The Ghost Tree
Do you know about the beast that lived in the walls of my family’s house? I’m certain most do not know of it, or of the sounds it made when I was small, and alone at home. Some people will chalk it up to a child with fears and an overactive imagination.
1976 is the year I am referring to, and in my world at the edge of the small town we lived in, I was just six years old. My brother and I shared a room. He was two years older than I and he had ownership of the top bunk in our bedroom.
Something invisible roamed our house. Something terrible which caused me to feel afraid. Many nights, I laid awake wondering what would happen if I looked beneath my bed. Would I find something, or someone there? If I got up to use the bathroom, would I have to close my eyes to keep from seeing faces in the water of the toilet bowl? Every time I went there at night, faces glared at me from the surface of the water. Their eyes and mouths stretched into horrible contortions. The water glowed white and the silence of the faces made me feel even more uncomfortable.
There were two faces, sometimes three, always varying sizes. They never bothered me directly, but they always terrified me, nonetheless. I’d been seeing them regularly since I was about three, or so years old. I know this because back then, we lived in a different house when it had started. My father had been overseas in Vietnam repairing planes that were shot down during the war around 1973.
We still had my mom to care for us. My mother was wonderful, and did her best to calm our young minds. I can admit, the faces may well have been the result of missing my father, and the stress of that, but I’ll never know for certain. I cannot remember when the faces stopped appearing. All I know for sure is that when I was five, and in bed late at night, there was something in the walls. Something sinister worked its way to the surface and I felt it tingle under my skin. It made the hair on my arms stand up and yes, it also woke me up many times. That’s how I know I wasn’t imagining it. It woke me up.
One night, when I was about five or six years old, a sound like thunder woke me. I looked outside my window and there was no rain, no signs of lightning. That night, I heard a new noise. It came from the hallway through my open bedroom door. I whispered my brother’s name, just to see if he was awake. Nothing. No response.
The noise sounded like a heartbeat, a loud, deep, rhythmic beating. I got up out of my covers and looked up to see that my brother was either asleep, or he faked his slumber so I would be the only available target of what lay beyond the door.
Once in the hallway, the sound grew louder. To my left, my parent’s bedroom door stood closed, as was normal for them. Across from our room, my baby sister’s room also had the door closed. The opposite end of the hallway ended with the door to the bathroom on the left, and also opened to the dining room, but I didn’t want to go out there. The hair on my arms stood on end and I knew something terrible waited for me. I stepped into the hall with my arms tingling.
I walked in silence down the carpeted hall floor. The bathroom was dark. From the hallway, I could just make out the shape of the toilet within. A soft white glow illuminated the porcelain bowl from the water so I knew the faces were there waiting for me. I didn’t go in.
Then I heard it. The sound, like a heart beating in my ears. “Whump whump…” It sounded like it came from the wall between the bathroom and my parents' bedroom. It continued beating and I wondered why nobody else woke up. It was so loud I covered my ears with my hands. That’s when the wall undulated like a wave. The wave moved across the wall from the bathroom door to my parents bedroom door and then disappeared.
As a child, I knew this was not normal. I ran back to my bed. I prayed the prayer I said often in those days. "God, please watch over me and my family. Please keep the monsters away. And if I die before I wake, I understand. I’m sorry I am so awful.”
I don’t think we are ever prepared to see something unnatural. The very meaning of the word
says it all: u-n-n-a-t-u-r-a-l.
Yes, even Google says: un·nat·u·ral . /ˌənˈnaCH(ə)rəl/
· contrary to the ordinary course of nature; abnormal.
"death by unnatural causes"
I don’t know why, but few things in my life have been normal. A few years ago, on a camping trip, I struggled to tell a ghost story to a group of friends. It was about an experience I had at work where I saw a ghost and it followed me home.
Everyone looked at me wondering when I was going to drop a punchline. When I realized this I asked, “Has anyone else here ever seen a ghost?” Nobody had. So, I dropped the subject there and then. That’s the thing with ghosts, if you’ve seen one, you understand in a way apart from others. If you’ve never experienced the paranormal, you simply won’t get it, and chalk it up to fantasy. It’s difficult to come off as relevant and credible when talking about those things which few others perceive as real. Do you know what I mean? I have a feeling you do.
I wanted to share a little about myself, so you all know why I write the things I do. I’ve seen and heard things that I cannot explain. I’ve walked in darkness and come out into the light, only to find my way back in. There’s a pile of unusual situations in my past, things which to me can only be explained as paranormal. Sometimes events are planted in our minds like seeds. Once planted, they can take root and grow. I have seen some ghosts, and now what grows in my mind is a great tree, a ghost tree. The funny thing is, I have a bad habit of always choosing to pick the low hanging fruit.