It used to be on Halloween that I loved to dress up and eat candy, but I also loved to watch a good scary movie. I’d be nervous in the dark for a while, but my nerves could handle it and for some reason it was fun to be scared. Sadly, my nerves just won’t allow me to indulge in fear anymore.
Last weekend though I let myself listen to ghost stories on NPR as I drove to get our Saturday night dinner. I thought since they were on the radio that they would end up being lighthearted, but they didn’t.
One was about this old lady who haunted a family and spent her time torturing the youngest child. When the storyteller, who happened to be the youngest child, started to tell how the lady appeared to his mom one day and she was gray with black eye sockets and rotting skin, I had to turn the car off. It was time to get out and get the food anyway, and I just knew that I was going to have a rough time getting the thought of the old woman out of my head.
When I got back in the car, that story was over, but now a man was talking about how he and his friends tried out an Ouija board in the hotel that inspired The Shining. This didn’t turn out to be a fun Halloween story either. I pulled in my driveway as he started talking about how the ghost of a little girl who drowned appeared to some man in the hallway after she had talked to them through the Ouija board, so I turned off the engine and hightailed it to the front door, my heart beating fast.
I have a bit of insomnia, and after hearing those stories I knew I would have a rough night ahead of me.
I guess I woke up about midnight, as a seven month pregnant lady is bound to do after she drinks too much water before bed. I didn’t want the old lady to get me so I waddled to the bathroom and back as fast as I could. I kept my eyes down because I didn’t want to accidentally get a glimpse of her or that little girl. I was wide awake. Normally when I can’t sleep I go into the living room and watch television until I get tired again, but I wasn’t taking any chances with the dark, my imagination or anything that might be hanging around in there from the other side.
I tried closing my eyes tight and pretending to be in a little cabin during a blizzard. I tried pretending to be in a cave with a fire blazing. I tried counting sheep. I tried everything, but I was just plain scared and couldn’t go back to sleep.
I don’t know why I get so scared of the dark. I remember an episode of the show Are You Afraid of the Dark? where a ghost came through the wall above a kids bed. That really did a number on me as a child, an older child. The night after I watched that I remember hiding under the covers just imagining a ghost floating through the wall to get me. I begged Mama, who was engulfed in an episode of Law & Order at the time, to please come lay down with me. She told me over and and over to go on to bed and she’d be there in a minute, but her minutes were long and I just knew something was going to get me.
Anyway, on Saturday night I finally just broke down and turned the TV in the bedroom on and decided I’d deal with the consequences of whoever it woke up. Luckily no one budged, and eventually I went back to sleep and was not bothered by any ghosts.
I don’t know if ghosts are real or not. I’ve heard enough stories about them that I’m inclined to believe they are. If they are, I hope they just go ahead and stay away from me. And you too. Happy Halloween!
Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.