SHIT! I haven’t told you about the ghost yet.
The ghost was a shadow that followed me around. Sometimes, as I was swimming up from a deep place of sleep, I could see, through the sleepy cement eyes that are always there first thing in the morning or whenever it is that I wake, something sitting on my bed. It’s always the same shape or outline and it always sits in the same position. And it always scares the shit out of me. You would think that I would be able to get used to it by now, but each time is like the very first time and each time is just as scary as before, more so, really. However, by the time that I have brought myself to some type of sense, and before I have completely rubbed my eyes clear of the cement of sleep, it has gone without leaving any signs that it had been there in the first place.
Once or twice I tried to call my dad, but so far he hasn’t answered. I would call my mum but she would just hush me with words that she thinks are soothing and comforting and the complete answer to everything, “Try not to think about it too much.” It’s easy for her to say, or it would be if I ever phoned her. And then there is nobody else here to talk to. Or should I say, in retrospect, that there was only the ghost. The ghost watched me every morning that I woke, every morning that I was waking up and it left at the very moment when sleep had finally left me, and the cement had at last been rubbed from my eyes. And, after a while, the ghost became just some other phantom that I was aware of. Ghosts follow us, they re-tread our every step and they stick close to us. I don’t know what the Quakers would have thought about that, ghost and spirits and such, but I do know that this country pile had more than enough chained souls to form a hypothesis.
I had been getting uneasily accustomed to the presence that visited me on a daily basis. I was scared. I did not want to wake up. And I certainly did not want to come face to face with it. But for the time being, I was marginally consoled that the thing, the ghost, always evaporated before I had managed to run the sleep cement from my eye lids. There was a day, much later on, that it remained there, long after I had rubbed the cement from my eyes, and just looked at me. I looked back so as not to show my inner fear, but then I had to get up to go to the toilet and when I returned to my room, it was gone. I was aware of it, but I was under the impression that somehow I was confusing myself about the fact that I wasn’t really awake and that I was just running along the corridors in the confusing realms of sleep.
Ghost: The spirit of a dead person or the memory of something, especially bad or a slight amount of something or a shadow of its former self.
Sandham has always had its ghosts. They come from the minds of creative boys whose tangle of possible narrative explanations needed a form to embody them. Some of the younger ones had earlier taken to the ghost of Bloody Mary, whose presence in mirrors, on corridors, in the corner of their bedrooms or in the showers, was undisputed proof that she was actually there. This meant that she had become an actual fact amongst her followers. To others, this was just another example of the vivacity of their youthful imaginations. Sandham was old enough to have a genuine claim to wandering souls, but none truly sprang to mind. The purpose of Mary was to merely be there, to stand in the murky background of young minds, to suggest that there was something beyond what it usually seen, to add another layer of intrigue to a place that was, by and large, a purposeful imitation of something that it was not. Bloody Mary was not a revisitation of a dead Protestant monarch, who mercilessly executed about three-hundred ‘dissenters’ by burning, as there were never any reports of the that sulphurous aroma or of the screams which would have been a prerequisite. I would have thought that she would have conjured something that was more apt and perhaps pointed to her fame, or infamy.
Not a fun fact is that ‘infamy’ is bad fame or fame for doing bad things. And burning people alive is pretty high up there in the ‘bad things’ of stuff to do. Apart from the wrongly-named Mary, there had never been anything in the school that suggested itself as being from any other dimension. Until the virus, known as Covid-19, had properly settled on the real world. “Real’ is something that is actually existing, occurring in fact and not imagined. Me waking or, more to the point, everyone else sleeping, was a fact, I think.
On one of those times when I was waking, I again saw the outline of my bedroom ghost. I had taken up a more extended form of clearing my eyes of the sleep cement so that I could take in more details of my unwanted visitor. It had probably suspected what my plan was and was always one step ahead, assuming that ghosts took steps rather than simply float. Thinking about it, floating would potentially be a good way of getting around. Think of the benefits that could be gained:
- No mud on carpets or floors
- No having to take your shoes off when entering your house
- No blisters or corns (if you are poor and have ill-fitting footwear
- No need to wear the correct shoes for certain occasions such as funerals
- No giveaway noises as you creep up to somebody from behind with the intention to scare them.
I haven’t got a clue if my ghost was wearing shoes as he sat on my bed as he always made it out of my vision just before the last of the grainy sleep was rubbed away. He never left muddy footprints either. Still, I thought that my ghost was better than their Bloody Mary and I had the distinct feeling that he had not done terrible things either.