I was seven when we moved into the house. It was a huge place—a mansion, really. I remember tiptoeing through the rooms like it was a museum, afraid to touch any of the ornate furniture.
My parents got it for a ridiculously low price. Mom thought it must mean the house was a lemon, but Dad’s a contractor, and he checked the whole thing out himself. I guess the reason it was so cheap was because people thought it was haunted. Things would happen in the house… furniture would move, messes would be made that no one in the house saw happen. It spooked people. The house had been relisted seven times in the past five years.
My parents don’t believe in things like that, so it didn’t stop them from snapping the house up. Little things did start to happen, but usually they just blamed me for it. It wasn’t me. It was him.
I liked to call him Gimlet. We’d lived in the house for almost six months when I first saw him. He was a tiny little man, maybe eight inches tall, with disproportionately wide hips and an oversized nose—everything else about him was thin and bony. He was a very strange little man.
He was angry when I discovered him, toppling over the bobbins of thread in my mother’s sewing room. He screamed at me in a language I didn’t understand, jumping up and down in a rage. I think he was mad that we’d come and lived in his house without asking him.
I tried to tell my parents about Gimlet, but they thought I was making up stories. When I showed my mother the sewing room, she folded her arms and gave me a lecture about how I should never blame things on other people—especially imaginary ones.
After that, Gimlet wouldn’t let me sleep at night. He’d come in and pull my hair and pinch my nose and make a ruckus, right next to my ears. I didn’t know what to do. I tried telling Mom about him again, but she was still mad about the sewing room, and she just ignored me.
And then it hit me. Maybe Gimlet wasn’t so bad… maybe I just wasn’t treating him the way I should be. I was a Girl Scout, after all… I knew what Brownies were. Brownies were helpful creatures. I didn’t know if Gimlet was a Brownie, but it gave me an idea.