Magnolia Avenue Elementary in California: for 12-year-old me, that school was the furthest thing from normal. Rumors flew thick and fast about Magnolia – some people said that before it was a school, it was a mansion, later destroyed to build a mental institution. Death seemed to have its hand on the mental institution, because it was soon turned into a cemetery. Some tales claimed that the school was built right on top of the cemetery without the dead bodies being removed.
The stories were real enough to me. I avoided being alone as much as possible, but for a shy, lonely fifth-grader like me, it was nigh impossible to always travel with someone. Everywhere I went through the hallways, I could feel gazes on me. Sometimes, an invisible hand would touch me, or a voice would whisper my name. No matter how hard I looked, I could never see anyone there.
One day, I raised my hand in class to ask if I could use the restroom. No one was in the bathroom; I made sure of that before I settled in to relieve myself. As I was wrapping up, I heard the door slam. I peered around the edge of the swinging door, but saw nothing – until the lights began to flicker.
Then I saw the shadowy figure of a girl. She began to talk in a sing-song voice, and I stood there and listened to her. Fear paralyzed me, but curiosity kept me from overcoming that terror. She told me how she died, and then she moved her hand to indicate the ceiling. I knew what I would see there, and I didn’t want to follow her gesture, but it was as if there was an invisible string attached to my head. There she was, her dead body, dangling in the middle of the bathroom, swinging gently.
Footsteps interrupted my horrified observation, and I jerked to see that the girl was gone. Some of my classmates came in, gossiping and giving me strange looks. I hurried back to class, vowing never to return to that bathroom.
I found another restroom near the cafeteria, and for a while, I was able to go in peace. Then my friends sniffed out the story about my terrifying experience and, knowing I was prone to such fears, decided to dig up another tale of woe.
They told me that a girl went crazy in one of the bathrooms – though no one seemed to know which it was – and that before she hung herself in the big tree right outside, she was raped by the school janitor. The cruel man then locked her in the bathroom for a long weekend, without food or water and only her thoughts to keep her company.
Her thoughts became her reality: soon after the janitor let her out (after forcing her to swear she would never tell, on pain of death), she would scream randomly, pointing at mirrors all throughout the school. She saw something there, she would desperately tell anyone who would listen. After everyone rejected her story, she climbed into the tree, tied a rope around her neck, and hung herself.
It was the story of the girl from the first bathroom. I led my friends back there and we scoured the mirror. After a while, I spotted a black dot, which my friends claimed shifts spots every time you return and look in the mirror anew.
We all had our own theories about the spot. Some of us thought it was the soul of the girl, trapped forever with her demons to haunt her. Others said it was the devil’s spot, trying to claim another young soul in that bathroom.
At any rate, we stayed out of there.