Monday, January 22, 2007

Haint that a shame, Part V

I lit a fire in the fireplace yesterday for the first time in a year. Until this weekend past it hasn't been cold enough to bother. As sometimes happens, once I got a satisfying blaze started, the smoke detector upstairs went off.

I got up on a wobbly bar stool Cha uses for her drafting table to disable the smoke detector. It hangs from the ceiling in the 2nd floor landing. The four bedrooms and the bathroom open off this landing. All five doors were open. I was perched on my knees on the stool, precariously balanced and fiddling with the battery in the smoke detector. I could see out of the corner of my eye what appeared to be a long thin figure in the dark corner of the guest room. The figure was brightly lit and it was mimicking my movements, raising its arms in the air and swaying in an attempt to remain balanced.

There's a tendency these days to attach significance to any odd happening at 2 York Road. This time, I wasn't having it. The far corner in the guest room is where Cha recently put her full-sized standing mirror. I ignored the wispy mysterious figure taunting me with its waving limbs because of course it was my own reflection. The landing was brightly lit, and the guest room was dark. The reflection in the mirror of course looked odd, gleaming as it did from a dark room. Rationalism wins! I got the battery lose and managed to shut up the irritable electric twirping of the alarm, just as the first-floor smoke detector started wailing.

I leapt down from the stool, a bit aggravated, and promptly saw that Cha's standing full-size mirror was propped in the corner of the landing, at the top of the stairs. What I'd seen hadn't been my reflection at all. I turned to look into the guest room and saw that the door was now closed. Let's just say my confidence in rationalism didn't propel me over to open the door and look inside. I took a second to remove the battery from the other detector, then I closed the glass doors on the hearth and got my coat.

I went for a walk in the snow and freezing rain, thinking I could find something to do until Cha and Ma returned from Mass. The house felt a bit too lonely without them--or, perhaps not lonely enough?


alicia said...

that's really creepy. A few months ago Jon Stewart had this author on his show, his book was called "life after death" I don't remember the author's name, but he was talking about how he believes the central nervous system is just a way for us to communicate, and just because that's gone doesn't mean we're gone also...or something. Sounded like interesting reading especially with all the craziness going on at your house.

Steven Hart said...

I can't decide if you're cursed or lucky. Though I'm intrigued by the idea of ghosts, I never come remotely close to seeing one. There was the one late-night writing session when I put on Fripp and Eno's "An Index of Metals" and creeped myself out so completely that I had to pick up the dog, get into the car and go for a late-night drive. But I have no idea how I'd react if I found myself in your position.

geoff said...

We had our home inspection last evening, and the listing agent told a truly hair-raising tale of poltergeist activity in her house since the death of her husband. I'll take our minor annoyances!

I've been similarly creeped out by music. The first time I heard Pink Floyd's "Careful with that Axe, Eugene," and some bits by Lutoslowski--I became terrified and had to leave the house.

And I'm lucky, of course!