When I first spent my boyhood summer vacations "in-the-country" far away from the busy streets of St John's, I soon discovered that most people in this place still believed in fairies, ghosts, and the like. Though it was only an hour or two away by car it seemed to be an escape into a different world.
My mother was born here in 1900, which led her to have a richly imaginative life, believing in such things even if it also included living in constant fear of them. Of course when we came along, my sister and I picked up on all of these ghostly phenomenon as well. She may have got this way because as a young girl she often accompanied her mother on her spooky rounds of preparing the dead of the place for wakes and burials. It seemed only a matter of time before I too would encounter my own specter, and sure enough, it came along shortly after my 12th birthday.
Yes, I swear that I saw old Aunt Lucy's ghost when I was 12. It occurred when I was forced by winter weather to spend the night in her somewhat isolated home only weeks after she had passed away. Not only that but it was also necessary for me to sleep in the very room and yes, even in the same bed in which she had succumbed only weeks before.
Sometime shortly after 9 pm I was taken up to her bedroom and given a chamber pot and a lamp by her middle aged spinster daughter who bid me good night and departed. All was silent within the room except for the sound of the fast flowing river than ran along only 30 feet or so behind the back porch.
Somewhat comforted by the sound, I climbed onto her bed, if a little uneasily, and attempted to get relaxed on its very thick, soft goose feather mattress. While waiting to fall asleep I became aware of a dark shadow moving along the wall next to the bed. After watching it for some time, I turned away from the wall to look out into the room where I saw the bent, shrouded figure of an old lady wearing a black shawl pacing. She continued walking back and forth silently beside the bed as if ignoring my presence. I could clearly see her form in the moonlight that filled the bedroom. She continued to pace there silently throughout the night, all the while making no attempt to disturb me. I lay awake the entire night, unable to move from the bed in order to flee the room, so consumed I was with fear.
To escape her tormenting presence I often turned my back on her and pressed my face towards the wall that ran alongside the bed. But each time I turned again onto my back I saw that the wretched form was still there, wandering in the gloom. Finally the dawn came leaking through the delicate lace curtains and banished the spirit.
When I saw that I was thus released, I quickly rose from my prison on the bed and bolted from the confines of the room. Running all the way, I was breathless when I reached my Aunt Liza's house a mile away and pounded on the door to be admitted.
Even though the hour was curiously early to be arriving there and under such strange circumstances, no one queried as to why or even commented on it. It was as if they already knew what might have caused my panic.