The Gems in Their Crowns

Continuing our theme from last week of walking with the Golden Girls, let’s take a moment to look more closely at the gems in Blanche’s crown as well as the heroes that have emerged in recent weeks.

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Photo courtesy of Closer Weekly’s Collectors Edition The Golden Girls magazine, from spring of 2017.

“Like I’m the only one who’s ever mixed a margarita in a sailor’s mouth.” – Blanche

On the surface, Blanche Elizabeth Devereaux is a fun loving lady who deems herself a queen of the old South. To any outsider, and often to her friends, she is vain, attention hoarding and the world revolves around her. However, a dive beneath the shallow waters reveals a more complex character with deeper strengths and flaws that reveal her to be quite human. The humanization of characters may seem like an odd concept for which to aspire, but it is the flaws, the problems of our favorite TV characters that make them “real” and more like us viewers. Indeed, the Golden Girls were constrained by the twenty-eight minute or so air-time, and most of their problems were solved in that brief frame, but the issues they touched, as we will see with our first highlighted golden girl, remain to be profound in modern times.

Throughout the twentieth century, we ladies have made tremendous leaps in the United States, but the value of women as more than mere house-wives who had the right to vote was emerging as a common theme in 1980s cinema and sitcoms. The Cosby Show had Dr. Claire Huxtable. The ladies of Nine-To-Five proved to their good-for-nothing boss that karma packed one mean powerful punch. And the Golden Girls had Blanche, a vixen who had married rich, was temporarily engaged to an extremely wealthy man, was for the majority of her life a house-wife and had a governess to take care of her children. Blanche pushed the envelope in many ways, but it was not towards backwards thinking as may be immediately assumed. Blanche is a character full of surprises. Diving just a bit deeper we see that regardless her assertions as a meek, yet sexually free female, she has principles and stands up when her loved ones are or integrity is threatened.

There is one episode in particular that seems especially relevant in our current times. In an episode in Season One appropriately entitled, “Adult Education,” Blanche is taking a few extra courses to complete a degree, which will help to have her considered for a promotion at work. This alone is something to stop, analyze, and admire. In the 1980s, 25% of the female population 18-24 years old in the USA were enrolled at college, compared to the over 45% today (Mather and Adams). That’s all well and good, but realize that the average age of college for females even to date is between 18 and 24. Blanche was in her fifties vying for a promotion by trying to earn her degree. This is a subtle detail in the episode, but incredibly inspiring. It shows that you don’t have to be twenty-something to be a college student hoping to advance yourself professionally. Hope to better one’s self does not have to and nor should it stop just because you’ve built a family, or in Blanche’s case, that she lived in a mostly empty nest, save for the few “coo-coos” who were her roommates. (Die-hard Golden Girls fans will likely understand that reference. If you don’t get it, watch Season Seven.)

In Blanche’s quest to achieve that promotion, she hits a snag. She needs to bring up her grade in Psychology; she failed her midterm and if she doesn’t pass the class, she won’t have the GPA to receive her degree. Trust me, if anything stands in the way between you and your degree, a piece of paper that you have put your blood, sweat, and tears into, you’re going to be upset and willing to do almost anything to achieve that most desired end. After consulting her girls, Blanche decides to ask her professor for assistance to see what she can do to earn a better grade in the class. The professor listens to her story and unfortunately, he does have a way that will guarantee her the path to a passing grade. A path that of course excites her until she realizes that the extra-credit would involve extra-curricular activities. Blanche is prone to be drawn to those activities, in fact the word “addict” come to mind, but she knows that she wants to be proud of her degree. Sleeping with the professor would forever hinder her from holding her head high whenever she looked at or thought about her degree.

After the incident Blanche consults with her girls and they all agree that she needs to report it to the administration.  When she does, alas, for Blanche the ol’ song and dance that many people who blow the whistle fear; the administrator said to her, “It’s your word against his.” Like it’s not terrifying enough for victims of sexual harassment to come forward, particularly when their harassers are in positions of power, the person who was supposed to provide her help, refused to take her seriously because there was no witness and because, to quote the administrator, “A man’s career [was] at stake.” Blanche’s pride, respect and self esteem, evidently were not. This horrible thought that one person’s career is valued over another person’s pride and self respect has been in the news more than we’d like to believe in these last few months, a thought that’s been around likely as long as we have been conscious beings on this earth. Just think, within this month alone, over 150, ONE-HUNDRED AND FIFTY SIX young women came forward to have their stories, their voices heard in court regarding the abuse they incurred from a man whose profession was valued over their pride and self respect. These women were the young athletes, most of which were Olympian athletes, people we cheered for and rejoiced with at every win and victory. These women, who were young girls at the time, were sexually abused by one authoritative figure that they were told to trust, one man affected countless lives, but these women are not victims. They are survivors. They deserve our applause and cheers now more than ever. They will rise as phoenixes and they will teach us how to break our silences as they have been able at last to end theirs.

Now, many of those young girls had come forward over the years. Many in years passed had tried to make his demons known, but they were silenced like Blanche and so many other survivors before.

Blanche could easily have accepted this, she could have kneeled to the idea that her report could ruin a man’s career, but she decided to take a stand for her own rights. She buried herself in the books and even missed a Frank Sinatra concert to take her final exam. Towards the end of the episode, Blanche is the last student remaining in the class. The professor tells her that it is time for pencils down. When she stands up, the professor again asks her to consider his offer, but Blanche was not about to stand down after all of the work she went through. Standing proud, Blanche told the professor to kiss her “A.” (Her grade, of course.)

Blanche, promiscuous, fun loving Blanche, stood up for herself and for women’s rights by saying, “No” because in her particular situation, she was able to. Many survivors are not given that choice. Now, unfortunately for Blanche, she did not receive the promotion because some other woman took a different road by using her body (having a butt lift) to receive the promotion. The girls gave Blanche words of sympathy, but with the biggest smile, Blanche replied that it was alright as, “one day her but’ll turn to mush, but I’ll always have my degree.”

We are living in a very interesting time. Things are changing and changing for the good. It’s going to be a long period of hurt and confusion as heroes crumble from sins and other heroes rise from their courage to stand up. The #MeToo and the #TimesUp movements, though both sparking a variety of opinions, have demonstrated one extremely important message: if you have been in a situation where you were asked or forced into a sexual deed and compelled to be silent, you are not alone. You are not alone. There are COUNTLESS women and men who have gone through similar circumstances and their stories of survival are breaking through.

A quote comes to mind from a marvelous book a dear friend loaned to me; “You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it however.” Richard Bach, Illusions. If an abuser stands in your way, don’t let them stop you. Do not be silenced. Do not let your dreams fail or fall because someone tries to stand in your way. You are more powerful than you know, but those abusers know, and they fear you because of the strength they see inside you. That strength is the greatest gem in your crown.

The tenacity Blanche demonstrated to not give in to the social norms or to what was expected of her as a fun loving, spoiled house wife is what makes her a remarkable character. For the women and men experiencing abuse at the hands of people we are supposed to trust, keep Blanche, the courageous athletes and all of the people standing up in your hearts. Let them be your shield and your words, your weapons.

For the abusers out there, #TimesUp.

Until next week, your humble author,

S. Faxon

PS – In next week’s chapter we are going to go where few have gone before – beneath the peroxide colored hair of Rose Nylund.

A Tribute for Betty White


A remarkable event occurred this week; an international treasure celebrated her birthday. This incredible woman is none other than Betty White. With the seven decades of work Betty White has contributed to the entertainment world and her lifelong pursuit of protecting animal rights, Betty has given incalculable amounts of laughter and love to the entire global community and animal kingdoms. She is probably best known for her work in the NBC series The Golden Girls, a comedy that’s legacy will live on forever because it remains relevant thirty years after its initial airing date and likely will be for many decades to come.

For my readers who’ve been around a while, you may recall the posts I did a few years back about the Girls and their impacts on society. I mentioned in those posts that I’d like to eventually pursue a full length book, an in-depth analysis of the program and the social issues that the creators boldly touched when no one else would. With Betty White’s 96th birthday, I’ve decided to publish, via the Reading Escape, the second edition of those posts week by week. A bit of work has been done to them and I would LOVE to flesh out the rest of the ideas that I have. If you think I’m on to something, leave me a note! I’d really appreciate your feedback prior to submitting this Golden tribute to the Golden Girls (playing around with that as the title).

If you’re reading this, Betty White, may you have another glorious, golden year ahead, filled with nothing but laughter, hot dogs, and vodka! You get ’em girl!


A Golden Tribute to the Golden Girls

By S. Faxon


The potato salad and the Deviled-Egg serving dish were out on the counter. That could only mean one thing – we were going to Ruth’s house. Every second Wednesday of the month promised a ritual that had been maintained religiously by the ladies on the Hill since World War II, at least, that’s how the legend was told. Rain or shine, (with shine being the far more likely) every second Wednesday of the month, for as far back as I could remember, I would walk up the street with my grandma to the pretty pink house on the left hand of the street. That was where we all convened.

We did not use the front door, for what sense would that make? Instead, we used the tall white gate that enclosed the breeze way to enter Ruth’s home. We didn’t go inside though. We walked down the cool covered breezeway, down the first flight of concrete steps, across the yard, passing the concreted area where empty clothes lines were hung, and down a few more steps to the magical place, the enclosed patio. A green screen wooden door would swing open into a small mud room. The conversations that we could hear rolling out from the patio welcomed us with the familiar smells of potluck delicacies. The ladies already inside would help one another unburden their arms full of plates and trays. Laughter was instant and the feeling of community, of neighbors, of family welcomed us with warm smiles and the promise of home cooked food.

Once inside and our dishes out on display, Grandma and I would claim our positions at the table. Grandma always sat at the right hand of Ruth, the leader of the ladies, who was positioned accordingly at the head of the table. Doris, Ruth’s sister-in-law would sit to her left. I sat to the right of grandma. My grandma’s dear friend Evelyn would usually sit across from me, then Hannah, in her beautiful outfits and gorgeous jewelry, would sit to my right. We’d all wait patiently chatting or arranging our foods on the long counter, the outdoor stove and the red-brick fireplace, typical of older homes in San Diego, until the familiar “cling, cling, cling” of Ruth’s knife to the glass or the silver bell would sing. We’d all quiet down for Ruth to lead the prayer, “Bless us, oh Lord, give us this day our daily bread…” Then we’d pick up our plates and hop in line. We’d visit and visit, scoop up potato salad, beans, coleslaw, chicken and then help ourselves to tea or water, which were on the table in a variety of different shaped and colored pitchers.

Once we were all settled we’d eat from our paper plates and visit some more. At some point during the meal, Ruth would ring her bell again and stand to give the neighborhood announcements. Usually this would include reading these new fangled email chain letters that one of the advanced-tech ladies on the hill would provide. Being that I was just a young’un I’d usually excuse myself to go and play in the little fairy garden that was a partially enclosed extension of the community’s center. I remember the little garden being filled with ferns. There were three concrete steps that led into this sacred place, a refuge for a child to play with her sister’s cat, who followed her closely, or to chase away the mean feral that we knew on the hill as Grey Cat.

To an outsider, a non-hill resident, this gaggle of gals looked like nothing more than a bunch of grandmas convening to discuss knitting patterns and to communally babysit some curly-haired kid, but it was so much more than that. This was where the women went to talk about their families, their homes, their plans, and most importantly their lives.

The Widow’s, or the “Widda’s” luncheon, as my grandma would say, was wonderfully shaping for me. It was under their guidance and at these luncheons that I learned how to be a lady. I also learned that there was more to ladies than purses and lipstick. One thing that I appreciated even then was that the ladies never really censored themselves when I was around. They told their crass jokes and gossiped around me like I was one of them, and I was the luckiest kid in the world; I had more grandma figures than anyone! But I didn’t look at them like that – they were my dear neighbors and friends, extensions of my family and home. As an adult, I cannot describe how much I miss that feeling of community.

It’s of little wonder then that I took to liking NBC’s sitcom The Golden Girls. In my formative years, I hadn’t seen a single episode of The Golden Girls until one afternoon, probably a year after my grandmother passed away, at my best friend Victoria’s house. We were probably seventeen and I remember I was standing on one side of the breakfast bar in her kitchen. It was a bright, San Diego afternoon and this funny show was on about these four older ladies living together in Miami. My seventeen-year-old self asked Victoria, “What is this show?”

You don’t know the Golden Girls?!” she replied, unable to believe that I was in the dark. After we established that I had absolutely no familiarity with it, Victoria sat me down on the couch, prepared some popcorn and said, “Trust me. You’re going to like it.”

And that was it. I was hooked.

The more I watched, the more I fell in love with the stories, the lessons, the comedy and, of course, the ladies. Blanch, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia were concentrations of the ladies I knew as a child, all thirty or so of my neighbors who would show every second Wednesday of the month around those four tables held together by mix-matched plastic tablecloths. While my family had left that blessed neighborhood on the hill and while I hadn’t seen any of the girls I knew and loved for years, every time I see an episode of The Golden Girls, I feel like I’m home again and that’s a feeling worth sharing.

Now just like those ladies on the hill, the golden girls represented more than met the eye. When the sitcom was first aired, no one expected the hit that it would come. We laughed with them, sometimes we, “laughed ‘till we peed”, to quote the great Sophia Petrillo. We cried with them. We felt their hurts and tackled with them the struggles of the day. The issues that arose on the show are as relevant today as they were in the eighties, right down to Rose’s letter to Gorbachev. What the golden girls left us was more than a few laughs; they taught us that it’s okay to grow old, that previous social taboos, having a sex life after your spouse dies, being around people with AIDs, and countless other faux pas, can be addressed head on. These are all issues that this blog will cover in the weeks to follow.

This project started when one of my sisters sent me a link to an article regarding an analysis of the Mary Tyler Moore show. The article discussed the residual impact of the sitcom on viewers and its influence on social norms. My sister sent me the link with this simple comment: “You could do this with the ‘Golden Girls!’ No one knows them better than you.”

When I first started this journey through my original blog, The Weekly Read, I had not claimed to be the number one fan, still don’t, but I have always deeply respected and admired the messages within the show and the strength of their characters. When I was a professor at St. John’s University, I considered proposing to instruct a semester long college course on the ‘Politics of the Golden Girls,’ so this project struck me as a positive first step toward achieving this goal and it continues to do so today.

Whether you are interested, but not familiar with the sitcom that aired in 1984, or if the girls are dear friends, sit back, relax, and in the words of Sophia, “Fasten your seat belt slut puppy, this ain’t going to be no cakewalk.” While that’s probably not the case for all of you, the posts in the weeks to follow will be discussing social issues that were controversial at the time of the show’s running life and that remain pressing relevant issues to-date. So curl up, grab a cup of coffee, and maybe even, dare I say it, a slice of cheesecake as we prepare to dive into the legacies that these four ladies and the creators of the program left behind.

We’ll see you next week, dear readers, with our first look back at Blanche Elizabeth Devereaux who’s, as Dorothy realized, initials spell “BED.”

Your humble author,

S. Faxon

My Great Abuela

Happy New Year!

The birth of a new year is a time of reflection and hope. This dawning of the new year has been exceptionally bright for me for many reasons, one of which stems from the inspiration of my great grandmother who just celebrated her 103rd birthday.

Yes, 103.

Think for a moment on the things this sweet woman has seen. We’ve all grown accustom to having our phone in our pockets, car keys on our belt, and plastic cards in our wallets. My great grandma remembers not having a phone in the house, let alone in her pocket, having to walk and take wagons because cars were not available to the average citizens, and having to use the paper currency that was accepted at the time. She was born in the early days of World War One, supported our troops during World War Two. She watched in fascination with the rest of the world as man took their first steps on the moon. She’s seen technology advance from rotary phones to touch screens, phonographs to digital players, type writers to bluetooth keyboards. This incredible woman has seen it all.

Meet my great grandma, Consuelo.

Great Grandama Hererra This is an older photo, but I think it shows why she is loved so much.

Great grandma is the core, the foundation of my family. She has taught us all what it means to love unconditionally and to always open one’s door to friends, family and to those who are in need. We have learned the power of perseverance through her stories of the hardships she endured with the guiding hand of her faith. Her story has been told beautifully by my cousin, David Ortega, in the graphic novels, Dia De Los Consuelo.


This photo is from Christmas a few years back, from left to right: my mom, my sister, great grandma, me, and grandma. This photo was taken in the center of her home where the beautiful tree stands tall to great all who enter.

Whenever we visit great grandma, we know to go with empty stomachs as we would be stuffed to the brim. My mom and I recently saw Disney/Pixar’s Coco and we laughed ’till we cried when the main character Miguel’s abuela made him take another tamale even though he was full…that’s great grandma. Never say you’re full in her house. It’s a concept that is not accepted.

Great grandma is known for her salsa. It’s the spiciest, tastiest stuff around. Legend tells that my older cousins couldn’t stay in the house when she was cooking it because their eyes would burn from the fumes. We joke that it’s the spice from the chili that’s kept her going so strong for so long, but we all know the truth: it’s her faith and the love from the family that surrounds her. Great grandma’s children, her grand children, great grand children, and yes, great-great grand children, have filled her home with life and love all these years. Surrounding yourself with love, dear readers, is the key not just to a long life, but to a full one.


This is a five generation photo. My great grandma, Consuelo, her daughter, Betty, my mom, Roni, my sister Jen, and her son, Zakary. That’s one of the most special photos we have.

GG & Sarah

My great grandma and me.


Happy birthday, great grandma! And happy new year to you, dear readers.

Your humble author,

S. Faxon

Christmas Spiders

It’s become tradition, like stringing up Christmas lights, drinking eggnog, or watching your favorite holiday flick, for me to post the following tale. This is the story that my grandmother used to tell my sisters and me every year. She had these lovely golden beaded spiders that she would hang on the tree. They were beautiful and I hold vivid memories of them in my heart, though I have not seen them for over eleven years.

Hopefully this sweet story will bring a a slightly different perspective for you of our eight legged friends and a little bit of warmth to your day.

This  specific story is a section from my original story I published on my previous blog site, called Providence. If you’d like to see that read, here you go: Providence.

In that space of time the reverend stared at three faux-gold beaded spiders perched atop a mess of silver tensile on the far side of the room. The story of the three spiders popped into the reverend’s head. It was the tale of the arachnids being very curious about a tree, which came into their home. From their corner in the living room, they happily watched the family of the home adorn the tree with all sorts of sparkling decorations and candlesticks aglow. Once the family decided that their task had been one well done, the people left the living rooms to adjourn to their beds. The spiders took the opportunity to look at every limb and trinket upon the tree. They oohed at the golden beads. They awed at the knitted angels. But they were most struck and most impressed with the beautiful glass star that crowned the mighty tree. Quite simply, it was the most spectacular thing that the spiders had ever seen. Feeling satisfied by their explorations, the spiders lowered themselves to the ground, only to discover in great horror that they had unintentionally completely covered the entire tree and decorations with their webbing. The spiders began to wail and cry because they thought that they had had ruined the hard and magnificent efforts of the family with their mess of web and they despaired. However, a shimmering light appeared and an angelic voice spoke to the three spiders and he said to them, ‘But, no, look again,’ and in an instant the grey web turned to silver tinsel and the three spiders glittered like gold from their unintended gifts. The tree was not ruined, but changed into something even more great. 
The reverend smiled to think of this story, which he told every year to the children of Providence on Christmas Eve with the intended message that no matter how messy or entangled life could sometimes become there is always a chance for a happy ending if one only looks at the situation another way. The changed perspectives of the spiders warmed the reverend’s heart even though indeed his present situation  still appeared to be very dark. 
Merry Christmas to you all! May you have nothing but comfort and joy this year!
Until next time dear readers,
Your humble author,
S. Faxon

Comfort and Joy

Every now and then life has a way of bringing moments of sorrow to our path. These life events leave us hurt, confused, sometimes even lost. This was one of those weeks for me. My friends and I experienced some intensely sad and unexpected losses, leaving us heart broken by these major life changes. There were many tears. As it was all passing I kept thinking of that scene in Lord of the Rings where the Hobbits bid the companions of their fellowship goodbye. One of our hobbits had to leave this week and it was heart breaking to watch him board the ship and sail into the west.

But the sun rose from the east this morning as it always has and always will. I rose a glass to my friend last night and this morning found comfort on a restorative run at a local park. The song of the birds and the soundtrack of my favorite movie, Hook, pushed me on and reassured me that everything is going to be ok. With the grass as my seat, I wrote this post, the beautiful, still waters of the bay before me.

No one knows what will happen next, no one knows why sadness is brought to us, but one of my good friends said it best yesterday as we were all saying our goodbyes to our hobbit; good things don’t last forever because we wouldn’t enjoy or appreciate them if they did.

On my run, my eyes still puffy from crying the day before, I was able to find joy from the memories of all the wonderful, laugh filled moments we shared and those yet ahead. I realized that sometimes chapters must come to an end, but that doesn’t mean the story is over. If you turn the page, the setting may have changed, but the characters will remain the same. Realizing this brought me great peace, comfort and joy, as I hope it may for you too, dear readers, if anything like this is happening to you.

All my love, dear readers, and until next week!

Your humble author,



Happy Thanksgiving to one and to all! Today is the day when we gather with friends, families, loved ones and strangers to express our gratitude for the blessings in our life. We’ll eat like kings, we’ll tell tales, and celebrate the traditions carried by our loved ones before us.

It’s a special day that reminds us that life is good, but I challenge you to take a moment out of each and every day to stop for one moment, take a deep breath and whisper to the universe, “Thank you.” Whether it’s when you see a lady bug on a blade of grass or when your cat decides to take a nap on you when you’re trying to get up in the morning, give thanks for that moment out of your troubles, a moment of peace.

Drink the sunsets, dear readers, tell the ones you love just why you do. They’ll be grateful for the love that you share too. If you’d like a place to express your moment of thanks, please feel free to use the comments section to spread that good cheer to fellow readers!

I cannot express how grateful I am for the support I receive from you. Thank you, dear readers, and I’ll write again soon!

Until next week.

Your humble author,

S. Faxon

The Third Room

September 28, 2016

Things were getting desperate. After that night where I slept on the couch, my best friend Victoria was scheduled to come over and hang out before we went out to dinner. As I stood at the kitchen sink, looking over the sleepy street before me, I knew, without doubt or solid evidence, that if I turned around fast enough, I would see it.

The dark shadow lurked in the corner of the kitchen behind me as if chained to the hall. It stood there watching me. Without direct interaction, it told me that it was frustrated, confused, angry. Angry that I was there, but I ignored it. I knew that if I acknowledged it without knowing exactly what I was dealing with, that I could feed its power over me, so quietly, I carried on with washing my dishes.

Victoria arrived just after dark and the second her Chuck Taylors crossed the threshold, it was obvious that she felt it too. Of my suspicions that we were not alone in this house, Victoria was completely unaware. I purposefully did not tell her because if it was as I suspected, Victoria would confirm it. Like me, she’s very attuned to other presences if they should happen to be in the room.

We walked through the house and the entire time, her eyes were wide, her body stiff, mannerisms that I had grown very accustomed to myself while in that house.

After a while, the pair of us opened a grapefruit IPA to toast this new independence. We stood at the foot of the dining room table, directly in line with the hall. It was the most uncomfortable experience that I had yet endured in that house. It was plain that both of us could sense it standing in the hall like a belligerent adolescent. Though we said nothing about it, both of us kept our peripherals on the hall.

It wanted us out, so we respectfully bolted.

The minute we locked the front door behind us, Victoria took her first real breath, like she was breaking the surface after a dive that went too deep.

“How do you stand it in there?” She exasperated. “I couldn’t breathe. There’s someone in there!”

“I know,” I said calmly, but not feeling calm at all. “Where did you feel it watching us?”

Without hesitation she answered, “From the hall and it is pissed.”

There was no better way to say it.

Victoria has numerous of her own spirit stories, but she told me that there was no way that she could ever sleep or be at ease in that house. I knew only too well what she meant.

The next morning, I sent an email to my local parish’s priest. I did not know what else to do.

I asked the Father to come and bless the house, to which he agreed. I spent the week in wait, but, to my disappointment, the priest did not honor the agreement. Driving up the freeway back to my house, fro m church where he and I were supposed to meet, I felt a courage fill me that rarely had reared its head. It was a resolute determination to take this thing head on myself. I was not going to let this unseen terror destroy my peace. Blaring down the highway, I vowed that I would pray that negative energy out from that house.

Bursting through the door, I held tight to my rosary and as if in a trance, repeated over and over again throughout the entire house, “Peace and love fill this house!” If any of the neighbors passed by, I’m sure they thought me a lunatic, but I repeated it over and over for well over twenty minutes before I felt like I could stop. My words echoed in my head and the house felt quieter, lighter, much lighter, but not empty. It felt like the spirit was chased back. Like the wickedness had been thwarted, but it’s presence lingered. It was enough for me at that moment and it allowed me enough peace to get through the afternoon.


That night, I had dinner with my friends Jason and Elizabeth. Elizabeth went on home after, but Jason came by to pick up some important documents in the evening. At one point, we went through the hall to grab those papers from the second bedroom, but we stopped dead. It felt like we walked through a veil of smoke.

“Do you smell that?” I asked, sniffing the air in the center of the hall.

Jason’s crinkled brow intimated that he had.

“It smells like smoke?” he asked.

Nodding, I confirmed, “Like cigarettes.”

Neither of us smoked and as far as we knew, no one in that house had in over thirty years. There were no windows in the hall, no vents. A chilling sensation ran down both of our necks.

I quickly checked the bathroom. No smoke, no smell. Jason checked the old room of the gentleman who lived there, no smoke, no smell. We both checked my room and the same was the case, but just as I was about to check the front of the house, Jason went in to the third room.

The second he stepped inside, I felt an overwhelming sensation like someone was standing in the room screaming, “GET OUT!”

Immediately, I called to Jason, “It doesn’t want us in there, we need to get out of there, right now!”

Grabbing Jason by his shirt sleeve, I pulled him out of the room and we stopped dead for a moment in the hall. The door to the third room closed shut.

We stood silent for a moment, trying to process what happened until again, there was the smell of cigarettes, isolated strictly to where we stood in the hall.

Jason had had enough. He charged in to the living room, me right beside him. We decided that we had to talk to it, to tell it what was going on and that would be enough to calm down whatever was clinging on to this place. Hoping that this would make it leave us alone.

I slowly lowered myself to the couch while jason began to speak, “We know you’re here. My name is Jason, I’m a friend of the gentleman who lives here. We are taking care of him. He is sick and currently can’t live at home. Until he can return, this is Sarah and she is here to take care of this house.”

“Jason,” I interrupted. “Look at Kitty.”

Little Kitty had been playing, carefree and adorably at the foot of the chair by Jason, but now she sat cold, erect, frozen in fear, looking at the hall. Her immensely dilated eyes stared into the face of the person that we could not see.

To this day, it chills me to think of what that pour cat could see that we could not. Whatever it was, it terrified her. Kitty bolted from her spot to hide beneath the roll top desk, something she had not done before and never did again.

Jason and I nearly lost our nerves seeing this, but he continued, “I know that this is new for you and that you’re concerned about your friend, but we will keep you updated on his progress and all we ask is that you leave Sarah and her two cats alone. Let them live here in peace. Thank you and God bless.”

It took a minute, but the room felt lighter, so much lighter! Like it hadn’t as long as I had been there. A tremendous weight was taken from that house, but it wasn’t completely gone, not for a while at least. There were several more conversations like this to follow and the spirit always let us know when it was time for an update, but for the most part, the spirit held true to her end of the bargain. With the clues that we had gathered, we determined that this was the spirit of Scotty’s sister who was watching over him. It made sense that his sudden removal and the entrance of a stranger in his home would seem like an invasion to her.

Toward the end of my eleven month stay in that house, after months of peace, I felt the spirit intimately communicate with me once more.

It was a warm night. It had been another long day of packing up my items and distributing them between my parents’ house, where I was moving, and my storage unit. I had taken a shower and was getting ready for bed. My hair was already dry and I was just about to put on my pajamas when suddenly the distinct touch of a finger running up my spine removed me from my peaceful evening.

The frozen touch chilled me and I knew the question being asked, “What’s going on, Kid?” But I ran out of the bathroom before I answered. I sat on the side of the bed to decide what to say, when the symbol of peace that I had attached to the door of my room for the past eleven months, slipped from its spot right before my eyes.

Quickly, I explained that I was preparing to move and that the house would soon be sold. I explained that the profit would help to ensure the proper care that her brother deserved.

The night was still.

The next day, a week earlier than planned, I packed up the cats and took them to my parents’ place. The lightness had returned, but that was the last night I spent in the house on the hill.

The third room, exactly as it was for twenty years. All of the photos used in this post were taken in 1994. Everything in the photos was EXACTLY where and how we found them when we initially started to clean the house in the summer of 2016.

Until next week, dear readers,

Your humble author,

S. Faxon

Witching Hour

September 14, 2016

In the process of trying to hunt down the sound that had shattered my first night in the new house, my friend Jason made the comment that as long as nothing happened this following night at midnight, I would be fine. Having seen more haunted, paranormal shows than is probably healthy in my time, I authoritatively said, “No, witching hour is much later, it’s between three and five in the morning.” And that’s where I went wrong.

Surely the events of last night could be explained. Surely there was some rational explanation. Granted, the idea of the paranormal was no foreign subject to me, but this was my ship. It couldn’t be sinking.

Jason, Elizabeth and I set out on an investigation to de-bunk the mystery of the sounds that afternoon. We searched high and low, shaking and moving any object we could imagine, and eventually we found it. However, rather than set my my mind at ease, I became even more rattled.

As I was leaving the restroom in the master bedroom where I was staying, the inside door knob told me it was he! The rattle I had heard was the knob. The door knob had rattled in the night as if someone was frustrated, trapped, and couldn’t get out.

After I shared this frightening discovery with my friends, Elizabeth taped over the knob so that it could not make noise in the night. Eventually, after several hours, Elizabeth left for the evening, but Jason stayed to install the smoke detector.

The very kind neighborlady came over and I shared with her the adventures I had endured during the night. She gave me a great big hug, told me to call her if anything happened and assured me that I could stay at her house if anything happened.

Jason finished his chores and then it was time for him to go. I didn’t want any of them to leave, but a slumber party for adults in the middle of the week seemed a ridiculous proposition, so Jason left and it was just Kitty and me.

I prepared for bed, played with Kitty, then left the door to my room open, so she could come in and out if she was comfortable. Having another heartbeat in the house was a great comfort, even if she wouldn’t cross the threshold into the room.

It took a long time for me to fall asleep. It was so cold! It was September, and it was absolutely freezing in the room. No matter what I did, I could not warm up. Even when I tuckered down after a hot shower to sleep, there was no relief.

Though I knew that I was perfectly alone, I could not shake the feeling that someone was standing at the foot of the bed, touching my feet, telling me, “You’re in my bed.

Ignoring the unmistakable feeling of being watched, I focused on Kitty who was still meowing incessantly at me. Eventually, Kitty curled up in a ball just outside the doorway and likely stayed there probably until the middle of the night when…


An alarm went screaming off from the kitchen. I BOLTED out of bed thinking it was the fire alarm, but it was not.

It was the digital alarm clock on the kitchen table, flashing brightly 1200AM.


Picking the screaming thing up, I ripped its cord from the wall to silence the howler. The lights on its face went black, but it fulfilled its mission of waking me up and proving me wrong.

After this incident, I realized that I was not welcome in the master bedroom.

I quickly ran to the back of the house to grab the photo of my grandma and me, my Crucifix, a flashlight and a blanket. At that moment, I could not be paid enough to sleep in that room.

I closed the door for the night and proceeded to nest on the couch that was probably thirty years older than me. Content and happy with my decision, my little protector Kitty perched on the back of the couch, curled up in a ball and continued to watch over me.

Kitty had been warning me since I arrived at the house, so I finally took her advice. With the standing lamp on, I spent the night on the couch facing the hall. The light and the change of scenery was a slight comfort, but I knew without seeing it, without fully believing it, that something was standing right in the hall, facing me too.

Left side of photo, the hall.

Until next time dear readers, for the exciting conclusion of The House,

Your humble author,

S. Faxon

PS – Happy Halloween

The House

September 13, 2016

I had recently learned a new phrase: “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”

This phrase came streaming into my forethoughts at 1:17AM after a third, unexplainable rattle split the silence of the night. As my heart raced and I tried to take deep breaths and remain calm, I half joked to myself as a part of that calming attempt, “My one stipulation for staying in this house would have been that it wasn’t haunted.”

There was something off about that back room where I was staying my first night in the house I was to look after for the next several months. Perhaps it was the single, bright white light that had a sterile, illuminous glow. Maybe it was the ducks on the wall that looked to be flying for their lives. Perhaps it was the way the cat that I was fostering would sit in the hall before the bedroom as if to collect me and return us both to the safety of the living room. At that moment while the rattling was disturbing my sleep, I wanted those reasons to make more sense than the two deaths that had occurred in this home. None of these reasons had really occurred to me when the opportunity to stay in the house rent free had originally been presented.

“I have a plan formulating,” a dear friend had said as we stepped into her husband Jason’s car. We were on our way to visit Kitty, a sweet, but timid cat whose owner was no longer able to take care of himself in his home. My friends had been charged with the task of taking after the home, but between providing the care for this elderly gentlemen and their own lives, the house was an imposing and titanic task. My friends had been trying to convince me to foster Kitty for weeks, but being that I was a typical Millennial living at home, that prospect was beyond my control. My parents and I already had Bella Tuna Todd and did not need another cat, but my heart broke when my friend, Elizabeth, told me that morning that her contacts who had wanted to adopt Kitty backed out.

Elizabeth wanted me to go to the house that she and her husband were the caregivers of, to fall in love with Kitty, so to have one more go trying to convince my parents. After one evening seeing the house and visiting Kitty, who was wonderful and did not yet know how to play, I received an email from my friend that described her plan: if I was willing, my cat Bella and I could move into the empty house to care for Kitty. I was ecstatic. Even if just temporarily, I would have a place to have on my own.

Several weeks of cleaning the house that had endured decades of neglect later, I was just about ready to move in. Knowing the odd history of the house, my friends asked me to stay there for a few nights to ensure that I would be comfortable prior to uprooting Bella. I knew that two people had passed away there and that the gentleman who had lastly called this place his home abruptly left, but I had my experience with the paranormal, and this didn’t intimidate me. The house had character and it was the house that the neighborhood children avoided, as its facade was run down, the trees overgrown. It didn’t have a washing machine, there was no cable, the second bathroom didn’t work, and the crumbling, faded pink wallpaper from the sixties screamed to be put to rest, but none of that bothered me. My one stipulation was said as a joke; that as long as it wasn’t haunted, I would be fine.

All of this flashed through my mind at 1:15AM when the first rattling shattered my pleasant sleep. The sound had erupted from the bathroom, but I could not for the life of me remember drawer handles inside that would rattle if the house shifted. Before I could fully process the happening, it happened again.

Directly behind me.


There was nothing but a wall behind me and certainly nothing that could rattle.

Feeling sufficiently unnerved, I crawled out of bed to grab my knife from my bag. It was my first night in this house and I didn’t know what to expect, so I ensured that I was prepared, but I was prepared to face the living, not the dead.

While crawling back into bed, staring at the dun colored curtains glowing from the green nightlight in there room, I realized that Kitty had not stepped a paw into the back room, my room. She had stood in the doorway as if beckoning me to come out of there as I prepared for bed. In retrospect, I should have listened. There was something in there that she could see that I could not and it genuinely scared her.

Several other inexplicable sounds disturbed the night, but none so loud as those first three. Rationally, I knew that this was my first night in the house and that there were bound to be sounds that I neither recognized or knew, but the feeling that I was no longer alone began to grow.

Stubborn and determined, I decided to write this off to a first night in a strange environment. I had to go to work in the morning and needed to try to return to the comfort of sleep. It took some time to pass out, but eventually, I forced my fears aside and ignored the meows of Kitty in the hall, which I knew was her begging me to leave that room.

Actual photo of the room.

Stay tuned for next week’s chapter in this, your Halloween read, and my true story nightmare.

Your humble author,

S. Faxon

Why the Web

Good day to you all! Are you ready for your first short story of the season in this new blog site? If you are familiar with the former Reading Escape blog, then you know that Halloween themed stories come aplenty in October, so here we are! Today’s short was inspired by a Tweet from none other than J.K. Rowling that I scrolled past while sipping my coffee this morning:

The tweeted inspiration.

The following is a complete work of fiction, but one inspired by the photo she snapped and the Tweets regarding the spider she has posted, so thank you J.K. Rowling for the spark you provided today, for your imaginative literary works, and most of all, for all of the wonderful charity work that you support. Hopefully this will provide a theory to at least one string of your questions regarding the webs. Enjoy!

Why the Web

It was half past nine in the evening when the author decided to put down her pen and call it a night. The day spent at her craft had been productive, but not so much as she would have preferred. It was rather frustrating writing for a deadline and it had been a long time since she had achieved her daily goals. Most mornings had been spent stewing over a paper in search of inspiration rather than creating and typing. Her fingers danced on the keys nonetheless, albeit more to that of a militant march than to a sprightly, energetic tune.

After standing and stretching from her desk, she tucked pages of idea-covered leaves and napkins into a heavily used manila folder. She took the final sip from an exhausted cup of cold tea before turning out the lights. In the dark, the author left the room and enclosed the writing room for the night behind a pair of French doors.

From atop the door frame, a pair of spiders watched with intrigued blinking eyes. They were absolutely captivated by this woman who appeared to have extreme moments of brilliance inside the room, but as of late had been enduring much longer stretches of creative frustration in that small space. Day after day they watched her enclose herself in the room for hours and hours at a time. She was a marvelous spectacle to them and tonight was the night they were determined to see what kept her attention inside.

“C’mon,” the blue hued spider said to its mate. “Let’s have another look-see.” Without waiting for his friend, the blue spider began to walk briskly down the seam of the doors.

“But we’ve never made it through before,” the grey spider reminded, deciding to repel down the door with a long silver thread. “She always keeps that door closed even when she’s in there.” Bounding down, the grey spider furthered, “And even that one time when she did have it open longer than a minute, we lost our nerve, thinking we’d be squished if she saw us. If only we weren’t afraid, we could see what the source of her emotions must be!”

The spiders had a long line of theories as to what kept her so entertained and so busy. The theory they were both willing to agree to was one they hoped to see tonight. Magic. It was the only thing that made sense to the spiders.

“Well, let’s have a look and see if maybe this time, she did not close these properly,” the little blue was determined that this would be the night when they would finally see their theory come true.

The spiders finished the long trek, arriving atop the patina handles of the doors.

“If only we could figure out how to open these, Blue!” the grey spider tugged with all of his might at the gargantuan handle he stood upon, but alas, the little one was not strong enough to make it budge.

Blue was not joining his friend to help open the doors. He was in deep concentration, looking through the glass at the area in the room that captivated the human the most. After a long while, Blue suggested, “Perhaps the opposite should be true, Grey.”

“Eh?” Grey stopped his new efforts of jumping on the handle in attempt to make it move.

Blue continued his thought out loud, “Didn’t you see how frustrated she was today?” Grey nodded and crossed the handles to stand beside his friend. “Maybe whatever she had that was in there making her happy is slipping away?” Blue continued.

The spiders contemplated this idea and simultaneously pressed their faces against the window looking into the room, peeking their eight tiny eyes inside.

Upon the desk they so desperately wished to explore lie a very simple spread; a keyboard, a white framed box that, although asleep now, glowed like the sun while she was inside. They had often suspected that the box was the source of the magic, but there were times when the human would grow very annoyed with the box, even yelling at it at times, which was most peculiar. The pair had softly deduced that surely the magic must have come from something else.

Above the desk was the most curious thing of all. Contained inside a glass box was a slender wooden stick with a pair of half moon shaped spectacles trapped inside with it.

Blue pointed at the box and said, “Those things must be of great importance to have them in her direct line of sight.”

“She does look up at them for long stretches of time,” Grey agreed. “Do you think that box may be the source?!” Grey was hardly able to contain his excitement with this thought.

“Yes,” Blue said contemplatively, as though not thoroughly convinced. Rubbing his chin, the gears began to fall into place for the little spider. “Perhaps also that the magic is simply within!”

“Within?” Grey questioned, looking back at his friend.

“Yes, of course!” Blue was inspired. “The magic is inside the room and I’ll bet it grows upon itself. That’s why she closes the doors, to keep it inside! Surely it regenerates to have stayed so long, but it must be escaping somehow. That must explain why she’s been so frustrated lately.”

“Because it’s not all in there!” Grey speculated. “But why can’t we see it?”

“We can’t see it because it must be really small,” Blue held up his forefeet and pinched them together to demonstrate the type of micro sized magic bits he was envisioning.

“Do you suppose it can fit through the doors?” Grey looked to the seam between the doors that neither he or his friend could fit through. “We’ve always felt a breeze coming out from in there.”

“Yes!” Blue shouted. “That must be it. That’s the magic escaping. “We should help her keep it in there. Let’s seal the cracks of the door so that the magic will stay inside and she won’t have to be frustrated any more! We’ll make it so nothing can escape our silver lines!”

“Righto, let’s!” little Grey rejoiced, jumping up and down. “Then perhaps when she sees how helpful we’ve been, we won’t have to fear her squishing us when we do make it inside!”

“Precisely!” Blue exclaimed. “Why don’t you start at the floor and work your way up. I’ll start at the top. We’ll meet in the middle and tie off our knots!”

The spiders set off to work and labored all through the night. They toiled to produce the most elaborate security system a spider ever made. They knew for certain that no magic would be able to escape tonight. When they finished tying their intricate knots around the handles, they ascended to the top and celebrated, for they knew they had done their human right. Though the spiders were exhausted, neither could sleep from the thrill of their excitement.

In the mid-morning light, their favorite human emerged. She was armed with her steaming cup of tea and a paper tucked between her elbow and side.

At first, the spiders giggled giddily at their chore as they watched her approach, but then their stomachs filled with butterflies as they awaited her reaction.

The woman stopped dead in her tracks, her eyes entrapped by the webs.

She looked left and right, all up and down the door, analyzing the silvery strings that seemed to bind together the entryway. The location of this web was curious, but beautiful all the same. She peered behind the handles, trying to see if the creator of the web was anywhere to be found. The second to last she wanted to do was to disturb the eight-legged artist. The last thing she wanted was to be bit by the spider as revenge for ruining its web.

From up above, in their micro voices, the spiders cheered her on to take down their wall of web to enter the room they restored with magic.

“Well, there is work to be done,” the author sighed. She used her paper to delicately clear the web away. “Sorry, spider,” she apologized, feeling terribly guilty for destroying the spider’s work.

The spiders did not mind. They watched delightedly as the human entered the room, closed the doors behind her, and took her seat. They patiently waited on the hall-side of the doors, looking in through the windows. Surely the room was loaded with magic by now and she would be happily working again any second!

The author adjusted herself in her chair before the now glowing box and instead of opening the paper, as was her norm, to glance the headlines, she let it sit instead beside her cup of tea. She stared back at the doorway for a long while, contemplating the webs.

The spiders grew nervous. “Have we fouled up?” Blue asked Grey, but then, something remarkable happened.

The author burst into one of her old moments of brilliance, sliding her fingers across a page with pen locked in hand. It was not long before the pen was left behind and across the keys of the keyboard, her fingers danced rhythmically for hours.

The spiders jumped up and down and danced for joy! Their nets had worked and the magic had remained inside.

From their great excitement, the pair made a pact to carry on their new routine for the rest of their lives to keep the author happy, so that someday they could safely traverse the room, to also enjoy the mirth of the magic inside.

Every morning for many weeks to follow, the author returned to the writing room to find the web stretched across the handles of the doors. It made her smile every time, though she was not exactly sure why. The spiders knew, of course, and they watched her from above inside the room. They were filled with a glee they assumed was the same as hers, inspired by the magic within the room. They watched her happily at her craft in plain sight, for they knew that if they were spotted by her now, they would only be greeted with appreciation.


Until next week!

Your Humble Author,

S. Faxon