I walked to work in the freshly fallen morning snow one day this week. The moist snow lay heavy on the ground; the world was muffled. All was pristine and quiet.
I marveled at the way the snow curled around the fence posts like snakes and I ruminated on ghosts.
“To become a ghost, Your Death has to be a surprise.” (p. 263)
(Bridge/by Jeri Smith-Ready pp. 233 – 284)
The first ghost I became acquainted with was probably Casper, the Friendly Ghost. My grandparents (my father’s parents) had a box of comics at their farm and they were mostly Harvey & Archie comics, all very family friendly. What I remember most about Casper is that he was good and had three rotten older brothers. Was there a girl ghost? I’m not sure. I definitely don’t remember any parents. At least, the Archie gang had parents and some gender diversity.
So, my first ghost role model was friendly, male and possibly an orphan. He was not at all scary and his brothers were annoyingly real just like my siblings.
And now, Casper even has a Facebook page!
The first ghosts I remember scaring me vividly were poltergeists. I read a lot of historical fiction when I was younger and there were many historical supernatural books geared to pre-teen readers (such as those written by Richard Peck). I read about the Fox sisters, one of the earlier spiritualist cons, when I was thirteen. This was about the same time that I was reading Carrie (and feeling as mis-judged and wishing I had maleficent supernatural powers). At the same time I came across a paperback that centered on a haunted gazing ball in a garden. I always can remember the plot vividly but can never remember the title (it’s Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp). The cover picture still gives me shivers and it’s ghosts like this (ghosts who are active participants with needs and wants and yearnings) that stir my imagination with “what ifs.”
The first movie ghost I feel in love with was the sea captain in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a sea chanty about death and romance. Here the ghost is a man who by the end of it his life regrets leaving his home and family and is fortunate enough to get a second chance. Perhaps I liked it because it showed a man growing into the responsibility of what being a husband and father meant. I grew up without a man in the house and must have longed for something!
I was haunted by what I could not foresee having – a responsible man in my life.
My current go to author for ghost stories is Joe Hill. I adore his novel Heart Shaped Box and short story collection praising 20th Century Ghosts. In Heart Shaped Box, a man buys a ghost off some online auction site and horror and fear is unleashed into his life. I’m intrigued by antiques and like to make up stories about their past owners. Remember my apartment is full of dead people’s stuff!
Tor is currently running a Ghost Week over on their site. They’ve compiled an A to Z list of ghosts.
V is for Vetala (Hindu folklore): Spirits who tend to haunt places of burial and charnel grounds; trapped between life and the afterlife, they can take possession of corpses and cause all kinds of crazy trouble for the living.
This is the sort of ghost I would become. A Vetala still haunting cemeteries, intrigued in death as in life with cemeteries and graveyards.
“I’ve forgotten how to take up space.” (p. 317)
(Leaving/by Ally Condie pp. 302 – 321)
Now, I watch Beetlejuice and contemplate my plans for Samhain and Día de los Muertos.
I enjoy the gothy humour of Lio and his other-worldly pals.
Later that day, the walk home was dull and colder. The wind pushed at my back hurrying me home to comfort and warmth. I gave no more thoughts to horror and fear.
I ruminated on ghosts.
All quotes from the Young Adult anthology:
Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions
edited by Melissa Marr & Kelley Armstrong
N.Y.: Harper, 2011