"Do you believe in ghosts?" There are moments in my life where I have been asked this question. And every time I would answer "I'm not sure". I cannot easily reject it, because I know you cannot deny something that can't be seen by the naked eye alone, but accepting the possibility of an unknown and unseen being hovering near me at any place and time is... Quite unsettling. Though my acceptance of this particular issue is vague, my younger sister on the other hand is a different matter.
Ever since she was young, she would always claim to see 'things' that people don't normally see. My father used to tell me that when they both were driving along the federal highway, they came across a huge car pile-up and an ambulance near it, my father described the scene as horrific, the cars were twisted and bent out of proportion, his first thought was that there was no way anyone could have survived it. As they drove pass, my sister looked and said, "Why is that man standing with his clothes all red and dirty?" My father, eyes still focusing on the road, was astonished by that person's luck and said to my sister that he was probably hurt bad from the accident. When they arrived home, my father told our family of the incident and urged us to watch the evening news that would probably cover it. As the news unfold, the faces of the people involved in the accident were displayed on screen, my sister tugged at my father's shirt and pointed to the face of one of the victims. "Dad! That's the man I saw. What happened to him? " My father's face went pale. The faces shown were people who died in the accident, all of them died on the spot.
I was curious to say the least, I'm sure she wouldn't lie. But as I'm not there when it took place, I couldn't reach a definitive conclusion regarding the matter. As time went on, as most things in life, the memory faded away from me. The thought not resurfacing itself in my head. Until years later.
My family moved into a new house a while ago, it was a two storey bungalow, with a large tree next to it; it looked like any typical house really. As a day of rigorous unpacking ends, we all went to our respective rooms; my sister's room was 'conveniently' located near the tree outside on the second floor, where it can be looked through the room's window.
I'm not sure if it was past midnight or before it, but the silence of our house that night was broken by the screams of my sister. I rushed into my sister's room, my parents arriving earlier. She was sobbing uncontrollably, tightly embracing my mother. I was about to ask, when I realized that this was probably related to her... 'sensitive perception'. I kept my mouth shut and quietly went back to my room. I'll probably get the clear answer tomorrow anyway.
As I've anticipated, my sister told her story the next day during breakfast. She claimed that when she was about to go to sleep, she felt a cold breeze coming from the window, she went to close it and then saw a figure crouching on the tree's branches, that of an old woman, hair as white as the moon itself, with claws of three on each hand, smiling and looking at her with crimson red eyes. I find her description at the time quite over the top, like something out of a stereotypical horror movie or something. I pushed aside my thoughts when she expressed her desire to change rooms. My father, who was quiet throughout the time, nodded, and asked who would volunteer to exchange rooms with my sister. I gazed upon my other siblings, their eyes facing the ground, showing reluctance, maybe fear. I glanced at my sister to see her dejected face, although I find the whole thing quite absurd, seeing the pained expression on my sister made me made up my mind. I volunteered, my sister, beaming with delight, expresses her gratitude over and over, but then she said, "But brother, I know how you are. Please... Don't do something stupid. Please..." I nonchalantly nodded, not giving much thought to her words. Fate probably had disagreements regarding my attitude.
That night, after relocating my stuff to my new room, I went to my desk to prepare the report for my upcoming presentation, I sat there for what maybe an hour when I felt a cold breeze from behind, I glanced behind to see the window had opened slightly. At first I paid no heed to it, with the thought that I probably had not properly closed it. But then I felt the urge to go have a look through the window, to confirm for myself of what my sister saw. I took slow, steady steps towards the window, the sounds of crickets outside matches my beating heart, and with feelings of uncertainty, I looked outside towards the tree. There was nothing there.
Like an anticlimactic moment in a horror movie, I felt somewhat... disappointed, but somewhat relieved. It is then that I felt quite stupid regarding the whole matter. I chuckled slightly, my thoughts that the possibility of someone or something to be dangling on a tree outside my room to be absurd. And with a confident tone I said "Hey, if you're really out there why don't you show up in my face?"
As those words left my lips, the sound of the crickets outside and the breeze that blew just now suddenly died, leaving behind an eerie silence and nothingness. I stood there frozen in place; I didn't know what to make of the situation. My imagination was getting the best of me as I could almost swore that the branches were swaying on their own without any aid from the wind, as if the tree's itself was coming to life. Ridiculous as it sounds, I even started to hear things, whispers to be exact, of what topic I'm not sure. Given the nature of the circumstance, I wouldn't be surprised if it was an issue best discussed only in Hell. And to add it all up, images of a white-haired woman lunging at me kept popping inside my head. The whispers and images began to intensify to my horror, trying to push me over the edge of my own sanity. Suddenly, a knock came upon my door, purging my senses from those abominations.
"Brother, are you awake?" my sister said on the other side of the door.
The whispering, the moving branches, those horrid images in my mind, all had stopped. I bent on my knees, trying to catch my breath; I felt the wind had been struck out of me. I wiped away the sweat on my face, seeing the small puddle of perspiration soaking on the wooden floor under me. A second knock came upon my door.
"Brother, are you listening? Are you alright in there?" I could feel the urgency in her voice.
"Yeah I'm alright, my mind just wandered off a bit, anything you need sis?" I spoke out, trying my best to maintain my composure.
"Just checking up on you," she spoke softly, out of relief perhaps. After a few moments in silence, she said again, "I'm worried about you brother."
"Nothing to worry about sis," I almost stammered. "You should go to bed, it's getting late and I'm thinking of going to sleep now."
"...Okay," she seemed hesitant in her reply, but then I heard her footsteps moving away from my door.
As her footsteps faded away, I gathered my thoughts, trying to make sense of the whole matter. Was I imagining things? Did I become so paranoid; I let my imagination get the best me? My eyes darted to the clock hanging on my wall: 2.00 a.m.
I've been standing by the window for hours. Slowly, my gaze shifted to the window in front of me, and with all the resolve that I still have I picked myself up and looked through the window. There was nothing there.
I must be tired, I thought to myself. I closed the window, went to bed and hoped for a good night's rest.
I woke up the next day, feeling somewhat groggy. As the cobwebs cleared, I sat on my bed and tried to make sense of the event that occurred last night. Reaching no conclusion, I decided to consult my sister later. I got up from bed and went to the bathroom to take a shower. As I drenched myself under the shower, I suddenly felt a stinging sensation on my back. The pain was so terrible that I almost fell to the floor. I got out of the shower and went in front of the mirror with my back facing it, trying to see if there were any cuts. To my horror, the reflection shown were six long scratch marks on my back, each three were on the left side and the other on the right side of my back.
I never told my family, especially my sister. I don't want to upset them. I tried telling myself to believe that I caused the scratches on my back when I was asleep. Some days I even believe in it. To my relief, for the few months that my family stayed there before we moved away for unrelated and trivial reasons, that was last time something like that occurred, as sudden as it happened, there were no longer similar occurrences happening, leaving behind a deeply imprinted memory in me. As I end this story, I try to reflect on what had happened, trying to make sense of all of this. Though regarding this matter, nothing is certain I suppose.
(Author's Notes: I envy the people here who can accept the existence of the supernatural. I also envy the people who can flat out deny it. Maybe there are things in life that is best left not understood, but it can't be denied that the uncertainty, the conflicts between 'believing' and 'not believing', that occurs within me is quite... tiresome.)