Sukey Short

Nothing is more dramatic than a ghost.
T.S. Eliot

Sukey Short is our ghost, and she’s been around here a very long time.

I first heard her story when I was a boy. As it was told to me, Sukey was old and lived alone. She wasn’t a witch, but folks thought she was.  One cold winter evening her fire had gone out. Sukey went to the houses in the community asking for some coals so she could restart he fire, but because people were afraid of her, no one would open their door or give her any.

On her way home that night Sukey sat down on a stump to rest. Someone found her there the next morning. She had frozen to death.

After that she became what old timers called a “haint.” People sometimes saw her riding a horse in a moonlit pasture. Animals would spook when passing by the place she died. She was generally credited/blamed for mysterious and otherwise seemingly inexplicable occurrences.

Nowadays hardly anyone around here knows about Sukey and her story. But in our household we remember. When something spooky happens around here, we give a nod to Sukey Short.

One night when I was a boy I walked to my Grandma’s house. The shortcut I took to get there took me over the front porch of the then-abandoned and deteriorating old farmhouse on our place.

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It looked a lot different then. Imagine the porch falling in, overgrown boxwoods in the yard, etc.

When I reached the old house I was struck by something odd. There was a white dress hanging on the balcony. I stopped and looked at it a while, wondering how it got out there. The balcony was dangerous at the time and we were strictly forbidden to go onto it.

A few minutes later, at my Grandma’s house, I asked her about the white dress. “There’s no dress hanging on that balcony,” she answered. I insisted that I’d just seen it, but she was firm that it wasn’t there. So when I returned home after my visit I was anxious to take another look. But, when I got there, to my surprise there was no dress.

Was it Sukey Short that I saw on the balcony that night?

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