Until I was about nine years old, I lived in an apartment that I was convinced was haunted.
Or perhaps it might be better to say that I lived in an apartment that I hoped was haunted. After all, to live in a haunted apartment would have been a great adventure, wouldn't it? And besides, I was obsessed with death from a very young age - it isn't very surprising that I saw ghosts.
But looking back on that apartment, if ghosts do exist, they most certainly inhabited that place. It was an old apartment, in a neighbourhood where I would come across blood splatters and gun shells on the sidewalk when I went for a walk. My next door neighbour was beaten regularly by her roommate, the building was once evacuated for a week because someone fell asleep with a lit cigarette in her bed, and the only mundane image that I vividly remember from the apartment was a very horror movie-esque stain in the poorly lit car park, in the shape of a smeared handprint.
But as far as evidence of ghosts, there are only two that I have a difficult time explaining today.
It was not rare for me to pass rooms by and think that I saw people out of the corner of my eye. This was one of the reasons why I came to the conclusion that the building was haunted, but in retrospect, I can dismiss that easily. I was young, I had a big imagination, I wanted the building to be haunted, I passed them by too quickly to be sure what I saw, etc., etc. But there was one time when I saw a figure face-on.
I was asleep in my bedroom, the door wide open and the hallway light on because I was... well, I don't remember how old, but I was young. It was late, and everyone else in the apartment was asleep, when for whatever reason, I woke up. And when I woke up, I saw someone standing in my doorway.
I wouldn't be able to physically describe him. Though the hallway light was on behind him, he looked to me like a black silhouette - no facial features, no clothing, nothing. He was too tall to be my mother and too thin to be my father. And when I saw him, I was immediately terrified. I just gave a little gasp and then, acting with perfect child logic, I threw my head under the blankets and waited for him to go away. And when I lifted my head out of the blanket next, he had.
The next morning, I asked my family if anyone had checked on me in the night; nobody had. And I know what you're thinking - I could have dreamed the whole thing, but I maintained firmly that I was not asleep. And I can still vividly remember seeing him, standing there in my doorway, a man's figure with no distinct features. I know it happened.
But that was just the first event that I couldn't explain; the second took place years later, after I had moved out of the apartment. This new house was in a much safer neighbourhood - in a fairly typical suburb, in fact. At the time, my sister and I were home alone, sitting in the living room and talking about our old apartment - specifically, we were talking about how we both used to think that our old apartment was haunted. I told her that I used to see a man, emphasizing the time that I saw him standing in my doorway, because that was the time that I had seen him most vividly. My sister too said that she used to see a man, and that she used to dream about him too. And as the pair of us were talking about this (and, admittedly, freaking ourselves out about it a little bit), the phone rang.
Now, to explain why this freaked us out as much as it did, there are a few things that I need to explain first: the phone that we had at the time had two ringtones, one for when someone was calling from the second phone that we had, the one that was kept in the basement, and another ringtone for everyone else. My sister and I were quite used to the sound of the former ringtone, because my dad would often call the house phone from the basement phone, asking for us to bring something down to the basement. But the thing is, nobody was home besides me and my sister. And we were both in the living room; the door to the basement was closed, the room empty, the only sounds coming from it being a repetitive beating noise against the door that we chalked up to the wind. And when the phone rang, while we were talking about the ghosts of our old apartment, it was the phone in the basement that was calling us.
Just like the first time that I encountered a figure, I made no attempt to investigate. I didn't answer the phone, I didn't go into the basement, and my sister and I agreed to stop talking about ghosts after that. And I'm sure that someone will be able to come up with an explanation for one or both of my encounters, but I know what I saw and what I heard. To this day, years after both events, I have a hard time dismissing it all. And although I do not know if what I saw was a ghost or a shadow person or whatever, I do know that the figure in my doorway was something more than what we encounter in our everyday lives.
Published by Ciara Hall