Laura Dvorak 5:47 p.m., Dec. 6
Warmth from the sun makes my bare skin stick to the smoldering leather seats as I drive down the road, wind taking a trip through my wavy sun kissed hair. Perfectly planted rows of greenery fly past on either side of the road, arousing my senses as the floral scents find their way through my cracked windows. Cheerful birds chirp happily from the plush tops of the sturdy trees and joggers, many in tow with their loyal dogs, pound the pavement. Gated neighborhoods sheltering spacious mansions from curious passerby’s interlope with windy roads, made dark by the shade of old trees planted years ago.
Espola Road, described above, encompasses a vast majority of the small town I gladly call home, Poway. It is a magnificent looking section of town and I constantly find myself admiring its beauty. Yet, once the lights are turned off and the stars make there nightly appearance in the vast night sky; Poway can turn from a vision of heaven to a prime location for childlike fears to grow.
The tall trees that provide shade in the heat of the day cast ghostly shadows in the dark. Homes located in dim desolate neighborhoods a short drive off the main road become spooky to maneuver through once the suns rays have turned off. One may find themselves in fear of what’s lurking around each twist and turn on the road ahead of them.
Driving home late at night, headed north on the 15 freeway. I approach the Poway Road exit, quickly coming up on my right hand side. Navigating my car to the off ramp, pausing at the intersection and gently coasting to the right I find myself on Poway Road. Poway Road is populated with business, homes, and fast food joints open till late hours. The only thing to fear here at this dark hour is a speeding ticket. Police officers hide in every dark corner while others patrol up and down the long stop light infested road; in search for speeders sneaking over the slow speed limit of 35. I pass by a Taco Bell, Pawn Shops, Good Will, Salvation Army, and many other places such as the Poway public library. The library leaves on all their bright lights at night. Through the bare glass windows the book filled shelves I browse on a regular basis are clearly visible and the large carpeted expanse is completely desolate. An abandoned gas station sits to my left as I make a turn onto Community Road, usually the four way intersection is overflowing with vehicles, but at this time of night its just me and a cop car.
Now Poway’s spooky side begins to come alive. As I quickly draw near the side street that connects to Midland Road I can see the eerie green and white Church, humble in size, yet topped with a massive pointed peak. It stands parked on the corner. Its original location was slightly elsewhere but it was built in Poway in 1887. The history of weddings, deaths, and ceremonies, here are endless. History silently fills its white walls. A historical old photograph framed in my family’s home displays the church surrounded by vast fields of nothing but greenery. In front of the Holly Church’s doors stands a school of children with their intelligent looking teachers. Each figure stands with no expression on their face, they are looking straight ahead of them, assorted in an organized cluster. Thoughts of the black and white photo come to my mind as I stare at the modern day image creating the first chill to rupture up the back of my spin. I accelerate forward, sub-concisely picking up speed to escape the haunted images I find forming in my mind.
Once I arrive at Midland Road I am surrounded by Poway’s attempt to get rid of the old and build up the new. A country themed shopping center with fresh new paint and adorable shops sits vacant in the dark to the right. Old Poway Park with its historical railroad, which our whole town was built because of, sits parallel.
Women in long fluffy peasant dresses and men in tight stuffy suits slowly making there way to their destinations. Some on horseback some trudging by foot as the summers sun scorches the backs of their exposed necks. Children merrily playing, carefree, on their sprawling farmlands. All of this used to exist where I now drive my motor powered vehicle down the paved road. My eye catches sight of a beautiful Victorian home up on the hillside, this is the oldest house in Poway, I have been told. I have also been told stories of it being haunted. Possibly by the same man who stands in front of a very similar looking wooden home in yet another historical black and white photo my family has. The photo depicts one of the first Poway men proudly posing in front of his new home. His farmers hat casting scary shadows on his stern face. With the vastness of my imagination I can see this man lurking in the open window of the tall green and white home I am now looking at, he is starring out at me with mincing eyes. I quickly look away from the home, back to the sinister streets ahead of me. Making all attempts to ignore the second chill that has found its home in the base of my spine.
Pulling onto Twin Peaks Road heading right I take a deep breath; I feel safe with Twin Peaks Middle School flying past me to the left and family homes scattered to the right. I pass the ancient looking shopping center intact with my favorite donut shop as I turn left and pull onto Espola Road. My territory. I am almost home. Espola Road is dark and street lights are sparse. Despite the lack of other vehicles and reassuring lights it is still no fright for me. A sign in dire need of being renovated flashes in my sight, HIGH VALLEY, written in bold letters signaling I have almost made it home. I am tired from my driving and can not wait to find myself in the comfort of my warm bed. Now all that is left to do is make it through the scariest part of my whole drive. The gears on my trusty car shift as it makes the effort to climb up the steep incline presented before it. As the hill gains height the twist and turns of the road begin. Looking out to the right I can see a mass display of city lights, a stunning view. Animals skitter across the road, I brake each time for the little creatures. The higher up the mountain I come, the closer I am to home, the more fear starts to creep up to me. Like a mountain lion searching out its pray in a small rabbit. Fear is hunting me down. My mind is running away from it, trying to ignore the tricks my eyes play on me. Dark trees lurk all overhead, there are no street lights of any kind up here. The only source of light comes from the bright headlights on my vehicle. Some nights the fog is so dense I have to find my way home by memory. Traveling at 10 MPH in suspense of running into another driver lacking in familiarity with the complex roads. Only a mile away from my home I come across the scariest corner of all. My eldest sister who is very spiritual, and always correct in her predictions, has informed me she fears this section of the drive the most. “I can feel evil here, its eyes kneading into me and watching my car as I quickly pass. Something terrible has happened at that corner, long ago.” She once said to me, dread in her gorgeous green eyes. Ever since then I have a terrible fear of that sharp crook in the road. Tonight I try my best to think happy thoughts as I round the corner. The fierce mountain lion almost always wins when in competition with a little bunny. So is the case with my fear. It wins. I am still fighting off my third cold unwanted chill as I approach my neighborhood. I wipe at my arms taking a stab at reducing the little goose bumps that have risen on my skin. I am two blocks from home, relieved that I have almost made it there I relax my stiff posture for a moment. Let my guard down. Up ahead, what is that? Is that a women in a white gown appearing distressed as she roams the empty streets? No. Once again my overactive imagination is at it. My neighborhood was built around ten years ago. It stands where an avocado groove used to grow. Those hired to nurture the groove also made residence on it. Around the proximity of where my garage is located today there used to be a mass of trailers, tents, and shanty huts where the workers and their families made their habitat. The avocado trees saw their last days on an arctic foggy morning. A young man who worked and lived on the land had a fight with his wife. The details are unknown to me. All I have heard is the man took the last breath from his wife, he murdered her. The tragedy struck property was than sold to a builder. And the rest is history. The women who was killed is still said to lurk the streets, her sobs echoing through the hills. As the story replays in my mind, I can imagine her scared, running away from her angered husband through the tall trees, leaves crunching beneath her bare toes. The man she once trusted abandoning her in one final brutal act. Now I make my way through her death grounds. Ugh. My goose bumps begin to return. I quickly plummet into my driveway. Pull my car into the spot right besides my mothers sleek black car. I reach for my purse, shut off the engine and hurry inside. Standing in the hallway my overweight cat waits for me, excited to see me home. I stroll into my bedroom, turning on the lights and TV. The sound of the television drowns out my scared thoughts. Although I am home, safe from all things that lurk in the dark of night I still have slight shutters of fear. My fourth and final chill explodes down my back as I climb beneath my red sheets and floral patterned comforter. My own home is said to be haunted. My family is the first to inhabit its walls. But somehow, despite its young age, it still breeds scary occurrences. My older sister has sworn on her life that something or someone has rubbed up against her on numerous occasions. Doors have creped open with no help of the wind. And one of my friends has been traumatized when she was awoken at 3:00 AM by an invisible hand holding down on her stomach. Her screams awoke the whole house. Never again has she been able to sleep here. My father finds all of our spooky ghost talk to be irrational fears and rather silly. If he is right than how would one explain the figure my mother has seen walking up and down the hallways on numerous occasions?
I close my eyes tight and beg for sleep to come, to take me away from the feeling someone is watching me, standing over my bed. Poway has a history, just as any place does. Many have lived here, died here, had glorious times and horrific times. Some may believe in a haunting, in the ability for a place to retain the energy that has passed through it, while others may find it not possible what so ever. I am one of the believers. Poway has seen many days, from its first settlers in the 1800’s to the technology filled families of today. If the hills and old homes could talk, oh the stories they could tell. Stories of pleasure and stories of pain. I drift to sleep. The TV still blaring while lighting up my dark room. A dark figure outside my window pears in, casting its gaze at my sleeping body. It morphs itself into my bedroom. Stands over my bed, watching me as I soundly sleep.