by Ivy Wigmore
The following is a true, if much condensed story. Names and a minor detail or two have been changed to respect the privacy of those involved…
Fiona knew the house was haunted. As she sat on the deck having tea with the widow, she heard unmistakable sounds of sawing and hammering from the workshop in the empty house. She knew who the ghost was and why he might linger. But having recently separated from the father of her two young girls, Fiona needed to find a new home and this one allowed them the comfort of staying in the same area.
From the time they moved in, Harold made his presence known. The atmosphere was heavy and they often felt eyes on them when no one was there. Items would disappear, nowhere to be found despite extensive searches and then suddenly turn up somewhere in plain sight. A door might rattle as if someone shook the handle from the other side or be locked when no one was there to turn the mechanism.
The house was cold, and turning up the thermostat couldn’t dispel the chill. In the living room, the cold became so intense each night that Fiona and the girls couldn’t stay to watch a movie, despite wrapping themselves in comforters. The chill would grow worse as the evening grew later, and felt willful, as if it were trying to force them from the room. They were often woken in the middle of the night by sounds of an argument, followed by a heavy tread down the stairs and the front door slamming.
Fiona and her daughters went on for some time sharing the house with the stubborn spirit. Then one night Fiona was in the bathroom preparing to go out for the evening, feeling lonely and sad, wishing she wasn’t on her own. Just then, she said, she felt arms go around her, hold her as if to provide comfort. It felt, Fiona said, just like a living person, there was warmth and pressure. But it also felt like a line had been crossed—physical contact was going too far.
Fiona brought in a medium to mediate with the spirit. She learned that Harold had been a diabetic who was not looking after himself, was flying into rages and was alienating his family. He had become increasingly despondent, unable to control his moods and hopeless about the future. He left the house around 3:00 one morning after a fight with his wife, drove around a few hours, came home and asphyxiated himself in the car. Suicide was the only way he could see out of his situation. The medium said he’d had a change of heart before he succumbed to the fumes. Harold had tried to get out of the car but the door handle came off in his hand as he breathed his last. The medium tried to convince Harold to cross over but it’s not clear whether he did.
One day ten years or so after she’d moved from the house, Fiona was walking to Timothy’s to meet me for coffee and tell me her story. She was unsure of the time and hoping she wasn’t late. A hand suddenly clasped her elbow, as if to urge her along. Startled, she looked to see who it was but there was no one there. Fiona saw me then, approaching from the opposite direction and we met as planned. Since that day, I’ve had occasional unexplained phenomena in my own house similar to what Fiona described, and I wonder: Has he moved on? Is he here now?