When I was little, I had a recurring dream. I was inside a huge, sunlit room that was crowded with furniture. As I threaded my way across the room, long, scaly green arms with clawed hands reached out from under the furniture to grab at me. I eventually outgrew the dreams. And the monster under the bed, and the one in my closet. Not to mention the one in the basement.
I am now a Rational Woman. Despite this, I am willing to admit that not everything in life can be explained rationally. But since childhood, I haven’t encountered any situations that couldn’t be.
Then last spring I stayed at a hotel where I’ve stayed many times before: a funky older hotel with tons of character and charm.
And ghosts, apparently.
In all the times I had stayed there, I’d seen no evidence of ghosts or felt anything “weird.” The possibility of ghosts never even occurred to me. This last spring, however, another guest casually mentioned that the hotel was haunted. I had a good laugh (at the person’s expense, I might add) and carried on. Then that evening, I repeated the story to someone who is familiar with the hotel and for whom I have a lot of respect.
She told me it was true. She told me that she seen the ghosts, too. And she had been with someone else at the time, someone whom I also respect. They’d both seen the ghosts.
I must have gone a little pale because she assured me that the ghosts were absolutely harmless, even when they appeared at the foot of your bed.
I didn’t sleep much that night. Or the whole time I was there.
There I was, a grown woman, intelligent, mature, experienced—freaked out at the thought of ghosts in my room. And I never even saw one! I didn’t need to. I actually wanted to change hotels, but I wasn’t about to admit to anyone why, so I stayed. Even after I got home, I still felt creeped out by the whole situation, waking up in the middle of the night and wondering if there was someone—or something—in my room…
The only reason I admit to this now is because I finally got over the irrational fear. I decided to face it in the only way I, as a writer, know how. I wrote a ghost story.
The novel’s almost finished. It started out as modern gothic, but now, I’m not too sure what it is. It doesn’t matter. Somewhere along the way, after scaring myself silly with some of the scenes, I got over my irrational fear.
I’m going back to the hotel in the fall. I am myself again, a modern woman with a (mostly) logical mind and an appreciation for the rational.
And if I sometimes feel someone watching me when no one’s around…? Well, that can be our little secret…
Originally published at Not Your Usual Suspects on March 23, 2016.