Apr 19, 2013
Do you believe in ghosts?
I have had a few paranormal experiences in my lifetime. By paranormal, I simply mean that some things have happened to me that I could not explain. That is not to say that what happened cannot be explained or that it can only be explained by supernatural means. Today, I'd like to share an experience from my past. Take it to mean what you will. As for me, I'm content to let it remain unexplained.
When I was 16 years old, we took a week-long family vacation to Cape May, New Jersey. When we arrived, we learned that the town of Cape May was an historical landmark, and as such, all of the buildings there needed to follow certain codes. It was absolutely beautiful and, other than the cars, looked as if it had sprung out of a history textbook. Cape May is directly on the Atlantic coast. People rent bikes to ride along the picturesque streets and buy kites to fly on the sandy beach in the summer. They go sun bathing and body boarding beneath crystal clear blue skies. At least, they did when I was 16.
My parents had rented the right half of an old house. Inside, there were three narrow floors. On the ground floor was a living room, a dining room, a kitchen and a small bathroom. The second and third floors had only bedrooms. My younger brother and I ran to the top floor and immediately chose bedrooms up there. The room I chose was between the other two. To get to it, I had to climb the final flight of stairs, turn around the banister, take a few steps down the hallway and then turn left. My brother's room was farther down that same hallway, directly at the end of it. My parents chose a room on the second floor. I was thrilled to be up on the top floor. Not only could I see the ocean from my bedroom window, I could hear the surf. It was perfect!
The first night, nothing strange happened to me, but when I woke, I learned that during the night my brother had moved down to the second floor into a room that connected to my parents' room. I didn't really think anything of it. Maybe I was still holding a grudge from a few years earlier when I'd wanted to pitch a tent and stay out in the backyard, only my parents would only allow it if there were at least two of us out there, and then when my brother got scared and wanted to go back inside, my mom wouldn't let me return to the tent. Okay, maybe I'm still holding that grudge.
The next night, I said 'goodnight' to my family on the second floor and headed up to the third floor by myself. With each step as I climbed higher, it became more and more difficult to breathe and my heart pounded harder and faster. I rounded the banister and the feelings intensified, but as soon as I entered my room, those physical sensations immediately vanished. Because it creeped me out, I wore my headphones to bed that night and fell asleep to music rather than to the sound of the ocean waves pounding upon the shore outside my open window. The next night was the same. In fact, every night was like that for the rest of the week. But I didn't tell anyone. I'd learned my lesson well from that tent experience. I knew if I told my parents what was going on, they'd make me move down to the second floor too, and I was not about to give up my most awesome room.
Flash forward to the next summer. My mom and I went for a walk. Prior to the walk, she'd been listening to a CD she'd purchased at Cape May because one of the songs, "Cristofori's Dream" by David Lanz, reminded her of the beach. She asked me what I'd thought of that family vacation.
I answered honestly, "I loved it. All except for that one room."
Then she asked me a strange question. "Has your brother ever told you why he switched rooms?"
I said, no, and she suggested that I ask him about it sometime.
Sometime ended up being years later. You know how conversations drift from one topic to the next, and by the time we returned home, I simply forgot to ask him about it. It just wasn't that important to me, I guess. So years later, my husband and I invited my brother and his girlfriend over for dinner. One topic led to the next and we began to reminisce.
Suddenly, I remembered and said, "Oh, Mom said I should ask you why you switched rooms at Cape May."
His answer was interesting, to say the least. He said he'd woken up that first night from a terrible nightmare. Not only that, but his room was absolutely freezing, and it was so dark he couldn't even see his hand in front of his face. That is why he high-tailed it to a room on the second floor.
So there it is. Take it for what you will.
S.L. Wallace is the author of the Reliance on Citizens trilogy and Retrospection.