Monday, November 12, 2012

Ghost Stories

Ghost sitting next to a little girl in costume, Vaux-le-Vicomte
When I was in college, I lived in a dorm with a kitchen and a bathroom in the basement. From my first day there, I heard all sorts of ghost stories, but I never put much stock in what people told me. No such thing as ghosts, right?

My junior year, I used to spend a lot of time with my friend J. She and I sometimes shared cans of soup or batches of popcorn, but this one particular day, we decided to whip up a Chef Boy-ar-dee pizza from a kit. We took everything we needed all the way down the hall to the opposite end of the dorm, then down two flights of stairs to the basement. As usual, I left my door open. I had nothing worth stealing, and it made it easier for me.

Once we got there and started looking at the things we needed to do, I realized I'd forgotten my can opener. I went back up to my room to get it... and found the door to my room not only shut, but locked. Now it would be easy enough to say that the door had simply closed because of a draft and locked when it shut... but no. These doors had deadbolts that could only be locked with a key... or from inside, by hand. There were transom windows over the doors which made it fairly easy to play pranks on our friends... but mine had been painted shut and was still very stuck.

I spent quite some time searching for our "Resident Assistant" who had the right to borrow the passkey from the housemother. But she wasn't around anywhere. Then I tried to find the housemother, who was gone for the day. After much impatient waiting, she came back and I asked her to let me into my room. She chided me for losing my key. I assured her that if she opened my door, I'd show her exactly where my key was... I always kept it in the drawer in my desk. She was pretty surprised to see that my key was exactly where I'd promised it would be.

Now I didn't have a roommate to pull jokes on me... and the passkey had been safely in the purse of the housemother, in her possession, all day. But my door was locked... either with a key... or from the inside. I never found a solution to how my door was locked that day...

But there were three nights in a row, when, at precisely 3 a.m., I was awakened by a very ceremonious knock on my door. And each time, I went to the door and opened it to find no one there. I checked the vacant rooms and listened at doors for telltale giggles, but never found any explanation for that either. After the third night, I spent the night in my friend J's room. At 8 a.m., I heard a knock at the door and saw her get up and go to the door and listened to her speaking at length with someone. Of course, later, when I asked her who'd stopped by, she told me she hadn't been up.

A friend of mine, C., my best buddy since we were 7 years old, rented a house from DT, a mutual friend of ours. It was old. She told me about awakening one night when someone grabbed her around her waist. She was terrified, but came up with her elbow flying back to inflict maximum damage. There was no one there.

 This was the same house where I went to stay with her for a couple of weeks. On a Sunday afternoon, I was waiting for my boyfriend. I fell asleep in the middle of the floor waiting for him. It was hot, and so I had the screen latched and the wooden door was left open. I awoke to a gentle, loving tug on my shoulder. Groggily I wondered how my boyfriend had managed to get inside... but once again, as you can imagine, there was no one there.

 Another time, when my friend had her boyfriend over, I slept on the screened-in balcony in a hammock. Sometime in the middle of the night, I "awoke" to know that one of them had come out for air, or to go the toilet, or something, and was standing there watching me sleep. I felt safe and secure and didn't worry at all. I was sure it was my friend C. Again, in the morning, they both denied having left the room.

 Also in this house, I brought my little garden of potted plants. I placed them all around the porch facing the south and watered them faithfully. One day, while C. was in the kitchen doing dishes, she heard a horrible cacophany of breaking glass. Her first thought was for my precious plants. She went dashing out to see the damage the wind had done... but everything was fine. Not a leaf out of place. When I came home, we searched the sidewalk and the street, we searched the vacant first floor of the house... and we found not the first bit of broken glass, anywhere.

 Funny how all her experiences were aggressive or hostile, and all mine were sort of curious and/or friendly. All of that can be explained away if someone really wants to, I'm sure. But it still gives me chills to think about it.

 Even worse, though, was when my friend J. got married and moved into an old house in our hometown. Apparently the owner/architect (by the time she rented it, deceased) had been terribly proud of this house built to withstand hurricanes. And it had been remodeled before she rented it, also from DT. Before her baby was born, she and her husband spent a great deal of time preparing the nursery. She had no A/C in the house, but she said that when she went into the nursery, it was like ice, though the temperature outside was a hot and humid 95° F (35°C). Their dog slept every night just outside on the porch under the bedroom window. One night, her husband woke to strange sounds and saw a strange face looking in at him through that window... right where the dog slept. Of course when he stepped out to investigate, the dog was there, sleeping soundly.

 But the worst was after the baby came. They had an 11x14 photo of him hanging in the hall. One day they came home from church to find the photo on the floor... which one could understand... things do fall, sometimes. But not only was the frame splintered and the glass shattered; the photo itself was ripped apart into hundreds of tiny pieces. They moved out, immediately.

 Explain it away... but you'll never persuade me that it was all "nothing." Happy Halloween!

No comments: