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The Ghost of Kohler Lane

Nicole Wilson

     The black iron gate with Kohler Lane designed on the entrance was left swung open. Up ahead, a Victorian family home that had been standing for two generations stood proudly. White glimmered off the house from the heat of the bright sun. Columns stood tall along the front side of Kohler Lane that supported a roof, which covered the front porch to stop the sun from over powering the sitting area. On the second story there was a balcony with smaller columns for fitting the same purpose. The humid sticky air in Zimmerman, Georgia on October 10, 1872 was almost intolerable for Clara Kohler as she swung back and forth on the swing hanging from her favorite oak tree in her front yard.
     How much longer was she going to have to wait? She thought to herself as she brushed her chestnut curls from her heart shaped face.
     "Clara," a deep whisper came from behind her.
     Clara jumped out of her swing with her sky blue dress flowing through the air around her womanly body. With a twinkle of love in her dark eyes, she looked at the man that meant everything to her. "William," she answered him.
     He stood tall and muscular as he held out his large hand, a hand of a workingman. Clara placed her gloved hand in his as the two walked up the marble steps of Kohler Lane and sat down in wooden chairs on the front porch. "Is your father home," William asked with concern in his blue eyes.
     "Father is in his study. We can talk for awhile."
     "Let's go somewhere else. He will be angry if he finds us."
     "Oh, never mind father. William, let's run away. Let's get married."
     "Listen to me, Clara. We can't do that. Not only will your father never allow us to marry, I'm also poor. I can't take you from what you already have and expect you to live in a shack."
     "I don't care where I live as long as it's with you."
     "You may say that now but I know you would change your mind if you had to use those hands of yours."
     "What's wrong with my hands," Clara asked taking off her white-laced glove, "I thought you loved my hands."
     "I do, but look at them. They have never seen a days worth of work." 
     "Clara. Clara. Where are you child? Clara," a voice called from within Kohler Lane.
     "It's Father. Hide. Do something," Clara demanded William but it was too late. Her father was coming out the door onto the front porch. "Father."
     "What are you doing here? I thought I told you to stay away from my daughter! Be gone with you. Clara, I want you inside now," the older man said with anger marked clearly by his lifted bushy eyebrows. 
     "But Father," Clara started to protest.
     "Now! Meet me in my study."
     Clara began to make her way into the house and up the stairs to her father's den. Mr. Kohler remained behind for a moment scanning his property for William. Sure that he was gone, he also went up to the study. William had not left yet. He remained hiding behind Clara's oak tree and decided to remain until the house was dark for the night in case Clara came looking for him.
     "What was he doing here? I thought I told you he was not welcome at our home," the heavyset grayed haired man yelled at his daughter.
     "Father, I love William," Clara replied scared for what her father was going to say or even do.
     "You what? You don't love him. He is below you. He is a nobody!" Clara's father's voice echoed through the whole house.
     "We are going to be married."
     "No you're not," He shouted even louder.
     "Yes, I will. You'll see. William and I will get married. I'll do anything to have him."
     "You spoiled child. I didn't raise you to betray me." Clara glared at her father with rage and ran out of the study. "And where do you think you're going young lady? I demand you get back in here."
     "I will marry him father, and I don't care what you say," Clara yelled back at her father as she made her way down the stairs. 
     From outside, William could hear the shouts being thrown from Clara and her father. He made his way up the marble stairs and onto the porch just in time to see Clara fall. She was running down the staircase in the house as her boot slipped towards the middle of the staircase and she tumbled down to the bottom with an ear-piercing scream.
     ***
     The road was bumpy as children bounced in their green vinyl seats in the big yellow school bus with Zimmerman Community School District written in black bold letters across both sides. Mary Kate was unfamiliar with the sights that the old bus passed on an early hot October afternoon. She had lived in Zimmerman her whole thirteen years of her life, but she had never seen this side of the small town, even though she had heard some stories about the old homes that occupied the area.
     "We are almost to my house. Just a couple more stops and we will be there," said Sara, a tall, skinny blue-eyed, blond-haired thirteen-year-old girl who had just moved to the area. Mary Kate and Sara had met on Sara's first day at Zimmerman Junior High and the two girls had become friends instantly. Sara had invited Mary Kate to stay the night at her new house and was excited to get to know her new friend even better.
     "I can't wait. We are going to have so much fun," said Mary Kate, an average height teenager with red curly hair and green eyes.
     "Hey, are you the new girl that lives next to Kohler Lane?" a skinny boy with glasses asked Sara.
     "Well, I think so. If that's the old Victorian house with the black gate surrounding a lawn that hasn't been taken care of for ages?" Sara responded. 
     "Yap, that's the one I was talking about," said the boy.
     "Sara, you live next to Kohler Lane?" Mary Kate could not believe her ears. At that moment the bus stopped in front of Sara's house and the two girls walked down the narrow aisle and out the door into the driveway.
     Stopping and waiting for the bus to continue on its way, Sara turned toward Kohler Lane and asked puzzled, "Mary Kate what is the big deal about that place anyways?"
     "From what I've heard, Sara, it is haunted," Mary Kate said.
     "Ghost aren't real. Mary Kate don't tell me you believe in ghost," said Sara. 
     "Sure I do. And that place is one of the reasons why I believe in ghosts," Mary Kate said.
     "So, who supposedly haunts that place then. A murder victim?" Sara asked with a chuckle.
     "No, she wasn't murdered. She was running down some stairs and fell and broke her neck," Sara began to explain.
     "Yah, right."
     "No, I'm serious. Her Father wouldn't let her marry the man she loved because he wasn't high enough class or something like that. Anyways, they had this big argument and she ran from his study to go to her lover. She tripped on the stairs and fell to her death. But do you want to know what was terrible about the whole thing?"
     "What's that? She's already dead, what else could go wrong?"
     "Her lover was waiting outside for her and he heard all the screaming. I guess he was coming up the stairs on the front porch and saw her fall through the door. But the worst thing of all, I guess her father couldn't live with himself and he died of a heart attack shortly afterwards. As for her lover, he lived a long loveless life, never making anything of himself."
     "That is horrible," Sara said. 
     "Hold on, I'm not done. So from my understanding on October 10th every year she is seen running down the stairs only to fall each time to her death."
     "So you can only see her on October 10th?"
     "No, she is always there crying and wondering around inside Kohler Lane. But she runs down the stairs every year on the anniversary. I guess she's just trying to make it down the stairs or something."
     "Wow. That's a great story but I still don't believe that she's a ghost."
     "Wait a second. Isn't today October 10?" Mary Kate said with a smile. "I have an idea." 
     "And what can that be? Let me guess. You want to sneak up to that house to see the ghost," said Sara.
     "Are you reading my mind or what?" Mary Kate exclaimed. 
     "You're crazy," Sara paused then said sarcastically, "When are we going to do this?"
     "Wait a second. I thought you just said that you don't believe in ghosts. Are you scared?"
     "No, I'm not scared. It's just when do you think we are going to do this?" 
     "Well, since the ghost doesn't come out until around ten o'clock tonight, I think we should sneak out shortly before then," said Mary Kate.
     "I don't think I'm going to like this, but I'll go so I can prove that ghosts aren't real," said Sara.
     ***
     Red, orange, pink, and yellow filled the humid sky as the sun started to disappear for the day. Mary Kate and Sara watched from the front porch of Sara's house sitting in white wicker chairs with their feet propped up on a matching wicker footstool they shared.
     "It's time," said Mary Kate as the two girls stood up as the rest of the sun disappeared and only the light of the moon was left. With a flashlight in hand the two paced down Sara's driveway, crossed the street, and continued to walk until they reached the black gate. 
     "What if it's locked?" said Sara.
     Mary Kate took out her flashlight and shined light on a lock hanging open. Pushing the gate open Mary Kate entered the weedy dirt driveway first and Sara followed behind. The two looked at the old Victorian house as the moon gave it a scary glow. 
     "What's that?" whispered Sara as she pointed to the upper balcony. There was a figure of a woman that had a light glow emerging off of her. "There is someone up there. Do you see her Mary Kate?"
     "I see. This is great. She's out tonight. Let's go inside and get a better look," Mary Kate said.
     The marble stairs leading to the front porch made a crunching sound each time one of the girls stepped down.  The moonlight was shining on the front door as Mary Kate grasped the handle and the door swung open with a shrieking sound. Standing back for a second the two continued through the doorway as Mary Kate moved her flashlight through the room. 
     "Why are you using a flashlight? Why don't we just turn on a light switch or something?" asked Sara.
     "I can't believe you just said that. This house hasn't been lived in since the late 19th century. There wasn't electricity yet," Mary Kate exclaimed.
     The room that the front door entered into was large. A golden staircase rounded the back of the room with two sides of stairs. Old Victorian furniture was in the room. Some was flipped over and broken but overall most appeared to be in decedent shape with dusty white drapes tossed over them.
     "Lets go upstairs," Mary Kate whispered.
     Tiptoeing up the stairs, Mary Kate's flashlight discovered a painting at the top. A beautiful woman with dark eyes looked at them. She was wearing a sky blue dress and her hair was pulled up with chestnut curls falling around her heart shaped face.
     "That must be what she looked like," said Mary Kate.
     "What who looked like?" asked Sara.
     "The ghost silly," Mary Kate answered with a loader whisper.
     Just at that moment, a light came charging out of the hallway and started down the top of the stairs. Both girls gasped and pressed themselves against the wall, hoping not to be seen. The image of a young woman dressed the same as the painting they had just seen ran by them. She was crying and yelling, "I will marry him father, and I don't care…" She saw Mary Kate and Sara against the wall and stopped in her tracks to look at the two terrified girls.
     "What are you doing in my house?" she asked.
     "We heard some yelling and, um, we were wondering why you were so upset," said Mary Kate.
     "Don't talk to her, Mary Kate. Let's get out of here fast," said Sara.
     "Hold on a second," Mary Kate said over her shoulder and turned her full attention to the ghost. "Why are you so upset?" she asked again.
     "Why, my father and I just had a disagreement about William," said Clara.
     "Where is William?" asked Mary Kate.
     "Why, I hope he is waiting for me outside, so that way we can run away together," said Clara.
     "Where are you two going to go?" Mary Kate asked. 
     "I don't care, as long as we are together. I don't even care what my father says," said Clara. "I-I just have to make it down the stairs and everything will be alright."
     "What do you mean make it down the stairs?" Sara spoke up in a loud whisper.
     "I never make it down the stairs. I always trip halfway down and then I'm lost in the house for such a long time before I try again. I've done it so many times the fall doesn't even upset me anymore. I keep running down the stairs because I feel like I have to," said Clara.
     "Maybe you should try walking instead of running," suggested Sara.
     "That might work. I'll try walking," Clara said calmly with hope.
     Clara took one step at a time walking very slowly. When she reached the step where she normally fell, she turned to look at the two girls.
     "Go on," they both encouraged.
     Clara took the step without falling. At that moment Mary Kate and Sara couldn't believe their eyes. The whole room lit up with candles to show what the house must have looked like many years ago. Clara started to run out the door as her father came running down the stairs passing the two girls like they weren't even there.
     "Come back Clara. I'm sorry. Please come back and we can arrange something," Clara's father yelled.
     Clara stopped in her tracks and asked, "You will let me marry William?"
     "Yes, child, let him in. I would rather let you marry William than never see you again," he answered.
     Clara yelled out the door for William and he came in. Clara's father wished them the best and they left together. As soon as the two walked out the door hand in hand the house became dark once again. Mary Kate and Sara looked at each other with their eyes as big as saucers, and then walked down the stairway and out of Kohler Lane. They never said a word to one another about the event, but in both their hearts they knew that there was no longer a ghost at Kohler Lane. 

     Acknowledgments
     I would like to thank the fallowing people that helped give me ideas for my story and also for proof reading. Thanks to Professor Heller, Tom, Joo-Young Choi, Heather Petsche, Brooke Wright, Lin Prisbrey, Tom Updegraff, and Christina Vogel. Thank you all.


 
 
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