Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

When I was little, my mother used to wake us all up early on Sunday morning, stuff me and my sister into matchy outfits and drag us off to church, where she would feed me gratuitous amounts of Peppermint Lifesavors to keep me quiet while the priest droned on about the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

So how confused was I when I told my mother I was afraid there was a ghost in our house and she told me ghosts don’t exist.

“Huh? But what about the Holy Ghost?” I asked.

“That’s different,” she argued.

Well, different or not, I still thought my house was creepy. I’m sure my parents and siblings would disagree since my father and uncle built the house, so how could it be haunted? It was brand new. Nobody had died there.  But at night I would lie awake in my bed, which had a lovely view of the basement door, and there was often a white, oblong haze hovering in front of that door that my little mind couldn’t rationalize.

It was years and years later when I learned that my father and uncle had razed a hill to level the lot for the house, and the bulldozer dug up an entire woman’s outfit, including shoes. "Body? Bones? Unsolved missing person report?" I asked, but there were no details, just an outfit buried in the dirt and a lot of “what if’s” spinning through my mind.

Was it a ghost hovering in front of the basement door? I don’t know. And if it wasn’t, I can’t say for certain that I’ve ever seen a ghost. I have an overactive imagination, and when I was a kid, I was convinced that the witch from Hansel and Gretel lived in the woods behind my house, the church steeple visible over the treetops was an alien robot and garbage trucks ate little girls.

But I do know a few people who claim they’ve seen or heard or felt a ghost. These are very sane, rational people, and I’m inclined to believe them because they are not the type to lie.  I have a friend who lives in a very antique Victorian which is haunted by a sea captain who enjoys unlocking the door at night, and I’ve talked with a waitress who works for a centuries-old tavern and says a fellow waitress went to the wine cellar and spotted a Native American in full headdress down there. Another friend has had frequent spectral visitors since she was a child.

But my favorite, the one that never fails to raise goosebumps, is from a couple (we’ll call them Jane & Stu) who moved into the condo complex I lived in as a newlywed. They had a daughter in her late teens still living with them, and had already sent an older daughter out into the world. They had decided to downsize from the large Colonial they had built for their family and they were just nice, down-to-earth people. One night at a condo Halloween party, they made a vague ghost comment that I jumped on.

It turned out that they also lived in a new house that was built for them. It wasn’t until their older daughter was about eight years old that weird things began to happen. At first, it was little things, like misplaced items. Jane would go into her daughter’s room to put laundry away, and there would be an indentation on the bed as if someone was lying on it, then the indentation would disappear before her eyes. She put her younger daughter (then an infant) in the playpen to take a shower, and while she was in the bathroom she heard someone scratching at the door, but when she opened it, nobody was there and her daughter was still in her playpen. After they got a dog, they would hear barking in the house when the dog was sleeping beside them.  One night when they were in bed reading, Stu looked up and saw a child’s hand and arm, wearing an old fashioned flannel nightgown, reach into the room and close the door. They both got up to see who was out of bed, but both of their daughters were sleeping, and neither were wearing that type of nightgown.

They were curious and a little frightened … there was a foundation on their property far behind their house from a house that had burned to the ground over a century before. They searched the town records and learned that a 12 year old girl named Mary and her dog had died in the fire. At that point, the family just accepted Mary as part of the family, for the most part, although the younger daughter told me that if she got home from school and nobody was home, she would often just sit outside because, “I knew she was in there.” When Jane’s oldest daughter left to go to college, the haunting stopped.

One of the concepts of AURACLE is life after death, and I absolutely believe that spirits do not need a body to exist. But beyond the goosebumps, what's tragic is that a child, or anybody, could get stuck in a lonely afterlife for a hundred years. 

So what about you? Do you believe in ghosts?

Gina Rosati is the author of AURACLE, a YA paranormal romance that debuts August 7, 2012 from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. She lives in southern NH with her husband and two teenage children. There are no ghosts living in her house (as far as she knows.)


  1. I do believe in them, and have featured ghosts in my books. One of my earliest memories was of a "sad dog" that used to appear in my room by my crib. When I was older and more articulate, I remember telling my brother that the dog was waiting for someone that never came back. And we lived in a new tract house.

  2. Yikes! Well I believe in ghosts (including the Holy one). One of my co-workers had to move from her old farmhouse because she and her boyfriend were sick of being woken up in the middle of the night by either a teenage boy or an old lady who'd turn on the t.v....or pull all the knobs off the stove....

  3. Oh, Angelica, that breaks my heart!! Poor sad dog! And Anne, that is so creepy!! Especially the knobs on the stove ... I'd be worried whoever it is would turn the stove on and burn the house down.

  4. Gina, that story is so creepy. And sad. I'm with the younger daughter--no way I'd go into that house alone with "her," little girl or not! I am so looking forward to your book now!