I admit I didn't know what to write about this week.
With my real life having been stressful and frightening enough (some of you may remember that my beloved kitty Brandy was in the hospital because of seizures — but PRAISE THE GREAT KITTEN IN THE SKY! She just came home!!!), every spooky story I looked into or chatted about with people paled in comparison.
Frankly, my creepy, crusty heart just wasn't in it.
Most nights this week I found myself awake well into the wee small hours, looking for ways to take my mind off of my troubles. When I'm feeling really down, I like to clean, especially late at night.
Last night, I decided to tackle the cardboard boxes that have been sitting under my desk for the past seven months. Aside from my fear that they were becoming cockroach command centers, I wondered if they contained some of the books I'd been missing since we moved from Japan.
Rummaging through the first box I found some old photos, some costume jewelry, and a stack of my mom's business cards. She gives them to me in case I meet real estate agents in Hong Kong who might want to send her business in Texas. Like you do.
It seems that I had happened upon the "Dallas boxes" that I had sent myself when I was home last, and had dragged along to Hong Kong when I moved. Very "un-Louise." I'm all for getting rid of shit, not accumulating. But perhaps the world works in eerie ways...
The next box I opened was filled with books and documents. A few of the books were my childhood diaries.
Spreading the diaries out on my apartment floor, I got comfy with a mug of wine and the perfect distraction. I don't know if you've ever read over your childhood diaries or journals, but I've always found them to be a treasure trove of comedy. And well, the stuff of Creepy Corners.
Having kept diaries since I was in first grade, I got a kick out of reading through the progression of my life, watching my spelling and penmanship improve (sort of), and marveling at how I am fundamentally the same as I am now. Of course my diaries were peppered with "ghostly happenings."
Dad just yelled at me for slamming the door. It's so unfair! I didn't do it. I was up here [my bedroom] and I heard it slam too!! By itself!!!!!!!!!!I think it was the ghost, do you Diary? Oh well.
I'm of course editing my former self for spelling and clarity, otherwise I'd loOK LiKe a sERiaL kIlLeR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There was the hand again! ON THE BACK OF MY CHAIR! It was like bones and whiteness. Mom and dad won't believe me. Maybe if perfect ol', pretty ol' NATASHA told them.
Natasha was my cousin who came to live with us for a summer. She had a classy English accent and her clothes always matched. I hated her sometimes.
Diary, I'm FREAKING OUT!!! My closet door! It couldn't have been the wind. Do you think it's like Mar Mar's closet? Oooooooh Nooooooooooooo! Diary, I'm going to set a trap.
What are you setting a trap for 3rd grade Louise?! And just to clarify, Mar Mar is what I called my grandma who lived with us for a time.
As I continued to read through my diary entries, I noticed that I kept talking about "Mar Mar's closet" and pondering whether or not I might have the same things happening. My Mar Mar was a masterful storyteller, with a flair for the dramatic, so I wondered if I was just confusing bizarre goings-on in my house with a "scarytale" she'd concocted.
Honestly, I hadn't thought about my Mar Mar's "closet ghost" story in decades.
Then I came across a entry that started like this:
OK. Diary, I have to tell you about Mar Mar. Do you think ghosts know about her? It's SO weird. But I'm weird. But maybe because....................she's weird? Anyways, Diary, I feel like I have to be honest with you..............
Did I mention that my diary was basically a substitute for real, live friends?
Anyway, after reading over that entry and a few others, I more clearly recall the story my Mar Mar told me about her closet, the "dark visitor", and why I thought I might be DOOMED to be haunted too (is this the beginning to a terrible horror movie?).
Bear with me Creepy Corneristas, this is a weird one. But if anybody appreciates the odd scraps of my past, it's you all.
When Mar Mar was little...
There was a big closet in her room. She could walk all the way into it, and she could barely reach her dresses on her tiptoes. She always made sure to close up the closet tight at night.
Because at night she'd hear scratching. Diary, like the scratching in the hallway door!!!
"Scratchy, scratchy, scratchy," I can hear my Mar Mar putting on her high voice for the scratching sound. She'd hear scratching from the inside of the closet door. This is when she'd dive under the covers — "ai-yah!"— and fall asleep hiding. Sometimes there was scratching, sometimes there wasn't.
But one night she looked out from under her blanket!!!
I still remember that feeling of hiding in fear but NEEDING to know what was out there.
The closet door was open. Black as night.
She certainly hadn't left the closet open, that would never happen. As my Mar Mar watched the dark room — "There was just the moon" — she saw something move. Was it one of her sisters playing a joke? A rat? (Fun Fact: My Mar Mar loved rats and used to sew them dresses when she was kid. Imagine a house full of rats running around in dresses.)
BUT IT WASN'T A PERSON! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, Diary? It was a GHOST!! Did it follow her here?
In the corner, by the closet, my Mar Mar saw a dark shape. It was tall and blacker-than-black, and my Mar Mar said it was watching her. She told it to "Go away!" and hid under the covers again, where she fell asleep.
I wouldn't have slept, Diary. But what would you do?
My Mar Mar got used to sleeping under the covers, occasionally peeking out to see if the closet door had opened. More often than not, it had. Over time she actually became accustomed to seeing the dark shape in the corner, "Oh it was very scary, but I'd just hide and say 'Go away! Go away!' and it left me alone."
But then things changed. It started getting closer. Every night, closer and closer it got.
First it was far away. Then it was in the middle of the room, then it was RIGHT BY THE BED!
Mar Mar thought she might be going mad.
The dark figure visited her almost every night for weeks. Mar Mar always felt like it was watching her, even though, "It had no eyes only blackness. But it had a head, and it had a body." It filled her with dread.
...like the ghost that was slapping its leg when it walked up to me in my room at night...
One night when she lifted her covers to look out, she saw only blackness. The figure was standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER. "Everything was black, it blocked out the moonlight."
She yelled, it flew into the ceiling. Or flew away. I would have wet my pants! I know how she felt.
After that, Mar Mar only occasionally saw "the visitor." The older she got, the less often the dark figure came around. But it never fully went away, and Mar Mar said that sometimes, even in her eighties, she saw the figure in her room. This I clearly remember her saying, "Oh...I still get so scared. It followed me."
Diary, do you think the ghost followed Mar Mar HERE? Is it in my room? Don't you think?
I wish I remembered more about my Mar Mar's ghost story. There were so many nights I went to her room, sat on her bed as she finished up watching Golden Girls, and asked her to tell me a story. While she wasn't as "ghostly inclined" as my other family members, she never shied away from dark tales. (You should have heard her tell Cinderella... blood, birds, and being buried alive.)
And I always, always felt safe with her.
But going over my diary entries — many of which are rather cryptic — I am more than a little creeped out by my many mentions of the "closet ghost" "following" Mar Mar to my house. While I do have a memory of a dark figure approaching me in the night, I only remember bits and pieces of other "ghosts."
Could there be a connection? I may be going out on a big ol' haunted limb, but can experiences span generations? Or did Mar Mar just make up a whopper of a ghost story?
What came first, the ghost story or the ghost? And why do I remember so little about what seemed to frighten me so much?
With my Mar Mar long gone and my memories getting dustier everyday, I wonder if this minor mystery will ever be solved? Unless Mar Mar wants to send me an answer from beyond...
Have you ever found strange or spooky writings in old diaries? From childhood? Have you ever unearthed eerie things from your youth that chill you now? Do you have a "ghostly" or unexplainable connection with any of your relatives?
Give me a few more reasons to stay up tonight.