Tuesday, April 19, 2005


As a little girl...

(Yes, I realize a lot of my stories begin this way. But, I believe in history repeating, in patterns and themes and formative years, so please, bear with me.)

As a little girl, I was personally haunted. The ghosts in my house would follow me to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Fear of them, more than once, led to my peeing of the bed. The trap door to the attic was located in the ceiling directly outside my bedroom, and the threat this posed trumped even the security of having my parents' bedroom right across the hall.

Under my bed lived an arm attached to a horrible hand that would blindly sweep from the darkness to grab my ankles. My closet was prime habitat for a number of beasts and was host ongoing paranormal activities. My drafty window, from which I could watch the wind rock the fishing vessels tied to the dock, provided only a thin shield of warped glass from the spirits of those lost at sea. Past residents of the house had scratched their names into the glass, somehow managing smooth cursive letters, and I was certain they'd never left.

As an adult, I am still a little haunted. Late at night, sometimes I still get spooked, although I no longer pee the bed. I swear. These days I have a new set of ghosts that get me out of bed more often than they keep me in.

Are the curtains too close to the electric heaters? Is the door locked? What's that noise? Did I set the alarm properly? Did you turn the heat down? What is that shadow through the curtains? Are people fighting outside again?

In the middle of one night, not long ago, I had one of those feelings. Something wasn't quite right. Despite the city cacophony, I detected unfamiliar sounds, rustling and dull, hollow bumps-in-the-night. I pulled back the covers and moved from window to window to discreetly observe nocturnal urban dwellers under the glow of yellow streetlights from the darkness in my home.

I saw a junkie desperately digging through his bag, and scavenging the ground around him for something imagined or lost. Assured that this was the cause of my uneasiness, I walked back to my bedroom, outside of which there is a large second-story balcony.
My reflection in the glass of the patio door was most unflattering, I mused.

Immediately following that thought, I realized it wasn't my image moving behind the blinds. I dropped to the floor not wanting this ghostly urban dweller to see me. I shook my significant other, who'd been snoring while I'd been ghost-hunting, to scare the trespasser away. While he rose in panicked confusion, I watched the man outside consider stealing a candle holder my sister gave me. Faced with the angry eyes of my elected protector, the trespasser dropped the item and jumped to the ground.

By the time we opened the window and ventured outside to take stock of what had happened, he was gone, and my heart was pounding. I didn't sleep well that night, which is unfortunate, because I had to get up early the next morning for work. I checked to make sure the alarm was set properly and tossed until daylight.

Feeling a little violated, a little less safe all day, I decided to treat myself to some comfort food on the way home. And, there he was. The ghost was sleeping on a bench in front of the cafe. The warm sun fell on his bronze, matted hair and further weathered his leathery skin. His pores were black and his clothes smelled of urine and alcohol. He was old. Seeing him so vulnerable, I realized I shouldn't be frightened of him. Instead I wondered how he managed to jump from such a height without hurting himself.

Nevertheless, I didn't want him trying it again, so I wrote him a note. Because he looked crazy, I thought it best to give the message a blasphemous higher-power slant (in both French and English of course, this is Quebec):

"I watched you last night my child. I know what you stole. You must repent and take your evil elsewhere, or I will never forgive you.

--Sincerely, God."

I taped the note to his chest, and walked a little lighter all the way home, glad to have the "exorcise".

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