Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

With Halloween approaching a friend posted a ghost story challenge I began delving into my resource of strange happenings in my life. I am not sure I would openly declare that I believe in ghosts like seen in movies like Ghost Busters. Or even like those represented in Amityville Horror or Poltergeist I or II. But then how to you represent on the screen the chill that run down your spin when you encounter something eerie but unexplained and unexplainable.

And that is the difficulty with writing a ghost story; how to depict the feeling without making everyone break out laughing.

I think we have all, if we are tuned into our feelings at all, walked into a house we feel immediately uncomfortable in. For me that was first the McCann house on the hill. Ann, the daughter, was a friend of mine and I was invited into the noteworthy house behind the mountain. It had been built by a man for his opera singer wife. One room was especially for her practice. It was huge with balcony and a whole wall of glass looking out over the valley. When first I tried to walk in this room I was stopped literally at the door.

No hands holding me back, but a definite feeling of not being wanted. I had to make a conscious choice to lift first one foot than the other over the threshold. Ann, sitting at her easel across the room, was laughing. Evidently about one of ten people had that response upon first entering the room where the soprano had died after a long battle with cancer.

I have became very aware of houses that have a friendly feel and those that do not. But the McCann house was not my first experience with sensitivity to the dead or the dying. Early on, my mother told me, I had an uncanny knack of telling people they were going to die. I saw something dark behind their eyes. I soon learned adults did that welcome those pronouncements. I think it is a family trait because Mother never told me I was wrong just that it was not polite to blurt it out.

My niece at three claimed to have had several bedside chats with her grandfather in the weeks after his death. Mother called me on the night of the day she died and left me a message saying that she loved me. It was Thanksgiving and I had been out to dinner and played the phone message with its time signature when I came back home. I looked at the clock and decided it was too late to call her back. And it was literally to late. Hours later my sister would call to say Mom was dead. It was only later when my sister and I compared times that I realized Mom was dead when she left the message.

I have lived in several occupied houses. Mostly those have been inviting spirits. And by spirits I mean a sense of warmth or hostility or just a presence. The house I live in now is very clean but the ghost story that follows in the next post is about the house on Orchard Road. It was definitely a house with a bad aura. And the scariest of all my experiences with the other side. It was not an easy story to write.