Ghost Light

The boys won’t sleep. Neither of them. The whining would begin the moment the doorframe came into view. The banshee wails began as the child was held over the prison crib walls.

We attempted a reset. Turned on all the lights. Ran around the big room for a bit, then tucked the back into bed. No go. The moment the lights went out again, the screams intensified – to those desperate pathetic hiccupping sobs.

There was only one plausible explanation. The boogieman has taken up residence in the boys’ room.

How appropriate for Friday the 13.

And his primary haunting purpose is to prevent me from sleeping. (Have you ever had two toddlers in a king bed? Nobody sleeps. Nobody. “STOP KICKING YOUR BROTHER! Head-butting your mommy is not nice! How do someones so little take up So. Much. Space?!”)

Was he dancing in the shadows of the stars shining from the ceiling lights? Is the tiger mural that watches over them coming to life? Oh my god – I have an entirely new view of the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. The tiger comes to life? Poor Calvin must have been TERRIFIED!

Do you believe in ghosts?


Her name was Agnes.

My high school didn’t have a theatre. We had a cafetorium. (During the school day the place served pizza that had to be blotted and drained thoroughly before becoming editable. I ate a lot of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups for lunch.)

Legend has it she was once on the set team, had climbed a rickety scaffolding tower, and misjudged counter-swaying techniques. She fell. Her neck was broken. Her classmates mourned the loss of their peer. But she never left the Bob Hope Student Center.

Agnes haunted the theatre. In memoriam, a shrine was erected to her in the rafters – beyond the gobos and circuit switches.

And prior to every theatrical curtain, Agnes was thanked and remembered in the cast and crew show prayer. (She’d get cranky and hide things if you forgot her. You know the unpredictable temperament of high school girls – see Moaning Myrtle.)

My junior year I was ruling the roost as a stage manager. Tech week hit, and I was sent toward the storage closet to retrieve new gels for a newly inspiring lighting design. The trapdoor to the attic rafters wasn’t latched.

So I climbed the ladder. I got hit by a gust of icy air.

That was weird. There shouldn’t be any air flow in that particular attic. Leaving the door open, I ventured further into the open enclave. It was empty, but for the bits and bobs of old equipment and litter left behind by teenagers creeping across the lighting shaft to visit the shrine.

Lying against the doorframe to the crawlspace was a discarded light bulb (old-school standard household style – I was in high school long before the CFL revolution). I thought nothing of it and headed back toward the opening. I swung my leg out over the opening, preparing to climb back down the ladder.

With one glance back at the room behind me, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.

The light bulb was airborne. It arced halfway across the span of the room before shattering into a million tiny glass pieces, which then rained down upon the plywood flooring like angry confetti.

I. Was. Spooked.

There was no time to descend a ladder rung by rung. I flung myself down into the piles of costumes and props cluttering the closet.

“Agnes. Lightbulb. Boom. Gone.” I gasped to my set guys who were cracking up, pointing back up toward the ongoing supernatural activities. Their eyes went wide and the three of us booked it out of that storage closet like a toddlers who’d just been threatened with naptime.

I think we thanked Agnes before each performance, each act, and just in case – each scene, that season.


I do believe in spooks! I do. I do. I do.

Dear Hobbes, please don’t eat my children. (Psst. Get back to me in a couple days if we’re all still negative on the sleep over/under spread.)


Filed under Family Stories, School

2 Responses to Ghost Light

  1. Stephanie

    We had (my parents probably still do) a ghost that would hide things all the time. Rings would disappear for years to suddenly appear for no reason. Stuff I knew I left on my bed would be gone, but right where I left it when I returned to my room later. My mom once saw it. Out of the corner of her eye she saw my sister go from her room to my parents’ room. A few minutes later my sister came out of her room. My mom had seen the ghost. The ghost also used to lock my sister in the bathroom. I used to wake up from a sound sleep swearing I’d heard someone calling my name. All very odd stuff that could never be explained.

    We also had a ghost in our church, assumed to be an elderly woman who had died, but had been the church organist many years before. I was with the choir director in the church office after practice one night when her kids ran in to say that the organ was playing. We brushed it off and sent them back to play. After a few more repeats of this I went with the kids to check it out. Sure enough, the organ was playing long, low notes that would change periodically. I went back and told the choir director that the organ was playing. She looked at us like we were crazy, but went with us. She walked across the church sanctuary and said she didn’t hear anything. We could still hear it. She got halfway across the sanctuary when the music suddenly stopped. We all booked it out of there and went home.

  2. We didn’t have ghosts. But I have had twins. Yes, two toddlers in bed does not work. Although I did it many a night. Good luck mama. This too shall pass.

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