy in the corner. The room spoke volumes of stories without ever saying a word and I felt as though I had pantaloons and a ladies corset on just to enter the room. It was a room for days gone by and I quickly saw what Mirriam must have found in its gentle charms.

Mrs. *** produced a record player from one of the bureau drawers and on it played a lady, French singer from the turn of the century. Her raspy voice was the touch missing and the room bellowed 1910s immediately. I watched from the window as birds swept the dried up birdbath parched from the suns undiscriminating rays. I felt sorry they should seek replenishment from the heat where there was no offering to give. I was about to ask her if she wanted us to fill it on our way out when I felt a tremendously warm breeze come into the room and its beauty gave me pause. It was such a tender dance over my skin I held my breath and worried to turn my head to see the source should it disappear and take its lovely romance with it. Slowly I gave into curiosity and turned my head to see nothing but Mrs. *** face luminous with joy, "she's here" Mrs. *** pointed in the corner by the bedside but I did not see the ravishing Mirriam, only a vacant space. I little doubted Mirriam's presence though as Mrs. *** face glowed and I had never felt more peace and warm love in my life.

Mrs. *** told me it was in this very room she first learned Mirriam's name. She was napping on the bed when she woke to the sensation of her hair being stroked. She lifted her head slightly and asked who was there and the voice said "it's me, Mirriam, Mirriam Barilow." Since that time she only called her Mirriam but she could never erase their first introduction from her mind.

We spent a spellbinding 20 minutes in the yellow room until we both felt Mirriam leave. Mirriam brought a sunshine unlike any that can be produced on earth; it was a spiritual sunshine that true dreams are made of. It was the kind of sunshine meant for perfect days, swimming in a crystal blue ocean and lazy naps in the hammock. It was a time when you can only speak the joys of life and uttering even your most ludicrous dream makes it seem possible. I saw the treasure Mrs. *** had in her home with Mirriam and I did not want to leave.

We spent the last hour of our time in their home hearing the stories of the ghosts of the *** family. Though their stories were entertaining they ne'er reached the level of magic and simple beauty of Mirriam and I felt as though I had lost a friend when our car pulled out of their driveway. My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach and I felt like I had lost something remarkable. I desperately watched all the windows of their home as the car reversed down the drive and not once did I see Mirriam's sweet face but I felt her and it gave me peace. It was a day not just for the living and Mirriam's courage transcended all boundaries giving hope to two women all these years later.


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Re: The Lost Life of Mirriam Barilow

Postby creepyhollows » Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:31 pm

::bump:: For the lady looking for our investigations on here.


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Re: The Lost Life of Mirriam Barilow

Postby Huffette » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:09 am

That was such a lovely story.


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Re: The Lost Life of Mirriam Barilow

Postby Wenona » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:50 am

What a wonderful story


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Re: The Lost Life of Mirriam Barilow

Postby Ravenskye » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:58 am

I really enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing it!1 :D


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Re: The Lost Life of Mirriam Barilow

Postby Bunni » Tue Nov 26, 2013 5:17 am

creepyhollows wrote:We spent a spellbinding 20 minutes in the yellow room until we both felt Mirriam leave. Mirriam brought a sunshine unlike any that can be produced on earth; it was a spiritual sunshine that true dreams are made of. It was the kind of sunshine meant for perfect days, swimming in a crystal blue ocean and lazy naps in the hammock. It was a time when you can only speak the joys of life and uttering even your most ludicrous dream makes it seem possible. I saw the treasure Mrs. *** had in her home with Mirriam and I did not want to leave.

We spent the last hour of our time in their home hearing the stories of the ghosts of the *** family. Though their stories were entertaining they ne'er reached the level of magic and simple beauty of Mirriam and I felt as though I had lost a friend when our car pulled out of their driveway. My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach and I felt like I had lost something remarkable. I desperately watched all the windows of their home as the car reversed down the drive and not once did I see Mirriam's sweet face but I felt her and it gave me peace. It was a day not just for the living and Mirriam's courage transcended all boundaries giving hope to two women all these years later.


:heart: love this.


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Re: The Lost Life of Mirriam Barilow

Postby Funkychicken » Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:20 am

Wonderful :)


Chicken Noodle Soup with a soda on the side


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