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Mama Bones

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Since the beginning of time we have been told stories of wicked witches, bogeymen and other fantastical monsters - usually to try and frighten us into good behavior or as a means of entertaining ourselves during camping trips or Halloween nights.

Few of us continue to believe in these childhood monsters as we grow older and we are programmed to obey the norms of our society - to some this means abandoning the notion of the supernatural in favor of logic and reason, the so-called "scientific" way of thinking.

For others they abandon tales of wicked witches and monsters for more complex belief systems, the childhood fears replaced by more adult fears such as the soul, one's duty to a divine force or similar - the so-called "religious" way of thinking.

Yet for a minority of us neither logic and reason nor scripture is enough to get rid of our childhood obsession with the dark and mysterious, we still dream of the monsters and witches of old - even if our adult minds constantly remind us that such believes are superstitious at best and mad at worst.

I would describe myself as one of the minority, forever lost in daydreams but knowing that I had to exist in a world very much separate from the ghosts and goblins I was told of when I was young, one of my friends however was much more superstitious than I was and believed the world was haunted.

In order to spare my friend ridicule from an often harsh audience I will refer to him as Steven and share with you the story he often told me about Mama Bones, a figure he claimed existed - I jokingly call him mad every time, perhaps because the story always brings back those childhood fears I try so hard to block out during my everyday life..

Anyway, the story - as Steven used to tell it - always began on a Saturday night at around eleven o'clock on a November evening.

Steven said he would walk down a path not too far from his home that led to an old churchyard that had fallen into disrepair many years back - as instructed by his grandfather, who had passed away not long before Steven first told this tale to me.

Upon reaching the end of the path Steven would slip through a fair-sized gap in the wall surrounding the churchyard and go to a small grave next to a weeping willow tree, as the clock struck eleven Steven claimed a figure would appear next to the grave resembling an old woman sitting cross-legged and covered in dirty rags that concealed her face.

The figure would sit quietly until approached and Steven said upon approaching her he would call her "Mama Bones" as his grandfather instructed and would ask how she fared - if she responded that she was well it was an invitation to speak with her, however if she did not answer Steven would leave the churchyard without speaking another word.

Steven said Mama Bones could answer any question but one had to be mindful not to stay longer than an hour, for when the clock struck midnight the figure would take off her robes - Steven had never dared to stay to experience this but he claimed his grandfather had told him a frightening tale of what happened.

As a young boy Steven's grandfather claimed to have hidden as his friend spoke with Mama Bones, forgetting about the time - as the clock struck midnight Mama Bones removed her rags and Steven's grandfather covered his eyes as his friend apparently dropped dead from fright.

I always chuckled a little at this, though Steven would give me a look that silenced me - although the story sounded silly to me I could tell Steven did not find any humor in it: to him this was real and I am sure his grandfather would have been the same.

So what more can be said about Steven and his story of Mama Bones? Not much I suppose - a rather basic ghost story told by a friend.. that's what I always convince myself...

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