Emily’s Ghost. Or. The Haunting of Emily Dobson

The results of another string of nights where sleep and I part company three or four times a night.  Toss in the odd nightmare and the fact that it’s October – that frightfully fun time of year – and you get my brain conjuring up memories then turning them into snippets like this.  

“Mummy! Where’s my ring?”

“What ring?”

“You know, my ring!”

Mother gives a knowing wink to father.  Little Emily was fond of her jewels and could be seen spending one-fourth of her weekly allowance at the finest gum ball machines in the area. She would occasionally go all out and spend the whole shebang on a complete set of the baubles most often found in the pink section of the toy store.  Once acquired, she’d wear her jewels non-stop. Thank goodness they were plastic otherwise there’d be no telling what madness would ensue trying to get her to take them off during bath time.

“Oh, your ring.  When did you last see it?”

“Last night before I fell asleep.”

“Well, it must have come off in your bed. Did you look there?”

“That’s where I looked first.  I’m not stupid you know. Just because I’m four doesn’t mean I don’t know where things go.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult your intelligence.”

“My what?”

“I didn’t mean to imply you weren’t smart.”

“WHAT?”

“Never mind.  Where else have you looked?”

A pajama clad Emily shuffled into the kitchen looking positively distraught.

“I’ve looked everywhere. It’s gone.  Just like the others. I think someone comes in at night and steals them.”

“Sweetie, there’s no way anyone can get in to our house without us knowing it.”

“Then we have a ghost.”

Mother glared at father upon Emily’s declaration. He was known for not being all that discerning about who might be in ear shot when describing his latest writing project. He’d made quite the living as a horror writer for film and television. Emily had on more than one occasion since she began walking, wandered into his office during a conference call or writing session between him and Daria, his collaborator on most of the television scripts he’d sold.  He’d scoop Emily up, put her on his knee and continue working as if she wasn’t soaking up every word, concept, or idea.  Emily had advanced to her fourth year with a wildly adult vocabulary when it came to all things macabre. But because her father and his friends spoke of such things with a certain amount of glee, especially when the champagne flowed at the signing of another year’s contract, she didn’t associate any of the words to ideas that were particularly frightening.  Mother however found the whole deal terrifying. She forbade father from speaking of his work to her after having spent their first years dating suffering from nightmares at the mere mention of whatever manuscript he was working on for his grad school work at the film school where they met. She was happy when his work began to sell, but far from excited to read or watch the finished projects.

“Emily, I doubt very seriously that we have a ghost. You must have taken it off in your sleep and dropped it somewhere in your bedroom.  Perhaps if you straightened your room more often…”

“Oh mummy. My room isn’t dirty and you know it. I always know where I put my things and nothing else ever comes up missing. EVER.”

“Yes, well…”

“It’s a ghost with a thing for my jewelry. The bastard!”

Father raised the newspaper to avoid making eye contact with mother.

*****

Emily continued to lose her little plastic rings till she’d gotten too big and as far as her mother was concerned, too old to wear such things.  She’d gone jewelry-less until sixteen when her parents presented her with a pearl bracelet. She wore it as faithfully as she had her plastics with the exception of making sure to take them off before a bath, shower, or dip in a pool.  For her twenty-first birthday, they gave her a pearl necklace. That she kept locked in a special jewelry box, only wearing it on special occasions. For her twenty-fifth, they gave her a diamond ring. It was beautiful. A small single stone surrounded by chips that sparkled like none other.  She vowed she would never let anything take that ring from her finger.

So when the entity made the attempt, she fought it off with the fierceness of a Kodiak bear protecting her cubs.

“An extra hard day on set?”

“Huh?”

“The bruises. On your hands.  Did you have a hard day on set?”

“Oh.  Um.  Not quite.”

“You know, I always expected you to go into the biz, but as an actress or a writer.  This stunt-woman business still bothers me. It’s not safe.”

“Dad, it’s perfectly safe. Especially now that they do most of the fire and whatnot with CGI.”

“It’s the car crashes and falls that I’m talking about. And the fight scenes. Gee whiz.”

“Dad, it’s all good. I promise.”

“Then what’s with the bruises?”

“I had this dream I was in a fight and I guess I took it a little too seriously.”

“Oh yeah. What was the dream about?”

“Well, do you remember, when I was a little girl and I used to think there was a ghost stealing my jewelry?”

“Yeah?”

“In the dream, this…well, this ghost I guess, showed up and tried to get my ring.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I was in bed, asleep when I felt someone sit next to me on the bed. I wasn’t all that bothered until it grabbed my hand. At that point, in the dream, I woke up and tried to snatch my hand back. This thing was strong so the next thing you know I’m in a scene from one of my movies, fighting and tussling around like an MMA fighter.  I was pissed off you know. It had gotten all that jewelry from me when I was a kid but I’d be damned if I let it get away with my diamonds.”  She laughed as she raised her right hand, looking at a particularly deep bruise on her finger above where the ring sat as comfortably as it had since the day she’d first slipped it on.  The only time that ring wasn’t in residence on her hand was when she took it in for cleaning or when it was locked in the safe on set.

“Wow.”

“Yeah.”

“Emily?”

“Yes dad?”

“Um, that bruise.  There on your upper arm.”

“What about it?”

“It looks like a hand.”

“Yeah? I must have grabbed myself at some point, eh?”

“I don’t know how you could have done it, unless you reached around your own back and somehow…”

She hadn’t paid that much attention to the shapes or direction of the bruises.  She’d just taken them as they were, believing that it was a dream and that was that. Leave to her dad to point out the fallacy in her thinking, hinting that perhaps there was more to it.

Just a snippet here. It’s not meant to be a story I’m to write. Yet.  At least I don’t think so. I had another rough night with the lack of sleep, a migraine, and not wanting to sleep in myPrincess-Dress-Up-Shoes-Jewelry-EET bed for fear of the nightmares (had another one yesterday morning).  This idea right here is based on what used to happen to me as a kid. I loved my little jewelry sets. Which is surprising given how anti-anything pink or girly I became by the age of seven. Until then though, you would find me sporting my plastic jewels as if I were the Queen of England. You’d also find me hunting for the ring after a couple of days. For whatever reasons, it would be the ring that would come up missing and when I say missing, I mean GONE. My slovenly ways wouldn’t kick in for a few years so yes, my room tended to be clutter free, the bed reasonably made each morning. Those little plastic rings would be nowhere to be found.  I remember thinking that it was either Dracula or Frankenstein (don’t know why those two monsters came to mind) who was taking them from me.  

Anyway, growing up there have been plenty of unexplained bumps in my nights; experiences and sensations I couldn’t explain without having a belief in specters and their like. For most of my life, these occurrences, while slightly odd, weren’t scary until college. That’s when I had the first something come in and sit on my bed. Whatever that was, it didn’t come across as particularly “evil” but it wasn’t comforting either which leads me to believe that unlike those before it, this one wasn’t the energy of a loved one or guardian angel type. There have been subsequent “visits”.  Once, while I was married, whatever it was attempted to fool me into thinking it was my husband, coming home early from his night shift job.  I heard the key in the lock on the front door, the door opening and closing, and the swish-swish sound my husband’s work jumper made when he walked. He worked over night in a cooler at a warehouse and had to wear this snow suit like thing.  I heard him walk into the bedroom, then felt him sit on the bed.   That’s when I knew it wasn’t my husband. I don’t know how I knew, I just did. I had my back to it, it was dark in the room. I didn’t move to roll over or turn on any lights, just asked that it not touch me or do anything to harm my goober who was sleeping in her crib in the next room.  

Oh well. Whatever’s going on with me lately, the above bit of writing is what’s come of it. I may develop it, I may not. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll be looking for sleep aids – it’s quite obvious to me that this particular run of restless nights is starting to take its toll. 

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