Once I saw a ghost.
This was in New Hampshire, in January 2010, just after my third book had been published. I was scheduled to do a reading at the bookstore in Portsmouth the following evening. I had driven all day through a snowstorm, and I was staying in a small inn a few blocks away from the bookstore. The weather was still terrible when I arrived, snow and ice and rain mixed together. I had dinner and then went straight back to the inn. There would be no wandering the streets that night.
There was only one other room occupied, and the inn was quiet and dark. I didn’t care if it was creepy, I was happy to be off the road. I got under the covers, still shivering from the weather. I was fully-clothed. I opened up my laptop and started to answer some emails. And then I saw something out of the corner of my eye, something floating. Very slowly I looked up.
There was a dark figure hanging from a noose of bloody red roses. The figure was definitely in the shape of a human, it was long and had bulk, but none of the features were fully realized. I stared at it for ten seconds, maybe fifteen, the whole time thinking, “This is bad, you should stop looking at this.” And then finally I forced myself to look down and it was gone.
Later (like, five minutes later, because I googled it) I found out the inn was known for being haunted. There had been one hanging in its past, in the room above mine. I guess the ghost got lost.
I finally went to bed, feeling strangely safe. The ghost has made itself known, and now it was over. In the morning I woke early, pre-dawn, because I was suddenly freezing. I opened the door of my room to see if it was just as cold in the rest of the inn, and there was a green glowing light down the length of the hallway. I walked out into it and saw that it was just a line of glowsticks – the power had gone out, and the inn staff had placed them there to light the hallway. But that was enough for me. I found a new hotel for the next night.
After that I spent six weeks on the road and I heard about ghosts everywhere I went! People were talking about loved ones who had died recently, and old relationships that were long over but they couldn’t seem to shake. I just sort of accepted that was part of my trip. And hearing about other people’s ghosts helped me to say goodbye to some of my own.
Why was I thinking about ghosts? Oh, because last night I went out with Vannesa and Johnny to the bar he owns and we were drinking wine and everyone who worked there was telling me about the ghosts that haunt the bar. There’s one ghost who likes to knock on the locked bathroom door when someone is inside using the toilet, like really bang on it, and then when the door is opened, no one is standing there. And there’s another ghost, maybe not the same one, named Claire, who showed up one day dressed in 1920s attire, and sat at the bar and talked to the bartender for a while, and no one else saw her but the bartender.
But really the thing that started all this was something that happened to the bartender earlier yesterday. He had noticed that there was some typing on his phone in a text box. He wasn’t touching it, it just started typing out a message. The bartender showed it to me. It said, “Oh okay delete that information I love the ashes so real.” And then we were all nodding and looking at it thinking the same thing, which is that while the first half of the sentence did not sound particularly ghosty, the second half of the sentence sounded as ghosty as hell.
I love the ashes so real.
I don’t really have a point to this. I just love ghost stories.