Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spectre

When I was a child, I had ghosts for friends. Although I was sure of it at the time, I've lost that sense of magic as I've grown, as we all tend to do, and now I'm left explaining it all away...childhood whimsy and nothing more. I wonder now, which is reality...the way I see it now, or the way I saw it then. It can't be both, can it?

There was an abandoned house across the street from the house I grew up in. The curtains in the upstairs windows would move of their own accord. Sometimes at night, I'd see a light or two dancing inside. Sometimes there were shadows that seemed to peer out the window...dark formed figures where their shouldn't have been anything. A perfect playground for an excitable imagination.

It was a girl who I first felt or saw or imagined. I can't remember her name now, but I knew it then. She wore clothes from another time. Her dress was red, always the same. She wore fancy shoes, too. Her family had died. All of them. Mother, father, brother, and a set of twins...a boy and a girl, toddlers. I knew their names, too. I knew them. I remember drawing pictures of their family. I always thought they were murdered, although I never knew for certain. Sometimes they would be near and then there would be this terrible feeling and they would be gone so quickly. I'd be left with a racing heart, the quiet suddenly pressing in on me. It was strange, like the monster that stole their lives was still chasing them, like they were forever tethered to the terrible thing that had happened, destined to be on the losing end of an eternal battle. When she would return there was always the weight of it between us, her sad and stoic silence and my quiet curiosity, the questions I wouldn't ask and she wouldn't want to answer if I did. The complexity of emotion leaves me wondering how much of it really could have been imagined at such a young age. But, of course it was imagined. It must have been.

I don't remember much about it all, I haven't thought of it in years and years. It is just another of the many things that fades into the background scenery of childhood, but I do remember the feelings...the peace of the kindly ghost friends, the terrible feeling that seemed to chase them away, the heavy silence when I would see them again. It all seems so distant and impossible to my grown up mind; glorified imaginary friends, a brilliant figment of my imagination. In retrospect, it is more than a bit unsettling, too. I mean, what kind of child has dead kids for imaginary friends? I suppose there was something a little beautiful about it, too, dead children who can laugh and play and dance among the living, still nestled with their siblings and parents...a second chance to enjoy what was taken from them much too soon. Maybe it was my childish way of reconciling the thought that children could die in the first place. I can't even remember how long they were around for now, but I remember wondering where they had gone when they left, wondering if that awful feeling had swallowed them up for good. Now I wonder if it was my own march toward adolescence that swallowed them up for good, the door slowly closing on the years of magic and imagination, of innocence and faith.

Today in the bookstore and I kept seeing the tip of a child's shoe on the ground in my peripheral vision while reading, like a child was standing just out of my line of sight, watching me. When I looked up from my book to check, I saw nothing. As I went back to reading, as soon as it slipped my mind, I would see it again. I had this odd feeling and then the strangest thought came to mind...my ghosts. Just like that I was a little child again, magic twinkling in my eyes. I laughed at myself, at that crazy kind of thought, wondering where in the world it could have come from. It has been more than a decade since I've thought about any of it. I shook my head and went back to reading. Seconds later I heard my name drawn out in the tiniest of whispers. I sat bolt upright in my chair and scanned the room...empty. Then I settled back into the chair with the book, smiling to myself that the ghosts of the past, whether real or imagined, still know where to find me.

29 comments:

Becca said...

Woah! That is too cool! I wonder if she'll be back!

PJ said...

What a fascinating story!

Hetha said...

I love this kind of stuff. I've had a handful of ghost experiences living in this town and it's actually been on my mind lately as we look at homes in preparation for a big move. We looked at a home last week that was pre-civil war era. I don't know that I can move into a place with that much baggage though....

Kristin said...

That is crazy, Kyla! I never knew you were friends with dead kids. But wow...you told that story so well.

crazymumma said...

ooooohhhh. imagine a long shuddering breath.

you have sort of freaked me out.

That said. I have no idea if ghosts are real or not, were yours in your home, or anywhere that you happened to be?

nomotherearth said...

OK, now I'm a bit creeped out. It doesn't help that I'm sitting along in a dark house reading this story. It's a lovely story, but I'm a fraidy-cat about these things..

Anonymous said...

What a neat story!

Love, Cori, Kate and Luke

flutter said...

I totally knew this was in you.

LisaStinnett said...

This is such a neat story. I wanting it to keep going and going and going...let us know if the story continues!

Beck said...

Spoooooky! And beautifully written, too. My favorite kind of post!

Christine said...

a little part of me wants to believe in those ghosts, and the innocent little girl who befriended them. whose to say they weren't real? whose to say they don't live with you still, watching, protecting, dancing with your own little ones.

loved this post, kyla.

Sarcasta-Mom said...

Wow, what a great post. I've always believed in ghosts, so this just gave me a great little chill.

Bea said...

What a post!

I really want to look into the history of that house across the road, find out if there really was a family with twins and a little girl...

Liana said...

Wow- this gave me chills!
Beautifully written and fascinating.

There are just too many stories like this to discount all such experiences as simple whimsy. There was (and is?) definitely something real going on...and so much we don't yet know about our world, so much unexplained.

Do let us know if she visits you again!

Mad said...

I LOVE this post. I love the way it blends your supernatural inclinations with your rational self. I love the way it leaves the door open to possibility. I also love the way that you didn't mention your own children once and, yet, all I kept thinking was "she remembers it. She remembers the visceral importance of fear in childhood. She will be such a great mom to have around when her own kids experiment in these liminal places."

Lisa b said...

there is more to this world that we can explain. that is for sure.

Jennifer H said...

I loved this. Part of me wishes quite desperately that I would see something, someone, like that. (And I watch Ghost Hunters every week)

Your telling of it gave me chills. Magic.

Katie said...

I'm more curious what brought them back to you then anything.

womaninawindow said...

First, this is brilliantly written. Secondly, I don't know but things happen sometimes, don't they?

jen said...

i wonder too.

NotSoSage said...

Wow. That is so deliciously sweet and creepy at the same time.

~aj~ said...

Whoa, this post leaves me speechless.

Fascinating story and beautifully written, Kyla.

natalie said...

WOW!

slouching mom said...

beautiful post.

Janet said...

That post gave me delicious little shivers.

Ben & Bennie said...

No chills here. I'm actually jealous that you and Ben have that ability. I know you've read about his angel friends visiting. I suspect it is the same thing.

that is just too cool!

motherbumper said...

In order to raise a preschooler, I'm a firm believer that one must get back in touch with those special memories of childhood - the ones where your magical powers still worked. This is required along side vodka and chocolate. Yup, that's how you deal with preschoolers.

Beautiful post Kyla.

Don Mills Diva said...

How did I miss this the first time around?

Great and creepy, but in a good way...

Jaden Paige said...

What an awesome story!!

I used to imagine much the same sorts of things. I had a cemetary in my backyard growing up, and I would always wonder what happened to those kids with the tiny tombstones back there. I felt as if I had a connection with them.

I've come to believe that children are just more perceptive- and open to believing- than us adults. Doesn't mean you made them up, just that you grew up and lost touch with them...