Friday, October 28, 2011
My Ghost Story
I love ghost stories as well as anyone. My favorites are "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James and "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson.
We once lived in a haunted house. I would wake up to see someone--or something-- standing at the side of the bed. My husband and sons backed me up on this, for at one time or another they all had heard or seen or something they couldn't describe.
My most vivid encounter happened on a beach in midsummer. We were vacationing on St. Simons, an island off the coast of Georgia. We took a day trip to Jekyll Island to see the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where injured turtles are nursed back to health. Told that there would be a turtle walk that night, we decided to return in hopes of seeing one of these creatures crawl out from the sea to lay her eggs.
Our little group set out about nine o'clock. We walked along the beach, but according to our guide, there were no turtles around and about that evening. We had about decided to turn back when a jeep drove up. There were two rangers aboard and they proceeded to give us an impromptu lecture. As I listened, I became aware of someone standing close by my side. Too close.
After a few minutes I turned to give this person "The Look" to let her know she was invading my space, but there was no one there. I say she, because I had a distinct mental image of a fortyish woman, rather stocky and about shoulder-height to me.
I returned my attention to the stories the rangers were telling, but the sense of this woman standing so close as to be all but skin to skin distracted me. I looked again, but the nearest person--a man--was a good 18 inches away.
The sensation was so strong, however, that I moved to the other side of my husband, where I enjoyed the rest of the lecture in peace. The strangest thing about this encounter was that I was not one bit afraid. Annoyed and irritated, yes, but I never felt the least twinge of fear.
I often wondered if this woman was as pushy when she was alive as she was as a ghost. I imagined her as the kind of woman who edged ahead of you in line and elbowed her way to the front of the sales table. Maybe she saw us standing there and came to see what we were looking at and was trying to get closer, not quite shoving me out of her way.
Lately, I had another thought. What if she had died on that particular stretch of sand and was unable to leave the scene of her death? In that case, she was not invading my space, but we were invading hers.
Either way, I swear to this day that I physically felt somebody next to me when my eyes could see nothing but air. I leave you with this quote from Shakespeare:
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.