Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spooking Myself


You're going to laugh about this -- and I even feel a little sheepish mentioning it -- but I kind of spooked myself yesterday with the story about The Ghost and the Gabled Window. I woke up early this morning while it was still dark, and passing the stairs on the way to the kitchen, half expected to see a faint specter on the upper landing. I knew this was likely to happen; after all, I wrote it during daylight hours and everyone knows ghosts don't go a-prowling until after midnight. What was there to worry about?

But this is New England and a lot of history has occurred up here. Something like ten generations have lived and died in the very spot where I make my home and at least one person died in a fall from the hayloft in my barn. Still, even if there really were such things as ghosts, I don't think any encounters I might have would be malevolent. I say that because this has never struck me as a place where unhappiness and resentment could take root.

Mystery, sure. What lies beneath that heavy metal door in the woods? Is it a root cellar or does it harbor Revolutionary War treasure? Nicolas Cage hasn't knocked on my door lately, so I doubt it's the latter, but one never knows. This is also one of the two or three oldest houses in town, yet it fails to appear in any of the local histories I've read. What was it about its inhabitants that they spent their entire lives going unnoticed? There are questions, all right.

But ghosts? I'm not saying I believe in them and I'm not saying I don't. Let's put it this way, there's just a part of me that hasn't outgrown being impressionable. Call it the residual of childhood or too much pumpkin eggnog before bed, but I still retain the ability to scare myself. I'd like to say I wouldn't mind the company of a late night chat with one of my historical predecessors -- on a purely intellectual level, that is. In reality, you'd probably see me running for the kitchen cabinet, hunting for the garlic, and muttering, "Where's the crucifix? It's got to be here somewhere!"

I know, those are for vampires, but what else am I supposed to do, call Bill Murray?

(Image by Helga's Lobster Stew via Flickr)
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