Linggo, Hunyo 12, 2011

The Charming House Ghost

The family had just moved into their new apartment, a government project that had been built in two years earlier. The youngest of the family's four siblings, a nine year old girl, was excited at having a bed of her very own, though she would have to share the room with her brothers. She made a beeline for the room and began unpacking and fixing her things.

As she unpacked the boxes in which her things were stored, shafts of late afternoon sun slanted in through the bare window she smelled fresh paint and sawdust. Though she was alone, the girl felt she had company in the room.

Bedtime came soon enough and the girl's brothers were still out, all of them being college boys who had evening classes and barkadas to go out with after class. Her parents' snore came through the wall dividing her space and theirs and she went to bed in her favorite pink pajamas with the reassurance that Mom and Dad were within yelling distance.

The girl was dreaming about her pets, a cat and a chicken, when she felt one side of her bed sink beneath her. Startled from sleep, she sat bolt upright, letting her tattered old security blanket fell to her waist, and looked in the direction where she had felt the weight on the bed.

Lo, she was not akone in her room--or in bed for that matter. Sitting by her left thigh was another girl who was about her age. The child had long black hair that covered the left side of her face and she was clad in a white nightgown. One round, black eyes was fixed on her. "Hi there," the child in the white nightgown said. "I'm sorry if I woke you, I was just watching you sleep."

"Who are you and how did you get in here?" The front door is locked with a deadbolt, I locked it myself," the little girl asked the child who sat calmly on her bed, staring at her.

"My name is Victoria and I live here," the girl in the white nightgown said, ignoring the query how she had gotten into the bedroom.

"Live here? I live here. We just moved here," the girl in the pink pajamas said. "I must be dreaming, but I am really sure you woke me up, so what gives?"

"I guess I have to start at the very beginning," Victoria said. "I live here and have lived here since before this apartment building was built. I'm dead now, but I still live here, if that makes sense to you."

The child must be a ghost, then, the little girl in the pink pajamas thought to herself. She ignored the fear tapping a cold finger on the nape of her neck and decided Victoria wasn't so bad after all, since she didn't try to be frightening or disgusting, she decided to talk with Victoria like she was just a regular kid.

The night deepened and a full moon shone its light through the window as the two girls, one alive and one a ghost, chatted as if they were at a sleep over. The girl in pink pajamas found out that her new friend had lived in the housing settlement that had burned down two years ago before the construction of the apartment building commecbnd over the site of the fire.

"I was able to push my little brother and my little sister out, but something hot and heavy fell on me. That really hurtand I cried for my parents but they couldn't help me because the fire was so hot," the ghost said. "Our home filled with smoke and, after a while, I lost consciousness. I was praying that God would keep me safe and he did. I actually sort of fell asleep and, when I died, I did not feel any pain."

"Didn't you have a light to guide you to heaven? My Mama said that when you die, a light from heaven shines to guide you back to God," the girl in pink pajamas asked.

"There was a light and it was very bright, but I did not want to go to it yet. It's always there, waiting for me, but I like it here. I have friends here," the ghost answered. "And you're my new friend, aren't you? Promise, I won't hurt you or scare you or anything."

"Sure we're friends," the girl in pink pajamas said with a smile. "I like you and you're the first friend I've made here. Can I hug you to close the deal?"

Victoria held her arms out for a hug and leaned forward, her heft and weight belying that she was only a spirit. Her movements made the hair fall away from the left side of her face and the girl in the pajamas saw that her ghostly friend's face had been burnt almost down to the bone. She hugged Victoria's cold form anyway and that was teh start of an unusual but long lived friendship.

As the girl grew into a woman, living in the same apartment for nearly two decades, she grew ore and more curious about Victoria's story. Many other friends had come and gone, but her friendship with Victoria remained strong and easygoing because she could tell Victoria anything.

Having chosen to become a journalist, she decided to put her skills to use one day by researching in the newspaper files of the National Library about the fire that had killed Victoria. She found a news article in the metro page of a defunct broadsheet that carried the headline "Little heroin dies in Makati blaze."

The news story said Victoria had indeed managed to get her younger brother and sister to safety, sacrificing her own life in the process. There was a small black and white photo of Victoria, a likeness that showed how the house ghost looked before the fire burned her face.

Now, the journalist still lives in Makati apartment and she and Victoria still chat. The nice thing about having a house ghost is that she finds whatever small items her friend may have misplaced, such as keys or eyeglasses.

Of course, child that she is, Victoria also likes to play pranks when her grown up friend forgets she's there by hiding th same items she often finds for her friend, returning them only after she has had a nice, late night chat with her friend the journalist. Victoria also play pranks on and has late-night chats with her friend's children, who also call her a friend.

Story by: Alma S. Anonas, from True Philippine Ghost Stories 22

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