1. You just moved into a house that looks like this.
2. The real estate agent drops off the keys and says, “Don’t you just love it? So airy.”
3. You’ve started unpacking all the boxes.
4. You hang an old mirror on the wall in the foyer.
5. (You moved out here so you could live in a place with a foyer.)
6. When someone asks where you got your old mirror, you can’t really remember, exactly. “My … great-aunt’s … cousin’s … estate sale?”
7. You’re beginning renovations to accommodate your growing family. Maybe you’ll start in the attic!
8. You tell your significant other that you’re going to clean out the attic. They’re like, “We have an attic?” You’re like, “I could’ve sworn I told you.”
9. In the attic, you think you see a figure moving from your peripheral vision. But when you turn around, it’s just an old mannequin.
10. On your way out of the attic, you find a torn photograph.
11. You show the photograph to your significant other, but they don’t really think it’s that interesting. (Yet.)
12. You quit your job to focus on researching the photo’s origins in the archives at the library.
13. A librarian tells you, “Nobody’s opened THAT file in years.”
14. You go home to share a tender moment with your significant other.
15. Your significant other tells you, “This will be good for us.”
16. In the morning, you can’t find your keys.
17. When you find them (in the drawer you never use, because it’s broken??), you decide you must have misremembered where you left them.
18. You return to the library to find the original librarian is gone. “She had to leave town suddenly,” says the new librarian, who seems to know more than he is letting on.
19. In the file you find a death certificate.
20. The cause of death is “TRAGEDY.”
21. You go home to tell your significant other you think the photograph is related to something horrible that happened here once. Your significant other says, “Darling. Please. Set this stuff aside, and get some rest.”
22. You wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a child’s voice.
23. You tip-toe down the hall to check on your own children, who are peacefully sleeping.
24. You return to bed, and even though everyone expects something else will happen that night, nothing does.
25. You wake up with a false sense of security, because the sun is out.
26. You paint a wall, and when you wipe your face, a little paint gets on it.
27. You drive around town looking tired and wearing an oversized, neutrally toned sweater.
28. You ask a woman working at the diner if she can tell you anything about the tragedy, but she doesn’t really want to talk about it.
29. An old man sitting in the corner of the diner, or maybe just outside it, tells you to stop nosing around town.
30. You tell him, “I just want to know what happened.”
31. You drive home to have an unexpectedly explosive argument with your previously beloved significant other.
32. Your significant other tells you, “You need to let this stuff go.”
33. You say “OK,” but you don’t mean it.
34. You wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a child’s voice, and footsteps.
35. You check on your children, who are peacefully sleeping.
36. You leave the doors to their rooms open, but when you’re walking back to your room, they slam shut.
37. You turn around and race back, struggling to open one door, and then the next. They won’t open.
38. You call out for help, but your significant other remains asleep.
39. You start pounding on the doors, and also crying.
40. Just when it seems like you could not possibly get any more frightened, the doorknobs turn smoothly in your hands. The first door opens, then the next.
41. You look in the rooms and see your children, sleeping peacefully.
42. You take a few moments to examine the doorknobs, pressing your face up close to the locks.
43. You pause outside their doorways and wonder if you are going crazy.
44. You invite friends over for a dinner party. Everyone dresses up. At the table, while one of your friends is talking, you think you hear something. The person who was speaking stops, pauses to listen, and says, “What was that?” A few of the people at the table — including your significant other — laugh at you for being so jumpy, but you feel almost relieved. Someone else heard it, too.
45. That night, nothing happens. You sleep well the whole night. Too well.
46. The next day, a weekend day, a psychic medium comes over.
47. The psychic medium says, “Something terrible happened here,” and you look at your significant other like, I told you so.
48. Your significant other tells you you have to stop. You say you can’t.
49. You get in another fight with your significant other, and it’s decided you’ll sleep on the couch.
50. When you lie down, there is a ghost in the mirror, but you can’t see it because you are facing the wrong way.
51. You wake up in the middle of the night. It’s so quiet.
52. You walk into the kitchen for a glass of water, the floorboards creaking beneath you as you go.
53. Once you’ve taken a few sips of water, you carefully set your glass in the bottom of the sink.
54. You turn on the faucet and splash some cool water on your face.
55. When you turn around, there is a dead girl floating in the air in front of you. That’s when you’re pretty sure.