The other night I was at a good friend's place sharing a fine meal (which means I didn't make it) and good wine (I may have bought that) and the subject of ghosts came up, as it tends to. I'm always surprised at how much credence ghosts are given by even the most logical of 21st century adults. Perhaps we're just looking for something to replace Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the Queen of England and the Tooth Fairy .
If you haven't noticed, I am a sceptic. If I can see it, smell it, hear it or taste it, it may or may not exist – I'd need more proof.
And then there was that thing in Massachusetts that night ...
About twenty years ago, (crikey, I've got to an age where I can say, 'about twenty years ago' and not be talking about my childhood), after several months of travelling, I was staying with a friend I'd met whilst backpacking the year before in Europe. She lived in a very old house, by American standards, just outside of Boston and I was sleeping in a room on the third floor.
During my first night, I had a visitor.
I awoke in the wee hours quite clear headed (I'd had little, if any, alcohol that night and gone to bed early) to find a girl of about eight-years-old or so sitting on the end of my bed. There was nothing remarkable about her except for her dress — it belonged in a Jane Austin novel. So, I'm dreaming, right? But I'm here to tell you, this visitation is as real as any memory I have. I was startled of course, but only because there was a little girl on the end of my bed, not because she might be the spectral remains of one who'd succumbed to grisly demise centuries before. I said Hello and asked for her name, as you do when you meet kids. She looked at me silently for a long time, long enough for me to shift uncomfortably. Then she smiled and turned to the window. I remember looking to the window too, keeping her in my periphery.
It was morning, the girl was gone and I went down the stairs to breakfast and said nothing about my nocturnal visitor.
The next night frightened me more. Again, true as any memory, human eyes watching me though the window. Again, after several minutes the occurrence ended and the sun was shining. I kept all this to myself too.
The third night was without specific incident, but I did sleep fitfully. The following morning at breakfast (my last as I was moving on that day) my hosts were exchanging glances like they were sharing a secret. "How'd you like the room?" asked one. "Sleep all right?". So now I'm suspecting I might have been the victim of a practical joke. I wasn't going to give them the satisfaction. "Fine thanks. Why do you ask?" She tells me that I am the only person to have lasted more than a night in that room.
Well, cheers for putting me in the boogyman boudoir!
So that's the story I told the other night at dinner. Of course there were a few other stories to follow, some quite a bit freakier than mine. I know I was I dreaming those nights because I must have been — the manifestations of an overstimulated, insufficiently rested mind. Still, I enjoy people's reactions.
Ghosts don't exist, but I enthusiastically invite you to prove me wrong. Have you got an eerie story to share? I'd love to hear it. I'll dismiss ghosts, aliens and monsters as folly, but like everyone else, I'll really enjoy the ride.