Picture this: It’s 1989. Like a Prayer is the Number One song, and we’re all in love with Frank from Home and Away and the Coreys from The Lost Boys.
Six pre-teen girls in their daggiest pjs and animal slippers, sleeping bags and pillows spread all over the lounge room floor, are huddled around the coffee table. There have been videos, pizza, chips, gossip, giggling, and lots of talk about boys. Finally it’s really late. Someone suggests it and no one wants to chicken out. The lights are dimmed and the rest of the house is silent with sleep. Torn pieces of paper form a circle around the table top – hastily scrawled numbers 0 to 9, the alphabet, and Yes, No, Maybe, written and pink and purple smelly pens (remember them?). I think the ‘I’ and ‘j’ had hearts for dots.
An upside down glass sits in the middle of the circle, and we’re giggling with anticipation and self induced fright, huddled together, reluctant to place our fingers on the glass and set the ouija board into motion….but we do. And after a couple of false starts (“I was NOT pushing it! You were!”, “Omigod! What was that noise?”), the gaggle descends into terrified quiet, whispering questions that clearly only a ghost would know. You know, like “Does Liam like me?”, “Is Mrs Harris having it off with Mr Turner?” or “Will I have big boobs one day?” Serious questions to ask the spirit world – when you are twelve! The glass is moving, spelling out answers which we all quietly whispered, letter by letter. We are terrified but entranced; it is working! After a few minutes of pretty lame questions one of my brave friends asks the spirits for a physical sign that they are there. We hold our collective breaths.
Until we caught sight of my mother’s rocking chair in the corner. The mere thought of it still gives me goose bumps – it was moving on its own, back and forth ever so slightly in the dim light. Propped in its seat was the big rag doll my mother loved who in that moment looked positively demonic. In nanoseconds we were up, whisper-shrieking, grabbing at the paper pieces before bolting outside, snagging a matchbox on the way. It took ages for the match to light. My hands were shaking so badly but the little paper pile dumped in the garden bed went up in flames. Conscious of not setting the fernery on fire, we poured water on it and watched it sizzle out; relieved we had “stopped” the spirits. I think we were supposed to smash the glass too but that wasn’t the best idea at 2am! The spirits were released now, not going to communicate with us anymore. Then, as we turned to head back inside an evil, angry face appeared at the laundry door window. It hovered there for a moment before the door began to open…..
If the neighbours weren’t already awake, they certainly were now! The screams and carry on would have woken the dead (had they not already been in our presence, haha). Turns out it was not an angry ghost, but instead my VERY angry mum. She told us all off, marched us back inside, and advised in no uncertain terms that everyone’s parents would be called to collect them if we didn’t go to sleep. Now.
Despite the subsequent grounding I endured, I still recall that night so vividly, with both fondness and thrilling fear. I don’t know if that chair really moved. Nonetheless the experience not only cemented young friendships and made for an awesome story on Monday, but it opened my eyes to ghosts and the spirit world. Granted, my rocking chair was no Fruit Roll-Up in an IGA, but gosh it scared the pants off me and I am SO sure it really happened. I think.
Since then I have loved being scared by ghost stories, and watching Ghost Hunter type shows. I’ve never done another séance, but I’ve (nervously) participated in ghost tours, spoken to mediums, researched haunted houses, sightings, visited Edinburgh Castle and The Tower of London, and would love to spend the night at Monte Cristo here in Australia. I believe I have both seen the spirit of my grandfather who passed twenty odd years ago, and had a physical encounter with a spirit at the Q Station in Manly.
Is it all my imagination? Maybe. Maybe even probably. But is it fun and thrilling? Absolutely. I may not have definitive proof in many peoples’ eyes, but then, who does? I just love the idea of The Other Side. And being scared.
Shae Blizzard is in her mid thirties. In her rare spare time, she reads like a demon and attempts to write supernatural chick lit and historical comedy mysteries.
What about you? Do you believe? Have you ever seen a ghost? What’s the scariest, most ghostly thing that has happened to you?