When I was younger, I had an imaginary friend who lived in this tiny room/attic space. I was an only child so I usually ended up playing alone. My parents would always say Rosemary was an imaginary friend. “Oh, she’s just made up,” My mom would tell me.
Rosemary and I would crawl into the small closet/attic space in my bedroom and play for hours. I vividly remember her telling me stories, although I have absolutely no recollection of what those stories were about. I just know that even though I was a small child, they were very real and intense.
Rosemary would want to do mischievous things and when I’d get into trouble, I’d try to explain that it was Rosemary. Of course no one believed me.
The house was built around the turn of the century, I believe in 1901. It had been in the same family for several generations. We did not own the house but were renting it from my dad’s co-worker. We had just relocated to the town because my dad had a new job. He traveled a lot and it just so happened one of his co-workers had this house which had belonged to a great-Aunt or something.
I remember a cherry tree in the backyard. Rosemary liked that spot and suggested at some point that we dig in the ground at the base of the tree. I was a little kid but managed to find a shovel in the detached tool shed and started digging. When my mom came outside, she got really upset about it.
“Rosemary has to go away,” she told me.
“But mom, she lives here. In my room. She doesn’t have any place to go,” I told her.
My Mom was clearly annoyed, “I know you’re lonely. You’ll make some new friends when school starts but right now you’ve got to stop pretending with this Rosemary business!”
At some point, later on, my parents had a bbq and invited a lot of people from my dad’s office. Larry, the guy who owned the house, came. Somehow Rosemary’s name came up and he turned white as a sheet.
“Rosemary?” He asked, stammering.
My mom sighed, “Oh yeah its Sera’s imaginary friend…”
“She lives in the tiny closet in my room,” I said.
Rosemary had actually lived in the house at one point. Larry explained that the little girl, who would’ve been a great Aunt, went missing when she was 8 years old. There was a lot of speculation about what happened to her. Some gossip within the family suggested she had been murdered by someone close perhaps her own father or her brother. Larry said it was a touchy subject that no one really brought up much among his family. He seemed really overwhelmed by my stories about Rosemary.
I told him she wanted me to dig at that cherry tree. Larry hired some workers to bring a mini-excavator to the house a few days later and they began digging up that area.
Eventually we moved quickly and without much warning. I left Rosemary behind and never got an explanation on what happened. I was a kid and not privileged to those kinds of decisions. I almost forgot about Rosemary and the whole situation until a few days ago.
When I made a comment to my mother about my imaginary friend, she grew very uncomfortable.
“What is it?” I asked, “You don’t remember that?”
My mom swallowed, “No, I remember. I have never forgotten Rosemary.”
“Rosemary,” I said. I had almost forgotten her name. Hearing it brought back so many memories of the dark haired girl who always wore a grey dress.
“Honey, do you know why we moved out of that house?” My mom asked.
I shrugged, “I just figured you guys decided to buy this place.”
“Honey, your dad and I moved out of there after Larry dug up the backyard. The remains of his great-Aunt were buried by that cherry tree. They believe she had been murdered and put there years before. When we found out what happened and you were always going on and on about the little girl in your closet, we had to get out of that house.”
After hearing that story I did some research and found the burial site for Rosemary Wittekind. She’s resting near her mother and father in a church cemetery nearby.
Today I paid my old friend a visit.