Skeleton in the Closet

Since many of you in the Northern hemisphere are celebrating Halloween this week, I thought I’d break from the norm and offer up a ghost story.

Sadly, I wasn’t born with a sixth sense, so I can’t really say I know what its like to see ghosts.  However, what I lack in psychic abilities I seem to make up for in my freaky dreams.  If they’re anything to go by, I’m rather glad I missed out on that sixth…

Dad and I arrive at a place a long way from nowhere – bare paddocks of dry grass and thistles.  And as Dad proceeds to share his vision, I feel a rising sense of unease.

It’s not bad…it’s got a good outlook.
The ground’ll need a bit of work, but – bit o’ lime an’ blood an’ bone – away you go!
A market garden here, an’ some fruit trees over there.  Maybe a bramble bush or two…
The house is not too bad, either – a bit of patching up, that’s all.  Good as new…

By now we’re standing among the ramshackle remains of an old farmhouse.  And by that I mean, ruins.

There are remnants of an old stone chimney, and nearby, half a house where the roof, in parts, has fallen in.

“Are you sure you want to go to all that work?” I ask.

It had potential, maybe.  Once.  A century or so ago.

We wander through the house as Dad dreams the Great Australian Renovator’s Dream.

There’s a dark dining room, and a servery window to the kitchen – a place for Mum to serve the meals, it seems.

“Where will you live in the meantime?”  I ask.

Absentmindedly, I pull out a long drawer from under the servery window.

“…elp me, help me…” come the pathetic cries of a sinewy body, dressed in a white bonnet and frock, that lies in the trundle shaped drawer.  Boney fingers claw at my face, too weak to lift her frame, “Help me!”

I shriek, jumping back from her reach.  She slumps and rolls her sunken eyes at me, fingers weakly grasping at the air.   “Help m-.”

I slam the drawer shut, unable to breathe.  We have to get out of here.

I rush through a gaping doorway to what once might have been an open, thriving kitchen.

Half of the room adjoining an outhouse is now a weed infested courtyard.

The other half – the corner with the servery window – still has a roof.

Dad stands there.  He talks as if nothing is wrong.

It’s quite alright.  A roof over our heads, that’s all you need…

But in the corner, below the servery window, where a benchtop should have been, is the sinewy body of a woman lying in an exposed drawer, dressed in a bonnet and frock, clawing at the air and crying, “Help me!  Please, help me!”

“Dad, you can’t buy this place,” I say.

Only, in his own trance, he was deaf to the tune that invaded my waking nightmare.

I realised then what happens when we find ourselves trapped in someone else’s dream…

Work your fingers to the bone, whadda ya get?

Boney fingers…
Boney fingers…

-Hoyt Axton, 1974 

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Do you see ghosts?

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Images under public domain by Vincent Van Gogh, courtesy wikipaintings.org, appearing as follows:

Barn with moss covered roof (1881)
Kettle over a fire and a cottage by night (1885)
Head of an old peasant woman with white cap (1884)
Skeleton (1886)