The house across the street is haunted. It has to be. The sharp peaks of the roof, topped with ornate spires, reach eerily through the trees toward the darkening sky. Every window looks like it could hold the ghostly outline of a woman in white, or a child waving, or something equally mysterious. The widow’s walk is practically made for ghost sightings, its worn wood slats creaking faintly, footsteps from a bygone memory. I watch it late at night from the balcony of my hotel room, hoping to spot some sign from the beyond.
I’ve encountered ghosts before, but only with my other senses. The smell of perfume wafting down the hallway of a famous hotel. The heavy footfalls and slamming cabinets of the well-known specter in my grandparents’ home. And once, the icy grip of an unfamiliar hand on my leg as I slept on an old pull-out couch. To me, these experiences suggest that otherworldly beings move among us all the time. But seeing must be believing, because here I am, in the blue twilight, wrapped in a blanket, hoping to be convinced.
Eventually, I succumb to exhaustion and make my way back to the hotel bed. I’m asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. Across the street, the windows of the house are dark. The delicate white lace curtains hang undisturbed. The air is still.
My ghost-hunting evening seeps into my dreams, and I wake up slightly spooked. Outside my window, in the warm sunlight, even a crow perched on the highest spire fails to make the house look ominous. A lush green lawn teeming with birds and squirrels surrounds the wide front porch. Two well worn chairs sit side by side on the porch. I wonder who used to sit in those chairs, and what they used to think about as they rocked back and forth on that creaky wooden deck. I wonder if one hundred years from now, someone will peer into the darkened windows of my house, hoping to see a ghostly image in the upstairs window. I wonder if I’ll be there, staring back at them.
Originally published at workingtowardokay.com in 2021.