It was a raw morning in winter when I heard [this story] in the old house in my hometown. I sat beside the fire with my aunt. The raw weather chilled my interest [in] outdoor activities. The north wind [was] whistling in the drizzling rain. The doors and windows [rattled]. Everybody was out. Only [my] aunt and I were at home, so we [were] telling stories to kill the time.
In a soft voice, [my] aunt told this story [to me] slowly:
“It was also a chilly winter morning. I was a child [of about] your years. At that time, our big family all lived in a big old house in the countryside beside the mountains. It was a typical one just like other old houses in the [area]. It was [an] adobe house surrounded by adobe walls. The rooms, whose doors all faced the big yard in the middle, were built in a circle. Because the family was poor, we kids had to do manual labor in the fields all year round. Even [when we got] back from work, we had to do a lot of housework. What was worse, we were poorly fed and out at the heels. Life was tough [in] those days.”
With these words, [my] aunt couldn’t help sighing and staring at the warm fire. She was deep in thought. I [could see] the great satisfaction [in] her eyes. After a while [and] with a smile, she went on:
“[One] morning, I did the farm work as usual. It was bitterly cold as before and rained later [that day]. The icy rain and wind made me ill. I felt sick after the heavy work. As everyone was busy working, I struggled along the road to [my] home alone. When I was finally back at home, I was too exhausted to find my way to my room. So I pushed one of the rooms’ doors open and crawled onto the bed. Feeling extremely sick, I [soon fell] asleep, cold and hungry. An indefinite period of time later, I heard [the] light sound of [a] door opening. A girl around my age in [a] red dress came in with the sweetest smile I had ever seen on her lovely face. There was an [innocent] air about her. Gently, she stretched out her hands to me. It seemed that she wanted to play with me. As she came closer, I found a long narrow, bleeding cut on her forehead. The blood was flowing out. ‘Your forehead’s bleeding!’ I cried in terror and tried to help her.
“Suddenly, her eyes were filled with sorrow. Staring at her sorrowful eyes, I froze up. Everything became so blurred [and] veiled in mist. Gradually, she was farther and farther away from me and then disappeared at the end of the mist. I reached out my hands and tried to seize her hand. All of a sudden, I felt [as if I were] falling down from high [up]. Bump! I fell on the ground and woke up with a start. I found [that I] was lying on the ground. What had happened seems like a dream. I must have lost my balance and fell on the ground. Almost at the same time my mom, your grandmother, rushed into the room when she heard the sound and helped me onto my feet.
‘What are you doing here, dear?’ asked [my mom] in surprise.
‘Just [sleeping]. Why? I [was] sick and too tired to get to my room when I [came] back. So…’
‘So you [went to] sleep in this haunted room?’ cried [my mother] in terror.
‘What?’ I [couldn’t] be more astonished at that moment, for the room I slept in was a haunted room. Decades [before], one of my grandmom’s cousins [had died] in the room after an accident. The little girl was injured on her forehead. Afterwards, the room was haunted. Nobody has gone [into] the room for many years. What’s strange is that the girl whose forehead was wounded did wear a red dress on the day the deadly accident took place.”
Like last year, I asked students to call the oldest person in their families and to ask that person to tell them a story that they had never heard before. They then translated and told the story in English. While we’re away traveling, I thought I’d let my students tell their stories. To preserve their privacy, I have not credited the authors, but I have gotten their permission to let you listen in. The stories vary—sometimes simple, sometimes Earth shattering, sometimes otherworldly. I have not edited their stories unless I needed to help the flow. My edits are in brackets. [ ]