by Harley May
This entire essay will probably make our Erma Editor Stacey Graham (avid ghost hunter that she is) shudder.
See…I don’t like ghost stories. Before you gasp and unfollow me on every social media outlet available, PLEASE LET ME EXPLAIN. I hate being scared to the point of “TURN ON THE LIGHTS AND PLEASE DEAR GOD, HOLD ME.”
I attribute this stifling fear of the ghostly paranormal (fictionalized or not) on my first sleepover. At the age of eight, my dear friend Carrie Franklin seemed so much more grown up than I was (also eight). She already had her own American Girl doll and she’d watched The Goonies and Grease. She led me in Nancy Drew adventures on the playground where we solved little made up mysteries. She was always Nancy and I was always Bess, which was fine. I guess. I mean, it really wouldn’t have killed her to let me be Nancy every now and then because people should share and take turns and my idea about the stolen umbrella wasn’t “stupid.”
I’m not bitter about any of this. Shut up.
Anyway, when I received the invitation to sleep over, I was thrilled. Everything went swimmingly as far as slumber parties go. We ate popcorn and watched The Sound of Music (which I brought from my house thankyouverymuch). After we’d Doe a Deer’ed to our heart’s content and giggled and been tucked in by her mother, Carrie told me a secret: a ghost lived under her bed. His name was Choon. The way Carrie told things so clear and matter of fact, I absolutely believed her and didn’t care for this information at all.
I started to cry. When Carrie’s mother came to see what all the fuss was about, I told her I wanted to go home. Only this wasn’t your typical small town America. My mother couldn’t come get me from four blocks over because my house was a thirty-minute subway ride away. No one in their right mind would or should travel the subways at this time of night.
Carrie’s mother explained all this to me, but still I cried. She stared at me sitting on the bed and said, “Well, we’re just going to have to get rid of Choon. I’ll go get a garbage bag.”
That stopped my crying right away. When she returned, she got on her hands and knees with the black garbage bag and said, “Choon, come here. Get in this garbage bag.”
My little girl self got as far away from the edge of the bed as possible while Carrie’s mother made a lot of noise as she shoved something into the bag. She stood up to walk out of the room and whatever was in the garbage back moved. It kicked and grumbled as she dragged the bag away.
So you see, that experience in my little girl mind felt just too real. When the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I feel the need to keep my back against a wall, I stop watching/reading whatever it is that makes me feel that way. Ghost stories and I just don’t go together. Got it? Good.
And no, I won’t help you clean out the stuff under your bed.