”Skeletons, found decades after their souls left. Kneeling in payer, clawing their way through the dirt they were found in, hopelessly, frozen forever. It was the 1960s and the coal mines had caved in, again. These things happen in towns like War, West Virginia. This time it was the work of the Mothman. Just months prior he brought the Silver Bridge down and killed 46 people. They even made a movie about it…”
My father would tell me ghost stories from his times in West Virginia. He was a staunch believer in ghosts and even thought our house was haunted, I would soon come to find out.
“Daddy tell me just one more!”, I would plead before bed.
“Okay, just one more…”
They say that newborn children possess a knowledge and understanding of the unknown, a memory even of what’s on the other side of life, having just come from there themselves. They say that children forget this divine information as they learn to speak. As unlikely as all of this may seem, it is true that we all have early experiences that we can’t remember. No one remembers their own birth for example, but we all still know it happened. If our memories don’t begin were our experience does, who’s to say where the timeline begins?
I don’t think my father had ever given any thought to these types of ideas, but I can’t help but to consider them when I reflect on the next story he told me…
When you were very young, Arthur, just beginning to talk, I heard you in the middle of the night in your room making some sort of a noise. I went to check on you. My heart froze when I saw you standing in your crib by yourself talking to no one. I asked what you were doing. You told me you were talking to the ‘blue man’. I asked where the blue man went, and you told me he walked back into the wall. I had chills all over my body because I had already seen things myself in this house, and it was then I knew it had to be haunted.
I slept in my parents’ bed that night, scared to death. My mother was the opposite of my father and didn’t believe in anything that couldn’t be perceived with the five senses, unless it was written in the Bible. She told me my Dad was crazy and that I shouldn’t believe everything he says. A valuable lesson I would come to realize.
When I wasn’t being told horrifying ghost stories, I was preparing to become a big brother. I was really excited. I saw a child psychologist to help me cope with feelings of jealousy that were said to be common among new siblings. But I never felt any of that. I only ever wanted to best for him from the moment I saw him.
The morning he was born, March 10, 1989 – I woke up to an empty house. I found Gram standing in the hallway. I asked where was everyone. She told me they’d gone to the hospital to have the baby. I can still hear her warm voice felt with excitement.
I guess because 95% of the people I was around were white, and at 5 I was too young to understand genetics, but for some reason I kept thinking my little brother was going to be white. My dad took me to see him in the hospital and just laughed when I asked about his color.