Ghosts come in many shapes and forms. There are the ghosts of our pasts, the memories we'd like to forget. There are the ghosts of chance, a missed moment or a risk not taken, that leaves us wondering "What if..." There are the ghosts of those we've lost, those times when you see the back of a head in a crowd and think, "Hey, is that?" before remembering that they're gone from our world. Then there are ghosts, those of the supernatural, "things that go bump in the night" variety.
If you ask me if I believe in ghosts, I'll tell you that I don't know. I say I don't know because I don't want to say no and have a ghost prove me wrong, but also because I simply don't know. I believe that when a person dies, energy can be left behind. For this reason, I could never knowingly live in a house in which a violent death occurred. Not because I think a vengeful ghost would wake me up in the middle of the night, tossing wine glasses at my head, but because I believe that in the instance in which a life is ended with rage or fear, surely something must linger. But what that something is, I don't know. I grew up in a house that was built in 1841. A house that likely saw many more births and deaths than any house will today. In my parents' orchard, the old outhouse is still standing, and I grew up knowing that someone died in there, with his feet propped against the door, so that the door had to be torn off to remove his body. If some part of us is left behind after death, I certainly hope he hasn't had to spend all of eternity trapped in an outhouse. In high school, my friends and I would always go to a local cemetery, an old Gypsy graveyard, hoping to see something scary. We succeeded only in scaring ourselves. In college, we would make trips to a cemetery, out in the middle of a state forest, where the surroundings were perhaps scarier than any ghost could have been. In all those trips, I never found an answer or had an experience that made me move past my thoughts on ghosts, my status of simply not knowing.
Statistic says that 1/3 of Americans believe in ghosts, yet when you ask someone a question of the supernatural variety, the inevitable answer--whether or not they're in that 1/3--is, "Well, there was this one time..." My one time happened when I was around seven. I was in my bedroom playing with Barbies. I never liked the cheap plastic hairbushes that came with the dolls, so I always used this green wire-bristled hair brush. To this day, this memory is startlingly clear. I was brushing the dolls' hair, and I set the hairbrush slightly behind me to dress the dolls. After dressing Barbie in a cocktail gown of some variety, I wanted to make a few last minute adjustments to the hair. I felt behind me for the brush, couldn't find it. I turned around and didn't see it, so I remember thinking that I likely knocked it in between the bed and wall. I peered into the slightly gloomy space between and didn't see the hairbrush, deciding that it had fallen all the way under the bed. I remember thinking that I should ask my mom to help me, but at that moment, all I wanted was to fix Barbie's hair, so I headed downstairs to get a new brush. As I opened the cabinet in the bathroom, I caught a flash of green. I opened it further and there was the green hairbrush, the one I'd just been using. We didn't have two green hairbrushes, and I knew it was the one I'd had, the one I'd set behind me. But how? I didn't take it, I didn't go back upstairs, instead I walked outside, into the bright sunshine. To this day, I still wonder what happened. Childhood's logic can be simple some times and memory can be faulty, so perhaps there's a part of the story I'm forgetting. Yet, that memory has stayed with me all these years, clearer than any other childhood memory, simply because I do not understand it. I do know that that is my story, that it is not dramatic and does not involve a light leading me from a burning car, or a hitchhiker that disappeared in front of a cemetery. Still, it is my story, the one that makes me wonder, the one that longs for a rational explanation, yet in all these years, I cannot seem to find one.
Entry submitted to Scribbit's October Write-Away Contest.