Saturday, 30 October 2010

Hallowe'en


This is True.

You have to know people well before you can tell them that you think you have seen a ghost. I've lived with my husband for many years, but even so I took my time before asking him, in a deceptively casual manner, if he'd seen anything pass through the corner of our kitchen.
We had recently moved house to an old cottage that had  been extended by previous owners, so that our kitchen is sited on land that would formerly have been garden or field. We were involved in a considerable amount of work, removing and repositioning internal walls to improve the layout of our new home. Dust rose and small spaces were opened up to fresh views. Standing at the kitchen sink there is a window to my left and another directly before me. A small corner cupboard sits between the two windows and marks out the route that was regularly taken by my ghost.
She was a wraith, a wreath of mist, a young female, very sad. She was cool and grey, a gentle melancholic, with no menace to her. Nevertheless her presence made me uneasy. She was always passing through, moving at a walking pace from right to left, and I would strain and look behind and all about me to try and establish a good sound reason for whatever it was that was passing before my eyes. If you ask me how I know that she was young and female and sad I can only state that the sense of her seemed very complete.
Eventually I said to my husband, "Have you seen anything strange in the kitchen?" and because he looked blank I had to explain a little more fully. I was expecting a rebuff from this sensible man, but to my amazement he stood thoughtfully in the kitchen and said that he wasn't surprised. 
For a while that was how we left it. he would stand quietly in front of the sink or walk about the garden outside the kitchen windows. I would be washing up and my sad young ghost would float through the corner of the kitchen on her regular route. We decided that she was on her way to the big house up the hill and most likely coming from the farm situated several fields below us. Our house lies in a direct line between the two. All the properties in our hamlet were built for the estate workers serving the big house and I wondered if my ghost had perhaps been a milkmaid or parlour maid.

At Christmas, when we had been living in the village for a few months, we were invited to a neighbour's house for drinks. This was our first meeting with the local community and the house was full. My husband, in animated conversation with a group of people, waved to me from across the room to come and join them. To my horror he greeted me with, "I've been telling them about your ghost." How can you be thought of as a normal, level-headed person when you have been introduced in such a way? All eyes were upon me and I had little desire to explain myself.
"She'll be ours!" said the farmer's wife, and added, "What does she look like? Is she wearing a grey dress?" My reply was careful, I said that I sensed and saw an aura that was young and female, sad and grey. 
"She's definitely ours!" said the farmer to his wife, and since I was saying nothing more they told me their story.
The farmhouse has belonged to the same family for generations, so that the farmer lives where he was born, surrounded by family possessions and a landscape that he loves. The farm nestles in its hollow of fields and is a handsome place. A ghost has lived there for many years and her quilted, grey silk dress is kept in a large wooden chest in the hall. She is a young woman, who has been seen by a number of people. 
On one occasion an electrician was rewiring in the attic of the farmhouse. he had been working there for most of the day, coming down for his sandwiches at lunchtime and again in the afternoon when the farmer's wife made him a cup of tea.
"Your daughter's very shy," he said, "she's been up in the attic watching me work and she hasn't said a word."
"Our daughter's not at home," said the farmer's wife.
"Well, there's a young woman up there," he replied. "She's slim, with long dark hair."
"Is she wearing a grey dress?" asked the farmer's wife.
"That's right," said the man
"Well, I'm the only one at home," replied the farmer's wife, "so you must have seen our ghost." The electrician went as white as a sheet and had to be given a brandy. Nothing would persuade him to go back upstairs and finish his work.

"Are you happy to have her walk through your kitchen?" another neighbour asked me.
"Not really," I replied.
"Then you'll have to tell her to go away. You'll have to swear and be rude. You'll have to get cross and sound as though you mean it."
When we got home my husband asked me if I was going to shout at the ghost. Although I didn't want her in my kitchen I couldn't bring myself to tell her off. I went into the sitting room while my husband stood outside the kitchen window and spoke to her. I don't want to know what he said. I haven't seen her since, and although part of me thinks that I could have been more accommodating, really I am only relieved. 

8 comments:

  1. That's not surprising....I've seen a ghost here in my Bungalow, a wispy white aura of a woman...the long time resident Mrs. Plant died here in the mid 70's.
    Her son reported seeing her here too.
    I was shivering the first time I saw her and rubbed my eyes several times before realizing that I wasn't imagining her....
    I do not see her very often but would not tell her to leave.

    If my husband introduced me to strangers as yours did I fear I would be rendered speechless! Good for you to pick up the ball and roll with it!

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  2. hi rosemary,

    i believe you. i have never seen a ghost but my very good friend has a ghost in her house. but it is not an ethereal form such as yours. hers is a solid form. a young teenage girl and her small dog. everyone in the family has seen this ghost/girl and they do not consider her sinister in any way. she appears in hallways and quickly disappears.

    me i would freak out if i saw such a form in my house. i don't think i would remain as calm as you all, including leslie above. i'm a scaredy cat!

    ~janet

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  3. What a wonderful story! I haven't seen any ghost (yet?) but I totally believe in them. Of course I would start to search who is she and why she is so sad.
    And your illustration - even better than the story!

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  4. Her indoors said there used to be a ghost cat in our (top-floor) town apartment. I believe in anything - everyday miracles are much more impressive than apparitions, eh?

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  5. Not a doubter amongst you - how wonderful! Himself has just been out to buy a Sunday paper and was served by a youth with a very large bolt through his neck!

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  6. This is a good story, albeit chilling. I think only certain people can experience ghosts.

    My experience with ghosts has never been visual. I heard a man in dress dress shoes when I moved into my house but he hasn't presented himself in a long time. And when I started renovating, I experienced a presence with a foul odor. It appeared and disappeared as quickly. A friend was at my house one day when the odor presented itself. We searched for a source and could find nothing. I could feel its presence so strongly that I googled "smell of a ghost" and found other people have had the same experience. It stopped when the house started to get put together.

    Your painting is wonderful too!

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  7. hi rosemary,

    i came back to read your story again and wanted to add that i have another very good friend who has a home on kauai that is built on an old burial ground. she says that occasionally while sitting in bed the bed shakes violently all by itself. nothing else in the house or room moves. scary huh?

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  8. I find it sad that these souls wander aimlessly in this dimension instead of moving on to wherever we are supposed to go next.
    Perhaps your husband's words helped her do just that.

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