Thirteen

Andddd… we’re back for another week of LJ Idol! This week’s topic is “In Another Castle”. Not being a fiction writer I wasn’t sure at first where I’d go with this. A few people got me brainstorming some ideas and I’ve decided to write about one of my FAVORITE topics…the paranormal. So without further ado, below is my take on this week’s topic.

(and remember to look for the link to vote on Tuesday!)

– M

___

It was a warm, breezy fall evening like any other in my hometown of Bradenton, Florida. My neighborhood best friend and I were doing what we had done on many a school night; sitting in the front yard of my home and chatting about boys. The darkness was starting to set in and soon it’d be time to go inside and get ready for the following day. I glanced somewhat nervously in the direction of my back yard.

I had always felt a little apprehensive about going back there at night. I didn’t have any clear reason to be apprehensive but I always felt as if I wasn’t alone.  On this night my apprehension would be replaced by pure terror.

I expected to see the pitch blackness deep in the back of the yard. The yard was filled with large shade-filling trees that rarely let light in. I didn’t expect, however, to see a white figure moving in our direction. I can only describe the figure as a contained mist. It was loosely in the shape of a person but there were no clear distinct features and no sound came from the figure’s movement.

I must have stopped mid-sentence because my friend turned to look in the direction I was facing. Her exact words were “Wha-what is THAT?!” Knowing that I was not the only one seeing the figure sealed the deal. I jumped up and said “I don’t know, but I’m not sticking around to find out!” I made a beeline for the front door with my girlfriend hot on my heels. We stopped before going inside and looked at each other and I asked her, “Did we really just see that?”. She responded with an urgent “Yes!” and we bolted inside. I locked the door and immediately ran to the french doors that lead to the back yard and locked them as well.

I wasn’t sure what we had seen, all that I knew is that I was shaking from fear.  Up to this point in my life I had no interest in the paranormal. I had no reason to believe that there’d be a ‘ghost’ in my yard. I had always figured that my uneasiness with the back yard was due to my fear of the dark, which still, to an extent, exists today.

My girlfriend recounted to me what she had seen and it was most certainly the same thing that I had witnessed. My mother was in the shower when we ran inside so we sat quietly in the living room waiting for her to come out. I’m fairly certain that she told me we were being silly as we told her the story and told me to get ready for bed.

The following day at school I confided the experience to a couple of friends. One of my classmates overheard and said that he believed we were seeing spots because a car must have driven by and the headlights blinded us. At that point in time I would have liked to believe nothing more. Unfortunately there were no cars driving by at the time and our back yard backed up to a creek… not a road.

My childhood best friend lived just two houses down from me. We could see one another’s back yard from our own. There were no dividers and no fences. About a week or two after my experience my friend said to me “Were you in your back yard late last night?” She didn’t know that I was terribly afraid of being in the back yard at night (I was too embarrassed to tell anyone I was afraid of the dark back then). I explained that I wasn’t and she got a confused look on her face. She told me that she had been in the back yard with her boyfriend late the night before and had seen what she thought was me walking around in a white night gown. I told her she must have been mistaken and she said that she was so sure she had seen me that they had even called my name but that “I” hadn’t responded. This was a huge validation for me.

To this day, even after I’ve learned and experienced so many different things, I cannot say exactly what we saw that night. I have since learned that my mother had a stepsister who died of a flu-like virus (Hong Kong flu) when she was only 12 years old. She had frequently stayed the night in the house that I grew up in but had lived (and died) in a house on the next street over. Coincidence? Possibly. Uncanny? Definitely.

That was my first experience with the “paranormal” and it has never left me. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to find an explanation for what I had seen… be it supernatural, scientific or natural. Over the 21 years that have passed since that first experience I’ve encountered many more unexplained events that have led me to be a firm belief that we are not alone in this world. I’ll never stop looking for the next experience. Will it be in a cemetery? Probably not. Will it be in an old abandoned building? You never know. Will I be prepared when it happens? Definitely not… but I can’t wait.

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