Back in the late summer of 2013, I wrote about a friend's account that her daughter was seeing someone who their family described as the '1 2 3 lady,' a horrible old hag of a woman who come to their 5-year-old daughter's window late at night , tapping to be let in, and whispering "1 .... 2.....3" while she does..
The story generated some interest, and I received some emails from readers saying that they thought this could be a reference to the 'old hag' of paranormal lore.
Someone must have been reading this because I received an email today concerning the 1 2 3 Lady description I offered. They sent me a link to this article which documents some beliefs that Mark Twain had concerning the paranormal, and in this case, witches. The article says, in part,
Witches also have a counting instinct which forces them to count all that they see. So a witch-riding can be avoided by leaving items in her path - a sieve, she will be forced to count all the holes; a broom, she will count all the straws. Some people scatter mustard seeds or sand throughout the house. The witch is caught before she has time to count each grain.
It was my reader's conclusion that my friend didn't see an old hag, but instead a witch.
But before we get those fires burning again like in Salem, consider a few things.
Since the article was written, I followed up with my friend. Her daughter was told to specifically tell the 1 2 3 Lady that she would not be permitted into the house. According to my friend, that happened--and the witch, hag, or whatever has not returned since early September.
Either a child's imagination led the entire thing to be made up--fiction in a young person's mind that turns into a scary reality.. Or there was a hag. Or witch. Or lady, tapping silently on that night time window whispering a count of 1, 2, 3..
I reserve judgement now just as I did then.
Kids' impressions of reality are often different from the realm of adulthood--but sometimes adults stop believing in things they once did as children. There's a borderline where reality meets the paranormal.. and the small thin line is constantly moving.
Was the 1 2 3 Lady real? We will never know.
But to one child, frightened in her bed at night, it was very real--and subsequently to her parents it became real as well, since they had to deal with the nightmare that ensued from it.
And in the end, while most parents tell their children earnestly, "there are no monsters under your bed," they won't be caught looking under their own..