Monday, December 19, 2011

Ghostbusters! (or, The Ghost of Xmas Past)

When I started writing this, I thought I had a clear, sharp memory of the events that morning. As I went along, though, I realized something: By the time my brother was in the basement room, my sister and I no longer shared a bedroom. That was why he moved to the basement, so we would no longer have to share.  However, I clearly remember being in the bottom bunk of a bunk bed set my sister and I shared during the events of that Christmas morning.

I am ignoring this inconsistency and writing the story anyway.  I will assume that the reason for the odd memory versus logic problem is that at some point, I ended up in a parallel universe that is ALMOST the same as the one I grew up in, and I have memories from both realities.  My perfect memory cannot be questioned, and the events that morning are not a combination of more than one Christmas morning.

“Leuxra… Leauxra! Wake up!” my brother’s voice hissed at me as he shook me

“What is it-“ I started to say, but he clapped his hand over my mouth. “SHHHH!” he said, louder than anything I was saying.  He leaned close.  “It’s Christmas!” he whispered.

I felt my eyes widen, and I looked around, shoving his hand off my face. It was still dark.

“What time is it?” I whispered.

“It’s early.”

I thought about laying back down. We were going to get in trouble, and I was tired.

“Come ON, Leauxra,” he said, “It’s time to bust some ghosts!” He stood in a superhero pose, and I could see by the nightlight that he was wearing his Ghostbusters T-shirt. It was white with a red collar and red sleeves that went almost to the elbows. It had the ghost symbol with the red line through it, like the movie.

I smiled.

Older-Brother hardly ever wanted to do anything with me anymore. He was a teenager, and younger sisters are remarkably uncool. I kicked off my blankets and swung my feet over the side.

“Come on!” he whispered, “You’ll miss it.”

“Miss what?”

“Just come on!”

I followed him out of the room, tip-toeing through the hallway past my parent's room.

“Miss what?” I whispered again as we went down the stairs. 

I was concentrating on navigating the stairs quietly, which was difficult.  The stairs were steep, with old carpet on them and we had all fallen down them on multiple occasions so I almost missed what he said. 

“The ghost.”

I took another step before I stopped dead.

“Come on!” he whispered, louder now that we were farther away from the parents’ room, “She walks right up the stairs. Come hide in my room!”

"Who?" I said in disbelief.

"Shh!" he said. I had spoken in a normal voice.

"Who goes up the stairs?" I whispered, starting to panic.

"I told you.  The old lady ghost."

Older-Brother reached the bottom of the stairs and jogged back towards his room.

The basement was partially finished, but Dad had recently finished putting in walls and a ceiling and a carpet in the living room.  I caught the glitter or the tree and wrapping paper out of the corner of my eye as I went towards Older-Brother's room, but I didn't stop to look.  I was sure that a ghost was about jump out and grab me from the unfinished laundry room and what would eventually be a bathroom to my right.

The hallway to his room was still open cement, with a piece of carpeting at the bottom of the stairs that had a little metal edge on it to keep it from curling.  Anyone who walked over it made a little clinking noise.

Older-Brother shut the door as soon as I entered, and then rushed across the floor to his alarm clock.  He picked it up and showed it to me.  "It's almost time."  It was even earlier than I thought, 4:15.

I couldn't speak by now.  I didn't want to see a ghost.

"She comes up by my door," I jumped away when he said this, "and then goes up the stairs.  Sometimes, I can hear her walk all the way down the hall to your room, but she usually goes in Mom and Dad's room, in the closet."

I held my hand over my mouth to keep from wimpering.

"You're lying!" I whispered, "There's no such-"

"Shh!" he said, "I can hear her!"

I held my breath.  I couldn't hear anything.  I was about to say so when I heard the sound of the floorboards above our head creaking.  The steps went from above our heads and away towards the kitchen, and then there were little creaks on the stairs.  A moment later, I heard a little click, as if someone were walking on the carpet at the bottom.

Older-Brother and I stared at each other with wide eyes. The ghost!

"She came in my room one time," he whispered, "She was all pale, and see through, and her hair went up in every direction.  Her eyes were like empty eye sockets, glowing blue..."

I tried to ignore him.  Older-Brother had made up stories for years trying to scare me, and would usually end up scaring himself as well.  To this day I am surprised he is not a horror novelist.

He moved towards the door, and shut off the light.

"What are you doing?" I whispered.  My voice caught in my throat and the end of the sentence came out as a little squeak.

I could see him opening the door in the light of the alarm clock, as he stepped into the basement.

"Wait!" I whispered.

"Come ON!" he replied, "I want to see her!"

I kept close to him, wondering exactly how he was going to fight the ghost. He didn't have one of those power packs like in the movie. It wasn't like you could hit a ghost, or outrun a ghost. What was he thinking?

Just as we reached the bottom of the stairs, the light flicked on.

I dove into the laundry room as my father pounded down the stairs. Older-Brother seemed to simply vanish.  I moved blindly to the back of the room, and eventually crouched underneath the stairs.

"What are you doing down here?" My father said.  I looked around frantically, wondering how he could see me. He was using his Someone's-going-to-get-in-trouble voice.

"I was just looking!" I heard Younger-Sister say. She was in the living room, looking at the Christmas tree.

I covered my mouth to keep from breathing loudly.  There was only a piece of cloth between the rooms.

I heard them make their way up the stairs, my sister whining while Dad walked her back to our room.  Relief washed over me.  He hadn't seen me!  I felt almost giddy with relief.  Something soft brushed my hand, and I realized I was crouched under the stairs with the spiders and ghosts, and I jumped out into the laundry room shaking my hands frantically and looked around.

It was dark and I was alone.

I made my way to the bottom of the stairs, and looked back towards Older-Brother's room.  His pale face was peeking out from his door, and he shut it immediately when he saw me.

It took forever to make my way back to my room.  I stepped slowly, trying to keep anything from creaking, and tried to avoid letting my clothes rub together.

I must have made some noise, though, or maybe he was just waiting.

"What do you think you are doing?" Dad said in a loud voice.

I screamed and fell to the ground, twisting my ankle a little bit.

He flicked on the light.  He looked huge from where I sat on the ground.

"How did you find me?" I squeaked.

"Your bed was empty.  Your sister was wandering around and I saw you were missing," he said.  I was surprised he answered, and filed away his answer for future reference.  Next time, I thought, make it look like I'm still in bed.

"I was just... Older-Brother said there were ghosts!" I stammered.  "We heard it!  We heard it at the stairs!"

Dad was sleep rumpled and did not look amused.  "There is no such thing as ghosts," he said, "The house makes noises as it settles.  I've told you that.  You were looking at the presents," he said.

"NO!" I said, "The carpet made the noise!  We were busting ghosts..."

"Get.  In.  Bed."

I scrambled into my bed, pulling up the covers.

"And stay there until morning, or there won't be a Christmas."

I nodded.  "I'm sorry," I said.

He shook his head and flicked off the light, muttering to himself as he walked away.

I huddled under the blankets, only my face exposed, listening to the creaks in the hallway.  It was probably the ghost.  I pulled the blankets closer, hoping they would protect me, and drifted off into a dreamless sleep.


KK and UK said...

I remember that Xmas too. We had bunk beds because they needed my room for something, or maybe because we just wanted it for a change...there were a couple of times we used them around Xmas in the "new" house.

Leauxra said...

Wait wait... you mean I'm not confusing two realities, and there is another explanation for the incongruity?

I mean, I meant to do that.

Angie said...

Your details are amazing! Thanks for sharing this bit of your childhood. This time of year always makes me miss being a kid again. Everything seemed so magically and amazing!

Leauxra said...

Angie: I totally agree... I miss the INTENSE excitement this time of year use to produce in me. I have been trying to recapture it a little bit as I have been really bah-humbuggy this year.

But honestly, I was an anxious kid with a lot of imagination, an older brother, and access to HBO. A lot of my childhood is filled with being afraid of monsters.

Anonymous said...

Ghosts and Christmas always go hand in hand. Hadn't your father seen A Christmas Carol? Geesh....

Stephanie said...

Oh, this was GOOD. I hung on every word. I was scared of ghosts too as a kid. ANd aliens. And monsters. And dogs. And magical portals (no, really). So yeah...I can imagine how awful that walk back up the stairs was.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, you had ghosts!! I mean, how else would you explain the carpet banging against the floor? Your dad was just too tired to realize the trufe when he heard it. Jeesh!

Oh, and I love how your brother was like, "let's go out and see ghosts" and then left you alone as he ran back into his room. Such a brave big brother!! :) Hope he got years of teasing from you for that one.

Leauxra said...

Thoughtsy: I think my Dad knew that story, but I think he was also up until 2AM wrapping presents for us. I really can't blame him for being a mite IRATE.

Stephanie: THANK YOU THANK YOU for saying you liked it, I always read what I wrote later and think it's utter crap, I need constant affirmation that I don't suck at writing. And yes. I was scared of those things, too. I was also scared of shadows deciding to move around and then climb in my nose and eat my soul. I seriously had too much imagination, I think.

Misty: My brother scared me CONSTANTLY as a child, but in his defense, he had a vivid imagination and was pretty good at scaring himself as well. Besides, I think that that's what big brothers are for.

As a child, it never occurred to me that maybe the noise on the stairs might have been my SISTER following us. I mean, it was totally a ghost.

Sandra said...

I was riveted! I love how parents always resort to the old threat of "there won't be a Christmas!" And kids fall for it.

Leauxra said...

Sandra: I think it's one of those constants in the universe: a child's belief that their parents can actually remove Christmas and take down the tree and return all the presents.

Left Coast Guy said...

Everything is a mystery waiting to be unwrapped when you are a child. And you aren't interested in explaining it away, you just want to experience it! Today the world makes perfect sense, no mysteries, no magic, just logical analysis. Bunk! I'd rather be Harry Potter.

Thanks for a fun story!

Anonymous said...

"I was an anxious kid with a lot of imagination, an older brother, and access to HBO."


I too, understood the painfully long trek back to the room when you're scared. Our backyard butted up against a wooded area, and if I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night I could feel the eyes watching me through the windows as I made my way back to my bed. And my house was freaking small, so it wasn't like I had a long way to go.

Leauxra said...

LeftCoastGuy: I have been working on getting more of my wonder back. Sometimes it's easier if I remember my childhood. Glad you liked my story!

thesacredandtheprofane: Oh, man, that would scare me to death! Especially if you turned the lights on so you would see that in the background of your reflection. Of course, I still think mirrors and reflective surfaces are scary as heck.

MakingSpace said...

First, RIVETING story.

Second, OlderBrother owes you at the very least a Kindle Fire for doing that. Whip!

Leauxra said...

Making Space: Don't worry, I got even with Older Brother, during what I lovingly refer to as "the mullet years" in the early 90's. I mean, I became a teen-aged GIRL a couple years later, and there is no way that older brother could compete with that kind of petty bitchiness.

Love said...

This was such a super short story! Sometimes when I'm writing, I realize that going back to childhood experiences as an adult is better, because it allows us to get the spirit and details of the piece just right! WOOT! :-)

Leauxra said...

Aww, thanks for reading this, Love. It was fun to write!

Love said...