Jul 24, 2016

Can a Sane Person Believe in Ghosts?

     I was thinking, I haven't yet told you where I live, have I? I told you I moved, but I don't think I told you where. So. I moved to a charming little coastal town, specifically, to a charming little house from which it takes me a charming  little  short three-minute walk to reach the sea. Although I've already written that the part of the structure I live in was built in 1957, the house is even older, much older and was first used as a saltern house where saltern workers lived about a century ago when the salt pans still stretched that far. But it's not just marine proximity and the house's history that's charming, it's also its surroundings. Up front, there's a grapevine canopy which spills over into a delightful little garden full of bright orange wild lilies, bay bushes and palm trees, tomatoes and strawberries, linden and fig trees, all hedged by a charming tangle of white and pink roses entwined with rosemary, while the backyard is actually an orchard full of cherry, pear, apple, olive, apricot, walnut, hazelnut, persimmon, peach and greengage trees, so we basically have fresh fruit all year round. Sure, all the pruning and weeding and watering gets annoying, but still, all in all, it is truly very charming. Oh yeah, and one more thing: the house is haunted.
     Granted, that might make me seem like I'm mad but let me assure you I'm not, I have proof — I've been seeing things. Although … when I told that to my family, they did say I was crazy so maybe that’s not the best argument, but you have to give me some credit: persuading my analytical, empirical, factual, all-science-no-bullshit, Mensa member genius brother that there was a ghost in my house wasn't the easiest of tasks. Still, I gave it my best and explained in great detail and with great solemnity all the things I'd been seeing but the fruits of my labour amassed to 'What — or should I say how much — have you been smoking?' and 'Sure thing, sis, you have a ghost in your house.' Talk about a tough audience.
     The conversation with my mother, the doctor, was, I guess of course, just as fruitless.
     "So in other news, mom," I tried to casually bring up the uncanny incidents.
     "And I'm not crazy, OK, just hear me out."
     "This house is haunted."
     "Oh is it now?"
     "Yes, there's a ghost in the house, I'm telling you."
     "Interesting. And who is it? Casper the friendly ghost?"
     "Come on, I'm being serious, there is a ghost in the house."
     "Oh, stop with this nonsense, we didn't raise you like that."
     "You didn't rais... what? You didn't raise me to live in a haunted house??"
     "No, we didn't raise you to be a scaredy-pants."
     That sure was news to me because I am, hands down, the biggest scaredy-pants I know. I can't sit behind a desk with my back to the door, I don't swim in any body of water if I can't see the bottom, I have to sleep facing the window or the door, no way I'm turning my back to any entryway, and I prefer the bed to be pushed against a wall for extra security, so you can probably imagine I slept with a nightlight when I was a kid. You probably can't imagine, though, that I also formed an outline with all my stuffed toys for protection, lining them up all around my head, torso and legs, lying there face-up and motionless and stiff like I was a body in some weird crime scene. Where my mom got the impression I wasn't a scaredy-pants is a complete enigma to me. So on top of all other concerns I was constantly mulling over day in, day out before the big move, I also had this giant question handing over me: How the fuck will I, the scaredy-pants, sleep all by myself in that big old house??
     There's this annoyingly accurate saying in Croatian, što se mora, nije teško, which could be translated as the things one must do are not difficult, and thus, when the day came and it was time for me to sleep all by myself in that big old house, I slept like a baby, no nightlight, no watch dog, no stuff-toy outline, no nothing. I even turned my back to the door — što se mora, nije teško. But then ... I met my boyfriend.
     After abruptly having no choice but taking off my scaredy pants and putting on my big girl ones, my boyfriend came into the picture and shortly after that moved in with me — and that's when the bizarre, eerie things started happening and I quickly dug my scaredy trousers out of the closet again.
     First, the front door lock started to constantly lock on its own, mostly locking my boyfriend out of the house. Then there came the crackling of the window shutters and then came the irregular dripping from the water heater. But even though we joked that the house was haunted and that the ghost didn't want my boyfriend in it, since all of that began when he came about, we found analytical, empirical, factual, all-science-no-bullshit explanations for everything: the lock turns when the door is slammed shut, the shutter hinges heat and cool during the day and crackle in the process and water pressure in the water heater fluctuates making the damn thing drip from time to time — duh. Haunted house my ass. But then one day something happened that defies all logic. No seriously, it does.
     One day, we — the boyfriend, the dog and the scaredy-pants — were coming home from our evening walk and when we were drawing closer to the house, we saw a light in one of the windows on the top floor — one of the windows of the top floor that no one ever uses, like never ever. The dog, oblivious, naturally kept walking, but we both froze and looked at each other.
     "Have you been upstairs?" I asked.
     "No, I haven't. Why would I go up there?"
     "So what the ... Wait, you think there's someone in the house?"
     "Someone like ..."
     "I don't know, maybe somebody broke in."
     And with that, we somewhat hesitantly hurried up to the house, unlocked the door and listened for noise. There wasn't any and everything looked as it did when we left the house, so we sent the dog up (she wears no pants, so she can't be too big of a scaredy-pants, right?) and followed her up the stairs.
     Slowly pushing through the darkness, we were looking around to see any signs of a break-in. Again, everything seemed in order, except for the light under the door of the room at the end of the dim hallway. We inched closer and closer with the dog leerily sniffing the air at our feet, until we were at the door. We — and by we I mean sure as hell not me — turned the handle and pushed the door open. Nothing was amiss inside. Except for that light, that light that was switched on, switched on in a room that no one uses on a floor that nobody goes to which definitely wasn't turned on the night before. Can you explain that? But then, as if that wasn't enough, we turned out the light, closed the door and my boyfriend decided to check the door of the room opposite to the one we just left. I actually have no idea why he decided to do that because that room is always locked with a key that's kept in a drawer of a table in a different room — there's really no point in checking a room that had always been locked before and was without a shadow of a doubt locked then. Right? Right?!
     He placed his hand on the handle, looked at me, I nodded, he then pushed on the handle and — the door slowly swung open, what else, making that horror movie creepy screeching sound and pitch blackness gaped at us. Needless to say, I bolted towards the stairway with the rest of my Scaredy Gang right behind me. And when I say bolted, I mean bolted: I'm short with short little legs and I'm not the most athletic person in the world to begin with but I was down those stairs and on the ground floor way before the dog, like half a day before the dog, I ran so fast I was down before I even got up there. I wasn't raised to be a scaredy-pants my ass!
     Unfortunately, that didn't end the I'm-about-to-shit-my-(scaredy-)pants streak because shortly after, I dreamt that my body was possessed by an evil spirit who first stole my voice and then started to choke me from within — in one of the rooms on the top floor. The dream was so vivid, I was literally screaming from the top of my lungs in the middle of the night, freaking the fuck out of my boyfriend, who in turn woke me up before I'd see how the dream ended, thank fuck. That happened two nights in a row and the following night just before bedtime, yet another freaky shit happened.
     We were just about to take the dog out for her final whiz before turning in for the night so we called her to the front door. She hobbled groggily from the living room where she fell asleep on the couch, stretched in the foyer and headed towards the door. But when she got near, she all of a sudden flinched and darted backwards with her tail between her legs as if she got scared of something, as if she got scared of a ghost — a ghost that was turning on lights and unlocking the doors and haunting me in my dreams! Again, needless to say, I was freaked the fuck out, I was beside myself. And can you blame me? The house was haunted. The stupid, frigging house was frigging haunted!
     The next morning in the light of day, the house looked and felt a lot friendlier, I must say. And not just that: the next morning in the light of day, my boyfriend also found a foot-long splinter stuck in the door which apparently poked the dog — duh. Haunted house my ass.
     So see, there are no ghosts, just analytical, empirical, factual, all-science-no-bullshit explanations, except ... except when there aren't any. There's still no explanation of that light that was turned on and the door that was unlocked, mind you, and not even my genius Mensa brother nor my no nonsense mother have been able to provide one. Therefore there really is no question if a sane person can believe in ghosts — a sane person has to believe in ghosts, if you ask me. Just like in unicorns, you know.

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