My close childhood friend, Gretta, lives in a small town in Oxfordshire, England called Harwell. Her home has a great deal of character and indeed seems to be inhabited by a few characters too.
Her house is over 400 years old and as you ascend to the third floor, the beams get increasingly lower and the wooden floors slant. As the uncarpeted and somewhat creaky stairs curl upwards, you have to duck a bit so as not to hit your head on the doorframes. It is absolutely gorgeous, spacious, comfortable and, well, as you might imagine…haunted.
No need for goosebumps though. Gretta’s home was once used as a schoolhouse, so any spirits there are benign, curious, helpful and respectful. They are not your typical troublemakers.
I had stayed there before, but in a different bedroom, a floor below, one that I felt sure should be haunted, but there was no supernatural activity that trip, at least none that I saw or heard. This trip was different. Some say that ghosts will only appear on the level of the home or place where they died or spent most of their time in the human realm.
One evening at dinner, we talked a lot about writing, schooling and Margaret Atwood (who is all the rage with her new novel coming out). I gave Gretta, her daughter and my husband a taste of “Hungry for Arts” my next book to be published; a little dramatic, old style reading around the table, as people did before television and the internet. They played along when I asked them to dance the motions of the Whammy Roo. It was fun and energized.
Other ears must have been listening in. That night, I did not sleep well. Something kept drawing me from slumber. Something or someone (there were two of them actually, standing side by side), kept wanting my attention. Over and over the little one said, “I’m Daisy.” The taller one said, “And I’m Evelyn. That’s EEEV-elyn, with a long E, not with a short E.”
“Write about us.”
“Put us in one of your stories.” They smiled excitedly.
Both were dressed in long skirts with pinafores and wore bonnets. Daisy had long, blonde hair. Evelyn could have been her sister, but certainly took a protective stance over Daisy. They did not come into the room, but stayed politely in the doorway…but the chatter!
They did not leave me alone until I acknowledged that indeed I would remember them and write about them. Their parting words, were, “Oh, and mind the stairs.”
The next day, I told Gretta about the girls, that was, after I fell down the stairs and earned myself a bruise the size of my palm. I had not ‘minded the stairs.”
I told Gretta about the two and that they had given me their names. She was not surprised as people had told her that her place was haunted before. When I pronounced Evelyn’s name, I said it with a short E. Gretta said, “You mean EEEV-elyn”.
Do you have goosebumps now? Well I certainly do because I have to find a place for both Daisy and Evelyn in a story. One must always keep their promises to the spirits.
Have you ever seen a ghost or felt the presence of a spirit? Was it in a creepy setting or a rather normal one? Share a tidbit of your otherworldly story or suggest a place where one might encounter a ghost in the comment section below! Think out of the box!