”Skeletons, found years after their souls left. Kneeling in prayer, clawing their way through the dirt, hopelessly frozen forever.
It was the 1960s and the mines 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 down the Silver Bridge and killed 46 people.”
My father would tell me ghost stories from his childhood in West Virginia. He was a staunch believer in ghosts and thought our house was haunted.
“Daddy tell me just one more!”
“Okay, just one more…”
They say that newborns 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 this may seem, it’s true we have early experiences we can’t remember. No one remembers their own birth, but we know it happened. If our memories don’t begin were our experience does, where’s the timeline begin?
I don’t think my father had given much thought to these 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. I went to check on you. My heart froze when I saw you standing there. I asked what you were doing. You told me you were talking to the ‘blue man’. I asked where the blue man went. You told me he walked back into the wall. I had chills all over my body because I had already seen things myself in the house. That’s when 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 outside of her five senses, unless it was in the Bible.
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 with 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 everyone was. She told me they’d gone to the hospital to have the baby. I can still hear her voice, warm with excitement.
I guess because 95% of the people I was around were white, and 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.