After graduating from college, I moved into an old Victorian home near downtown Indianapolis. I had three roommates and enjoyed my new neighborhood. I would babysit some of the little kids on our block from time to time. A couple doors down, lived a hippy couple who had a towheaded toddler named Ruby. The husband was a sculptor and his wife, Allison, was in her early 20s like me.
Allison carried most of our conversations with her bubbly, outgoing nature. One night she asked me to watch Ruby so the couple could go out for the evening. It was the easiest babysitting job ever as Ruby was already fast asleep. I just needed to hang out and be there in case Ruby woke.
“We pulled our TV out for you,” Allison said. It was an old black and white TV with bunny ear antennas covered in foil. I could get one station clearly by manipulating the antennas, all other stations were full of static and lines at best. I should have brought a book.
“We never watch TV and we’ve never let Ruby watch,” Allison proudly shared. The couple said their goodbyes and I settled into the chair near the TV to enjoy the best entertainment 1992 had to offer.
Their home wasn’t as updated as the house I was living in. However, it felt comfortable and safe, despite all the creaks and noises old houses offer. I fell into the lull that TV affords me. An hour had passed when I noticed someone standing next to me in my peripheral vision.
I knew what I was seeing wasn’t a physical being. I wasn’t scared in the moment, I was curious. I turned my head and could see a little girl about 7 years old. She had a cheeky grin on her face, like she was playing a game with me and was giggling, covering her mouth with her hand. I studied her from head to toe. She had two blonde braids tied with cloth on the ends and some sort of ruffled head covering. I knew she wasn’t physically there, but I was seeing her and sensed her general personality and mood. She had a flowery, ruffled dress that came down mid-calf and a white smock. I stared at her boots. There were buttons. So many buttons. Personally, I preferred shoes that were easy to slip on and off and all those buttons to hook and unhook were unfathomable to a lazy gal like me. In my head I heard her giggle.
I looked back at the TV and then back to where she’d just been, but she was gone. I spent the rest of the evening soothing myself. “This is totally normal. I’m not crazy. I just imagined it. I’m an artist, of course I would imagine a ghost in an old house.” The self-talk helped keep the scariest thoughts at bay and I was so relieved when the couple returned home. Feigning exhaustion, I bolted as fast as I could.
Once home I met one of my roommates in the kitchen while I fixed myself a midnight PB&J.
“How was babysitting?” Ray asked.
“Fine,” I replied. “They have ghosts.” I’m not sure why I told him. It had been on my mind and I’d known Ray since high school, so I felt comfortable sharing.
He laughed. “Really?!?!”
“Yep,” and I took my sandwich upstairs and put it all behind me.
The next morning Allison banged on our door looking for me. “Ray told me you saw ghosts in our house last night.” I felt panicked and cornered. Thanks Ray. I’d forgotten Ray had never understood discretion. “Tell me!” Allison demanded.
I retold my story of the little girl, adding that I probably made it up in my head. I didn’t want to freak her out or make her feel uncomfortable in her home.
When I finished my story Allison looked relieved and excited. “I’ve seen the children too!”
I had just seen one child, but Allison told me stories of hearing children playing and laughing in her home. One time she heard laughter coming from the front room where her husband’s workshop was. She was alone in the house with Ruby, so she investigated the source of these noises. As she walked towards the room and opened the pocket doors, a line of children of various ages boisterously ran to and then through her, scampering their way up the stairs behind her.
Her daughter Ruby was just learning how to put words together. While playing, Ruby would talk with her make believe friends by name. She used names Allison had never heard of. She knew Ruby hadn’t picked them up from TV because Ruby had never watched TV. They weren’t from the books she had read to Ruby either.
“Why didn’t you tell us last night?” Allison asked.
“I don’t know. It sounds crazy.”
“I guess we’re all crazy then.” Allison smiled.
Have you ever seen or heard what you thought was a ghost in your home? Have you ever had an experience like this but felt like you couldn’t share for fear of seeming crazy? If you’d like to share, please do. I’d love to hear!