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Wood Grain



Estimated reading time — 6 minutes

We had found the dresser at a yard sale, beaten and broken, but it was an artifact of the 1920s and my husband insisted we bring it home and fix it up. I thought nothing of this aside from the fact to be noted that the dresser was not for sale – it had practically been forced upon us at the mentioning of our interest when the words left my husband’s lips that day, “How much do you want for this?” Pretty shortly after the previous owner was frantically helping us load the goliath into our van and stammered a hasty, “Thank you!” as he turned and retreated back to his yard sale stand. We found this a bit odd, but we weren’t completely taken by the incident. He was just a strange young man.

My husband furiously set to work and had completed a beautiful restoration of our new bedroom object in less than a week’s time, working especially quickly on the weekend and luring me into the garage, blindfolded as usual, and taking the cloth off of my eyes to present its glorious new body to me. It curved in all the right places, its wood was now clean, pristine, and shiny, and the new handles on its drawers fit lovely. I gave him a kiss and told him there was nothing that he wasn’t able to fix up, and he blushed and said, “Aw, maw” and laughed. That night he was more than excited to enlist in my help for getting it upstairs to our bedroom, where we placed it almost right next to our bed. It looked perfect, we could see as we stood in the doorway and took in the new freshness that it brought to our room. Just perfect.

That night before I closed my eyes to go to sleep and switched off my light, I lay my head down next to my husband’s on our pillow and met his snoring face, giving him one last kiss on the tip of his nose as I usually did. I was about to close my eyes when I squinted and realized there was a shape in the wood grain on the side of the dresser. I almost let out a slight chuckle at myself but it was unmistakable, there was a shape of a footprint stamped into the wood. I hadn’t noticed it before but now it was clear as day. I shrugged it off as nothing, closed my eyes, and fell into a deep and wonderful slumber.

I was awoken in the morning by a bloodcurdling scream. It was the first of its kind that I had heard since an incident that took place when I was a little girl, where my brother had fallen out of a tree out in the front yard and dislocated his shoulder. He had called out in such agony that I thought he had been near death, but our parents assured me that he was going to be fine. This bloodcurdling scream woke me to life and my eyes darted back and forth across the room until I met eyes with my husband, who was now lurched forward in pain and horror. I flung myself out of my bed and ran to his side where my arms embraced him and I asked him what was going on, and he motioned to his foot with tears in his eyes. There was a huge nail sticking out of the wooden floorboards in which I had never seen before, and it was completely through his foot.

We spent the day in the hospital and his foot was wrapped as to keep the puncture wound from infection. He was told to keep off of it for a few days and allow it to heal as best as possible, which was near-impossible because after retirement my husband had taken on opening up his own saw sharpening service and so he always had constant customers coming in and dropping off their items for him to care for. He sadly accepted the news and said he would make some calls that afternoon to ‘let people down and give them the news.’ I just nestled my hands into his hair and told him it wouldn’t be long before he was back on his feet.

That first night home after his incident, we fell asleep in bed together but I was woken abruptly by an oncoming thunderstorm in the middle of the night. My eyes opened directly over my husband’s shoulder to notice the wood grain on the side of the dresser for the second time now. Where the shape of the foot had been marked in the grain, there now appeared to be a different shape – that of a tooth. I assumed that my eyes were playing tricks on me and I fell back to sleep with not a worry in my mind.

The next day I was tending to my husband frequently. In between doing wash and dishes and other house chores, I made him meals and rubbed his ‘good’ foot and brought him the newspaper when prompted. He really appreciated it. I cooked him up a fantastic lunch – chicken Alfredo and cooked spinach, one of his favorites. I placed the tray in his lap and turned the television to one of his favorite shows and he thanked me as I walked into the bathroom to start scrubbing the toilets as the next chore.

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His loud yells could have been heard across the entire neighborhood. My heart was in a complete flutter as I bolted out of the bathroom and down the hall which seemed even longer than it really was in such a panicked situation. “John! John!” I called out, and burst through the bedroom door, to find a mess of blood in his lap and his tray laying scattered on the floor, a mess of food everywhere. Now, given, John was getting older, but he was still in great shape. He was 55 with the mind of a 30-year-old, something we joked about often. He was still holding the fork in his hand but he was now glaring down at himself and raised his eyes to me to show me his mouth. There, in his other hand, were three teeth. They had all fallen out of the very front of his mouth. “I’ve NEVER lost a tooth in my age,” he murmured, shaking his head. “I need to go to the dentist, Paula.” He was shaking and he sat the teeth next to his bed on that dresser. That same dresser.

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I had trouble getting through the rest of the day. John asked around evening-time if I could escort him downstairs and onto the front porch where he sat frequently and watched the sunset. He asked if I wanted to sit with him but I just smiled and told him, “No, you need to enjoy the rest of your day in solitude, you’ve been having a lot of bad luck and I have things to take care of in the house.” He insisted that I take a break for once but there was work to be done. When I left him out there I worked quickly, running up the steps to the bedroom and over to the dresser. There was no insignificant designs in the wood grain and I checked it up and down for any unordinary signs but there was nothing ‘off’ about this dresser from what I was seeing. I had so many questions but the point being, it made me incredibly uneasy. And so I dismantled it with a hammer. And I didn’t stop beating it apart until it was in so many pieces that there would be an incredible mess to clean up.

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When John called upon me to take him back upstairs for bed, I did so, but on the way up I stopped him, lips trembling a bit for affect. “John, there was an accident with the dresser.”

He scratched his head and let out a short chuckle, asking, “What do you mean? What could have possibly happened?”

I told him a beautifully-crafted, long drawn-out story of how a bat had entered through the window when I was cleaning the bedroom, and so I grabbed the hammer off of the shelf and beat it to the ground, but first smashing the dresser to smithereens. He didn’t question me, though he gave me a few looks and one of them was the fact that this story had made him quite sad and uneasy. He had worked great lengths on the dresser and did not want this to be the truth, but sadly this is how it had to go.

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When we made it to the bedroom, he asked to see it and so I whipped the door open – and let out a huge gasp. There was the dresser, perfectly assembled next to our bed, once again. He burst into laughter and turned to me and said, “Why would you play a joke like that on me?! I really fancy our dresser, Paula.” And then I took him to bed, and I one-overed the dresser once more before I changed into my pajamas and hopped into bed with him.

I never wanted to worry my John; since we had been teenagers getting married at 19 years old, he had been my entire life. I had plenty questions about this dresser but I refused to allow him to see me get distraught over such a thing. We fell asleep talking about something in-depth but to this day I don’t remember the conversation. It was important at the time and to this day I wish that I could remember it because it was the last conversation I ever had with my John. As he talked and I peered over his shoulder, I could make out a new shape that night somewhere within the depths of the wood grain. It was a heart. I knew that the next day he would be having a heart attack, the first and last one of its kind to hit him. And this became true.

Credit To – Maggie Louise

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32 thoughts on “Wood Grain”

  1. Didn’t really make sense. A dresser that predicts the future? Seems like that was the result of some lazy brainstorming. And she smashed the dresser to pieces, came back and found it in perfect condition, and simply ignored it so she wouldn’t worry her husband? After its existence was causing him serious physical harm? Come on

  2. The killer goat

    Awesome but it ended too early it should’ve been longer to show what the wife does later keep writing though

  3. That is so sad. I would rate it a five because it is also scary. Thank you for writing this, it is the best one I have read today.

  4. Christopher Haynes

    Very well written! I like the POV and you did a great job with the narration. I wish I had a better picture of the main character’s home, but it was a great pasta. Keep at it!

  5. Really nice story. Nice idea with the glowing shapes in the dark. That’s something small and subtle that actually really creeped me out as a kid but hear in a horror stories much, so good job with that original and creepy idea. I have a few suggestions not because it’s bad or anything but because this concept has more potential than this story let on.
    1) Some people are accusing you of ‘thesaurus abuse’. I disagree. I think you’ve got a nice choice of descriptive words, it’s just that your descriptions are emphasising the wrong aspects. Instead of focusing on how beautiful the dresser was, how deeply and peacefully she slept and how the husband was disappointed that he couldn’t function normally with his injuries, focus on the pain, the suspense and the fear. That’s what people want to read in a horror story.
    When it comes to describing the husband’s injuries, go a little more gruesome to make us squeam a bit. I don’t mean add bucket loads of blood and guts, I mean emphasise what’s already there. e.g. the nail didn’t go through his foot, it tore through his flesh.
    2) I agree that the ending was a little disappointing. I think it would have been better if you described a terrifying heart attack scene and a rush to the hospital that was too late to save him. Just telling us the ending and having her peacefully accept fate left us hanging a little bit. Failing to destroy the dresser was an awesome build up, but not much of a climax.

    Other than that, nice story! Good work. =)

  6. My favorite element of the story is the character development. You are great at this. I feel we knew just enough about her; it was perfect. I love the way you write, and I hope I have the opportunity to read more of your work. Thanks!!

  7. Fun story. I liked it. Not much suspense or creepiness and it felt a tad unfinished but still an excellent story. My biggest concern was the hopelessness of Paula. This was her husband but she didn’t see fit to A) tell him what she was seeing, or B) if the dresser reassembled itself, why not try to destroy it again. Fire traditionally works good on wood. Would the dresser still have survived? It doesn’t make sense to me that Paula just gave up and let her husband die. That’s why it feels unfinished. She could have destroyed the dresser again. She could have burned it. She could have sought out the previous owner. She could have consulted some kind of paranormal or occult expert, or a priest. All in all, an excellent idea, with some slight execution problems. 6/10 Keep reading and writing!

  8. This could have been longer, but it’s fine as it is. :) That was an enjoyable read. Pretty predictable, but good nonetheless. :) Good work.

  9. Not a terrible read by any means, but the predictability detracted a great deal from the overall experience. Cursed objects are way overdone. Not to mention, that the setup for each “accident” became predictable after the foot incident. I say, try again. I would definitely read more of your work.

  10. I really enjoyed the premise and the general idea of the story, but I feel like it wasn’t very well-written. I have to agree with the thesaurus abuse and there were some very oddly-written sentences in there.

    However, I still enjoyed it. Good job.

  11. Why does every “cursed artifact” story have to include the obligatory “it was weird how anxious they were to get rid of it”

  12. Though a little tired, I did like the concept. However, I felt like the story could have benefited from better grammar, and a few more edits. Over all not bad!

  13. I didn’t like it. it could’ve been longer, grosser, more suspenseful and go into more detail about the phenomenon of this cursed dresser. maybe involve more characters.

    1. Alfred Frederick Dinglebottom

      If by “grosser” you mean more gory, I don’t think that would’ve been overly necessary for this pasta. It was good, gore would have cheapened this. When you think of the best horror movies in terms of genuine fear, very few of them contain a lot of gore. Watch the original pyshco film. The only real gore you see is when the blood goes down the drain in the shower. You don’t see the knife entering the girl’s body.

      1. just personal preference I guess. but I didn’t say that more blood would make or break the story. there were plenty of areas in which it could have used improvement and expansion and psycho was at least twice this good. both versions.

      2. it’s also true that reckless slaughter doesn’t automatically make a story or film scary and it has to be well placed to improve upon it, if you’re not even gonna try you might as well point the camera at the wall.

        1. Alfred Frederick Dinglebottom

          I wouldn’t compare this to psycho, they’re very different stories. I was merely using it as an example. The reason I only mentioned the original is because I haven’t seen the re-make.

          Gore sometimes works but only if the plot is strong. The Saw films, in my opinion, got it completely wrong.

  14. I hope my wife never just lies in silence knowing I’m going to die of a heart attack. At least she didn’t ~worry~ him, though. But seriously, that’s my only problem with this story, which is otherwise good.

    1. Alfred Frederick Dinglebottom

      If he had a fatal heart attack that was pre-determined by the dresser there probably was not a lot she could do. She could have taken him to the hospital but she’d be laughed at.

    1. Patrick I. Ricker

      Don’t stunt your writing because of bad advice; using large words or more elaborate descriptions is not bad! If it is befitting of the character then you need not worry, let the rabble grunt at one another in their mono-syllabic speech.

      With regards to the content of the story, I rather liked it. For my own curiosity I would have benefitted from knowing more about the devilish piece of furniture, but in the context of this story the lack of knowledge does not diminish the quality.

  15. This idea was original enough, but this pasta suffers greatly from what my writing teacher calls “dramatic thesaurus abuse,” which basically means that it reads like you were sitting there writing with a thesaurus in hand, trying to find more “poetic” or dramatic ways to replace simpler words that would have made more sense. For instance:

    “I shrugged it off as nothing, closed my eyes, and fell into a deep and wonderful slumber.”

    No one anywhere thinks or talks like that. It would have been easier, and less annoying to read, had your protagonist just said, “I shrugged it off as nothing and went to sleep.” Unless they are desperately fatigued, few people in the world would bother to describe going to bed on a normal night as a “deep and wonderful slumber.”

    And this is nitpicky, but: “He sadly accepted the news and said he would make some calls that afternoon to ‘let people down and give them the news.’” You use the term “the news” twice in the same sentence, and it makes your writing stutter. This isn’t a terrible pasta, but it would benefit greatly from some simplification and consideration of how people ACTUALLY speak and think. Sometimes blue eyes are just blue eyes, not shimmering crystalline azulean orbs of endless light and beauty.

    1. Alfred Frederick Dinglebottom

      I’m sorry but I disagree with your English teacher.

      I think people actually do often think and speak in that manner. In fact I know people who speak in that way. I think that the English language is a beautiful, wonderous thing, that should be utilised as such. I’ll always rate a story higher if it contains uncommon words. It shows thought and care for the work.

      Alf.

    2. I’ve seen thesaurus abuse, but this story had none of it. Thesaurus abuse is usually only an issue when the writer gives uncommon or lengthy words to characters who have previously only used very simple language or are far to young to be understanding more complex vocabulary.
      *
      The author was not writing the story as a nine year old boy telling his mother of the terrible things he sees in his closet at night. The author is writing the story as a woman, at least middle aged, telling of the strange events leading to her husbands death.
      She is fully qualified to say the word “slumber”. Even Winnie the Pooh says that.

      1. Alfred Frederick Dinglebottom

        The ratings the people have given us appear strange.

        I completely agree with you AppleWedge.

  16. I like this, but I feel it ended a bit too early. I would have liked to see it go on for maybe a paragraph or two more to show me how she reacts to this and what steps she takes. Does she sell it? Burn it? Live with it until it shows her own death? It just feels a bit unfinished. Besides that, I thought it was an interesting story, if a bit predictable. Creepypasta has taught me to never but anything at a garage sale that someone is too excited to get rid of. It is a kind of classic story, told well, and with mostly believable characters acting in reasonable ways. Although I’m not sure why the wife did not take any sort of proactive steps knowing he was going to have a heart attack. That seemed out of character to me. I think you did a really good job outlining their relationship without going overboard, and that really gave this story a lot of its emotional charge. It was a fun story to read!

  17. Can’t say I liked this one too much. It didn’t leave much to the imagination, and wasn’t creepy. Maybe it would have been if we learned more about the dresser itself. How was it making these things happen? Why was it?

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