I will never forget the first paranormal experience I had. I was in fourth grade at a Catholic private school when Apple's iPod touch first came out. It was extremely popular and I wanted one so bad! That Christmas, I did get one, along with a beautiful white desk. I was sitting on its matching chair in the corner of my room, where the desk was set up, when I decided to make a video using my brand new piece of Apple technology.
As a kid, I was also really into YouTube. My favorite YouTubers included: Michelle Phan, Bethany Mota, and Smosh, but that's beside the point. I had always wanted to be a YouTuber, but the social media platform's rule was that the user had to be at least thirteen. I could have always lied, but the ten-year-old me would have responded to that with an indignant: "God wouldn't want me to do that."
And so I was making a poor-quality video that would be shared with my friends through a school-provided email account. I propped my iPod on the base of a turned-off desk lamp I had and hit record.
"Hey everyone!" I exclaimed with a dramatic hand gesture. I didn't really know who "everyone" was, at the time, but that's how most of the Youtubers I watched carried on with their intros, so why not?
In summary, that horrible video was me over-dramatically reacting to a Fireball. Fireballs were spicy little hard candies which had made an appearance in my stocking that year. Looking back, the candy wasn't even that hot, but I guess I had to be entertaining, just like my favorite online personalities.
I popped the little red jaw-breaker into my mouth and started to flail my arms, make inaudible noises, and gesture to my mouth.
Throughout filming, I remember seeing something out of the corner of my eye and the corner of the iPod's screen, which acted as a view finder, while I recorded.
After doing a classically drawn-out farewell, I turned off the camera and plopped down onto my bed to watch the result.
Excitement quickly turned to gut-wrenching fear when I saw what appeared to be a white t-shirt, fluttering in and out of frame. It was as if someone held it above their head and blew hard on the end of it in order to make it flutter wildly.
I probably wouldn't be as frightened if I could find a logical explanation, but no fan was on, nobody was in my room, and I wasn't even sitting by a damn closet! I can't even say now that it was some kind of glare or trick played by the lighting of the room because the opaque, white fabric was unmissable and was as solid and clear as a person standing two inches from your face.
I continued to watch as a growing dread gnawed at my insides. The fabric not only continued to flutter in and out of frame, each time coming closer to where I was sitting, but it appeared as if, on camera, my overhead light was flickering on and off, this never happened while I was filming.
Then, it was as if something blew because the room became blindingly bright; again, this never physically happened while I was filming. When the camera finally recovered from the sudden exposure of light and began picking up things normally again, the piece of white fabric flew across the room, hit the wall behind me, and crumpled to the floor.
Nothing else happened throughout the duration of the video and as soon as it ended, I looked up to where what looked like a t-shirt should have been laying, there was nothing there.
Freaking out, I ran out of my room and downstairs into the living room where my parents were watching a movie. They noticed my facial expression along with pale skin and asked what happened. I was too petrified to tell them.
The next day at my Aunt's annual "belated Christmas party", my cousins and I were all playing. I fished my new iPod touch out of the pocket of my skirt to show them the apps I had downloaded, which led to me showing them the video that I still had in my camera roll.
They had told me that all of the occurrences were things any human could cause and it was probably just my sister helping me out in order to prank them. I deleted the video that night, feeling like I was going insane. Our house is new with no previous residence, it couldn't have been ghosts, right?
Throughout the next couple of years, I became accustomed to strange dreams, unexplainable sounds, apparitions, and the feeling someone was watching me, writing the happenings off as coincidences or paranoia.
Now I am sixteen and had just recently gone on a trip to New York with my mother and our neighbor. Somehow, a casual conversation over lunch at a diner led into the paranormal and I brought up what had happened to me so many years ago. My mom laughed and shrugged it off, but my neighbor looked at me oddly.
"What?" I asked, snorting and taking a sip on my root beer float.
"Candice told us years ago that she made friends with a man who owned a farm where we lived," our neighbor replied. Candice was their youngest daughter. I furrowed my eyebrows and asked for her to elaborate.
"Our neighborhood is built on the remnants of an orchard," she said. "It wouldn't necessarily be uncommon for a farmhouse to be there too."
I pondered her story as our food arrived. "I was just surprised someone else had a weird experience as well." She shrugged as a burger was sat in front of her.
After we got home from New York, I told my dad about our conversation and asked if he knew anything. He appeared as if I struck a nerve and launched into the story of a man who had owned the orchard our neighborhood was built on. He had actually refurbished a barn to make it livable for him and his family.
"How did he die?" I asked apprehensively.
"He was in a tractor accident," Dad replied, "but he survived."
I looked at him oddly as if to say, "I asked how he died, not how he almost died."
Dad rolled his eyes and continued. "His injuries were so bad that he was bed bound and had to be taken care of by his wife. One day, he didn't want to bother her so he decided to change clothes himself. As he was taking off his shirt, his spleen ruptured."
I internally reeled back in shock, remembering the t-shirt in the video.
"How do you know this shit?" I asked incredulously.
"He was my great uncle", Dad replied with a sigh.