addy held the picture up for the entire class to see. The image of a shadowy, ghost-like figure stood alone on her page as she rotated it around the room. She wanted to make sure every student was able to see what she was talking about. Alex wondered if Maddy had been waiting for a reason to share this story. She held back a smile as the class concentrated on her peculiar pencil sketch.
“Who is that person in your drawing, Maddy?” Mr. Humblewick asked.
Maddy pulled the picture back and placed it carefully on her lap. “She never told me her name, but she lives in the house on Screaming Ridge Road.”
Mr. Humblewick blinked his eyes several times as his face began to contort. “That’s impossible. No one lives in that house. It’s all boarded up and falling apart.”
“Not when she was living there.”
“But you just told me she lives there now.” Mr. Humblewick paced back and forth in the center of the room. The students continued to all lean forward in their seats.
“She still lives there with her family,” Maddy said, raising her voice slightly. “At least, I think so; I never saw the dad or the children.” She began neatly rolling up her drawing while adjusting herself in her chair.
Mr. Humblewick turned to Maddy and narrowed his eyes. “But I just told you it’s impossible, there has been no one living there since I was alive, and I’ve lived in this town all my life.”
“They’ve been living there for a long time,” added Maddy. “A real long time.”
Mr. Humblewick seemed uncertain about continuing the conversation. Perhaps he wasn’t expecting Madelyn Featherton to share such a crazy story with the class, and then try to convince them it was true. Alex watched as the teacher walked quietly around the classroom, stopping in front of a piece of chart paper posted by the window. All that was written was the title: My Urban Legend. Mr. Humblewick looked at it for a moment, then turned back to Maddy. “Is the woman in your picture still alive?”
Alex leaned forward in his chair. He had never seen Mr. Humblewick become so frustrated. He wondered if Mr. H. had some sort of connection to that house. Maybe he had been there before. Maybe he went there as a kid. Whatever it was, he definitely wasn’t ready for what Maddy was going to say next.
“I’m not sure,” she whispered.
“What do you mean, you’re not sure?” Alex asked, involving himself in the dialogue. “How can you not be sure if she is alive?” Alex turned to Henry and shook his head.
“I hear ya, buddy.” Henry nodded and winked at Alex. “You’re either one, or the other. You can’t be unsure.”
“Boys, please raise your hands next time,” Mr. Humblewick asserted.
“Really? Why can’t we ask Maddy questions ourselves?” pleaded Alex. “You always said we didn’t have to raise our hands.”
Murmurs from the class began to fill the room as Mr. Humblewick cleared his throat. “Because, well, okay, you’re right. Just make sure you ask good questions.” He turned to Maddy, “How can you not be sure if she is alive?”
Alex rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair.
“Maddy, perhaps the person in your picture is simply a ghost. If that’s the case, then we all know that ghosts are not real, which, once again, places your story in the ‘Urban Legend’ category.” Mr. Humblewick stepped back to his chart paper and pointed at the title.
Maddy shut her eyes tightly. “I don’t think so.” Her voice softened to a whisper. “It was a few weeks back. I was driving; I mean, my mom was driving me home early from a…birthday party. We had to leave early ‘cause a storm was coming. It was the day of the big tornado.”
Murmurs from the class quickly erupted as they all began whispering to each other about the tornado that hit the town of Timpleville. Alex had accidently wandered out into the storm that day. The police had found him taking shelter in an old barn seconds before the tornado ripped off its roof. The reporters had a field day asking Alex questions about his near-death experience. However, he never told them about the creek and the mysterious woman who pulled him out. He wanted to save that memory. After all, the media didn’t need to know everything.
Maddy waited patiently for the class to calm down, and then continued. “As we were driving back, the rain came down so hard that we had to stop on the side of the road. It sounded like millions and millions of tiny rocks falling from the sky. It was nuts. Then, when the wind picked up, it got really bad. At first, small twigs started smacking along the side of our car as they blew across the road. Then, branches began bouncing off the hood and roof. Before we knew it, a tree fell right in front of us. We couldn’t go anywhere.”
Alex knew exactly what Maddy was talking about. He’d had nightmares at least two or three times a week since that storm.
“As we sat in the car, a strange thing happened,” Maddy continued. “A little cat jumped on top of our car and began scratching at the window. When we tried to let it inside, it ran away toward a light at the top of a ridge.”
Alex began fidgeting in his chair. He too had seen a cat that day during the storm, a white cat. It had guided him out of the severe weather, where he ended up taking refuge in an old barn. Alex learned a few days later that the animal belonged to Mr. Ravi, the custodian. It had run away over the summer after his wife had died. For some reason, he was okay to just let it go. “Was it a white cat?”
“Yeah, it was,” Maddy replied, giving Alex a double take. “It was a white cat.”
“Did you follow it?” Henry asked, glancing at Mr. Humblewick.
“Yeah, we did. We followed it up the ridge toward the light. That was when we came across the house, the house on Screaming Ridge Road.”
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