Wednesday, October 10, 2012

True Ghost Story: Keshia Swaim

Our next ghost story comes from my awesome daughter, Keshia Swaim. As most of you know, she grew up in a haunted house so she is very familiar with ghosts. When Keshia moved out of our home, her encounters with ghosts didn’t stop and that is what her story is about today, but befor we get to that let me say that Keshia is also an author. She contributed a chapter in On Haunted Ground which is a book detailing our lives living with ghosts. She has also had several short stories published and her debut novel Blood Bound is scheduled to be released September 2013 and I hope to be doing a cover reveal for her book very soon so keep a look out. You can find Keshia on facebook  and this is her blog

            For those of you wondering, yes, I am the daughter mentioned in Lisa’s book, On Haunted Ground. Ghosts, and ghost stories, have been a “normal” part of my entire life. I’ve prided myself on being far less jumpy, harder to startle, and just generally cooler than most of my peers. J 
            When my husband and I bought our first house several years ago, I knew before signing the papers that we were purchasing a haunted house. But since I spent my entire childhood in one, I figured that it would be fun. I was wrong.
            Our dream home was…well…a mess. But we could afford it, so it was still dreamy. At first. Before we could move in, we had to do some major renovations. Aside from the fact that the home had sat empty for years, the previous owner was a heavy smoker, and not overly interested in home maintenance. I thought that some opened windows and a fresh coat of paint would be all we needed to make the house livable.
            But the carpets were stained beyond repair, so we ripped them up, and found…tile. And wood floors, and more carpet. It seemed that the previous homeowner believed in simply layering the new flooring over the old. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard Mom mention that home renovations seem to stir up the resident ghosts like little else can do.

            Even though I could feel the increasingly agitated spirit of what I now believed to be a grumpy old man, I started complaining; loudly. As a carpenter’s daughter, I’d been around my fair share of home projects, and I could tell pure laziness when I saw it. It seemed like every shortcut the previous owner (which I strongly suspected was my current ghost) made caused me even more work.
            I ended up taking several days off work to dedicate to our new home. Since my husband was working, I was alone most of the time. Yet there was an unmistakable, angry presence following me around. Even after I stopped muttering to myself about the house’s condition, I could feel him. Always following, always angry. More than once I had to leave, just to get away from him. The air would get so thick I could hardly breathe, and I’d have to fight down a wave of panic.
            The worst times almost always came when I was working in a small bathroom, just across from the master bedroom. I’d get dizzy, short of breath, and terrified. On more than one occasion, I was convinced there was actually someone in my bathtub, even though I could clearly see it was empty. Finally, while painting the walls, it hit me: someone died in here. In the bathtub. Now, I’ve never experienced a heart attack, but if what I felt that day was even a shadow of the real thing, I hope I never, ever, have one.
            But, I’d lived with ghosts all my life. I could do this.
            With most of the major work done, my husband and I moved in to our new home. Since he wasn’t nearly as comfortable with ghosts, I chose not to mention my experiences to him, hoping it would calm down now that the construction was over. 
            It didn’t.
            Moving our stuff in seemed to enrage our ghost far more than griping about his style and home repair skills. He didn’t like where we put the T.V., our new dining room light, or anything about my things being in his cabinets.
            As I started loading closets and cabinets, I could feel him behind me, seething. But I chose to ignore him, instead singing upbeat songs or planning my next home purchase. And then I saw him.
            The only way I can describe this is that I saw him in my head. He wasn’t physically there, but he was real all the same. He started jumping out at me from around corners, slamming doors on me, hissing, and even creeping around my bed at night. And the most bizarre thing was that he looked very much like Gollum, from the Lord of the Rings movies.
            Now he had my full attention. I tried talking to him, explaining that we were making the home better, that we didn’t mind sharing our space with him, anything I could think of, but it didn’t calm him at all. Then my husband confessed.
            One night before bed, he marched across the hall and slammed the bathroom door. “I can’t take it.” He grumbled. “He won’t quit staring at me.” After talking for a while I realized that he had been picking up on our housemate as well, and that he was thoroughly freaked out. We didn’t know what to do. We’d already poured all of our money in this house, so we couldn’t just leave, but we were scared in our own home.
            Later that night I was jerked awake. “I saw him.” My husband hissed. Instantly, I was up. I hadn’t mentioned my impressions on what this man looked like earlier in the evening. But as I listened, he described exactly what I’d seen. Except he’d seen a physical apparition, glowing in the hall. But instead of scaring us into leaving, our poor ghost just made us mad.
            He couldn’t have picked two worse people to intimidate. I had been around ghosts all my life, and my husband is the most suborn man on the face of the planet, so we just dug our heels in, ignoring the flashing lights, slamming doors, missing belongings, and grotesque face that liked to pop out of nowhere.
            And then something major happened. I found out I was pregnant. About the time my “momma bear” instincts kicked in, our ghost tried to scare me while I was planning the nursery room. So I did the sane, logical, thing. I yelled at him. A lot.
            I informed him that he was dead, and that this was my house. If he didn’t like it, he was more than welcome to leave. Then I told him that the room we were standing in was my baby’s room and that he would not bother either one of us.
            I had no idea what I planned to do to back up those threats, but fortunately, I didn’t need to. I seemed to have found a language he understood, because he hasn’t bothered me since.
            Oh, he’s still here. I’ve seen his real face now. He’s still a skinny, withered, old man, but he’s just a grump, not a terrifying monster. I feel him hanging around, watching my home-improvement projects carefully, waiting for me to take a shortcut, I imagine. And he actually seems to like my son. I’ve caught my little boy babbling and making faces at an empty chair more than once, and one time, late at night, I heard an old man’s voice coming from the nursery, talking about modern baby toys.
            After making sure there was no physical old man in my baby’s room, I decided that we may have finally come to an acceptable living arrangement. My husband, however, still insists that we keep the bathroom door closed at night.  J