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?


Images under public domain by Vincent Van Gogh, courtesy, 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)