Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Ghost Story: This Is The Kind...
And always the train going by on that discontinued spur - all distant and lonely and muted like the volume was turned down.
Imaginations overwrought, we just wound ourselves right up into susceptibility of the most exquisite degree. We took gobs of pictures hoping to catch an “entity” digitally and did catch a few creepy photos with smoky ectoplasm and orbs in them, we think.
Assigned to the ground floor suite called “The Senator’s Room,” really the only scary thing about it upon first examination was a framed and signed photograph of Strom Thurmond next to one of Jimmy Carter, both of whom apparently stayed there at one time. I thought it might be disconcerting enough getting to sleep with those two evil birds gazing down from above the spooky black painted fireplace! But they were the least of it, as it turns out.
Of course, as if on cue, the atmosphere literally became charged when an unbelievable summer storm enveloped the place as the sun went down. Electricity was snapping and popping all around and ozone scented the air profusely. I could not have ordered a more appropriate special effect had it been a movie set.
My ever-so-mature and intelligent theory on “ghosts” up until this point is that they are merely “echoes” of past energies left behind by really passionate and particularly distinctive humans whose personalities were just too, well, interesting not to leave an indelible imprint on their environments. Basically, I contended with a haughty confidence born of sublimely misguided arrogance, these energies are like a television broadcast possessing no sentient thought, and no purpose. Just recordings replaying until the battery runs out, if you like.
So, going in, “I ain’t scared of no ghost!”
Not until 3:11 a.m. in the morning anyway.
I awoke in our dark room with just the gleam of a streetlight streaming through the window. T was oblivious next to me snoring and cooing in her sleep a little as she does.
Clearly, closely and not in my head. It sounded like an old woman but had a childish tone as well. She said,
“This is the kind of paper that…”
Then she paused and said it again a little louder and sounding slightly annoyed.
“This is the kind of paper that we…”
And then…nothing. T continued snoring.
I smiled. Now I had finally heard my “entity,” my “energy recording from the past,” and congratulated myself that our adventure there was worth every penny; the fun factor was off the chain. Great story to tell! Confident and content, I rolled over positioning myself back to back with my squishy snuffling little daughter to sleep.
Then, directly in my ear, sounding as though the talker was standing over me, I heard,
“This is the kind of paper that we use, LINDA!”
And what was my cordial, measured and winning response?
I told a ghost to “SHUT UP! SHUT UP!”
Upon hearing my name being called, my southern-bred charm, poise and manners flew right out the window with what I imagined to be a very offended specter. T emerged from her stupor only to say, “Mom I didn’t say anything! Why are you telling me to shut up?” From her vantage under me, because that is where she ended up, all she could see was me - white faced and growling, eyes bugging out and poised on all fours like a mother lion. I was unconsciously pushing her behind me trying to shield her from…
I am struggling even as I write this with the embarrassment of that moment concurrent with harvest of goose bumps popping up all over my lily white skin. No kidding, I am still floored by the experience!
Needless to say, in a flurry of dramatic flapping on my part, the lights went on, the TV and my computer were powered up. I made every modern electrical contrivance work to repel any more ghostly encounters for the night. We were left alone, ultimately, and I think it was because I was so rude!
Well, mea culpa all to heck!
Oh, by the way, the innkeeper, a lady called Peggy, explained the next morning over a beautiful breakfast, that the resident ghost from our room, a certain Miss Fannie, expressed to a visiting psychic (with whom she apparently had a better encounter than I) that she was not pleased with the renovations made to the inn. She was especially annoyed that the wallpaper had been replaced with plaster and painted.
Apparently, Miss Fannie was the bossy business mind behind the plantation for many years, ran the massive cotton farming operation there, and evidently ruled every one’s life there as well!
She was also quite the prude. Her ghost allegedly confronted newlyweds after evidently being disturbed by their, ahem, newly-minted marital hijinks in the wee hours, calling the bride a “harlot!”
As we drove away from the Inn in the radiant purging light of a summer midday in the south, T said she was going to miss the sound of sweeping. She was certain she heard someone tidying up as she was going to sleep the night before.
I didn’t, and we were the only ones in the Inn that night, but the ghosts dish up what we might need to hear at any one moment in life. My message was one of humility and T was gifted with sleepy comfort. I come to find out that there was a sweet black nanny who purely loved the children for whom she tended at the mansion. Many had seen her apparition gently and rhythmically sweeping the porch outside the children’s rooms as she waited for them to settle down and sleep. It appears that love, among many other emotions, lingers on.
That’s my story. I am changed by it. You might say humbled.