When I was quite young, about 6 or 7, my parents had finally moved out of the small flat they had been living in since I was born. The house we moved into was semi-detached, but we had good neighbors. My younger brother, who is two years younger than me, was very annoying and clingy. Besides that, everything in the house was fine for a while.
But then strange creaking noises started to come from the stairs, as if someone was walking up them constantly. The boiler in my brother’s bedroom bubbled and hissed when you entered his room, but never at any other time.
Soon we got use to these things as just a part of the house, thinking it probably just needed a bit of TLC to get things sorted. We had been there for a few months and had celebrated my brother’s birthday just a few days before, so all his toys lay on my bedroom floor. My bedroom was where we played, because the boiler scared my brother.
I was sleeping soundly in my bed when a small tap at my bedroom door woke me up. I heard small sobs, which immediately got me out of bed, for I knew it was my brother whimpering at my door. He must have heard me moving out of bed, because he opened my door and sobbingly whispered that he wanted me to take him to the toilet.
I was a bit angry, for he was old enough to go to the toilet by himself, so I said no, thinking of nothing more than how much I wanted to sleep. His sobbing got worse and he clasped my pajama sleeve.
“But the man at the bottom of the stairs won’t let me go,” he whimpered.
I froze. What man? I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t wake my parents in case it was another joke to make me scared – though it worked quite well. I told him to show me the man, so we walked out onto the landing at the top of the stairs and peered though the banister. Nothing. Finally, my brother went to the toilet, even though I had to stay by his side. We went back upstairs and I told him he must have had a nightmare or was seeing things. He grudgingly went back to bed.
The next morning, my brother told my parents what had happened – and to our surprise, they believed him. Later in our stay there, things went missing from my room and items weren’t in the same place you left them in when you came back from leaving the room. At one point my mother commented on how cold my room was even though it was summer. Stranger still, my room always smelt of potpourri even though my mother hated the stuff and never bought it.
More and more, I had nightmares about being chased, or about things lurking under my bed. But always in my dreams there was a man standing there who would try to help me.
After a bad dream, I often sough my parents’ bed for comfort. Fed up with this, they asked the neighbors if anything like this had happened to their kids. The neighbor said no, but did tell my mother something that changed what my parents thought of the house. We found out from this neighbor that the previous tenants of our house were an old man and his two sisters. It turned out that the man had died in his chair – which had been set in what was now our living room. But what shocked Mum the most was that his bedroom was now my bedroom.
My parents spent the day talking about if our house was haunted; even my father had experienced strange things in the house, but hadn’t told us. We all came to the conclusion that the old man had never left after his death. Maybe he missed his sisters, or maybe he lingered for some other reason. We weren’t sure. It was soon suggested that since only scary things had happened to the men in our house, the ghost must have been very protective of his sisters and was maybe even being protective of the women. My parents decided that we wouldn’t move, and we should try and live with it.
Soon spooky things became normal, to the point where I would say hello when walking into my room and my brother knocked on doors to rooms he knew were empty. The ghost of the old man never scared us again, but we could all feel his presence. It was a warm presence that was always felt strongly in my room, like a protective blanket.
Three years ago, the house flooded and we had to move. We were sad to leave, and my wonderings if he would move with us were not realized; sadly, he didn’t, and now and again when I pass my old house I peer up at my old bedroom just to see if I might catch a glimpse of him.
Thank you, old man. You helped me understand that ghosts shouldn’t be feared but respected.