This canal runs through my local park. It is fenced off on both sides mainly due to people throwing rubbish into it. To date I have counted about 20 shoes floating in the water. Some of them loll about forlornly, others snag on rocks; some could be mistaken for brightly coloured fish.
I have seen old pots in the canal, street signs, shopping trolleys. The local kids often chuck things in there for sport. But it is not often I see a person standing as if waiting to jump in to the water.
The area where I live is on traditional Aboriginal land. Often there is a strange crackling in the air as if spirits lurk. I know a handful of people who have seen ghosts in their houses. The house I lived in seven years ago was haunted. Badly. I should do a post about it, but it might scare you. It scares me just thinking about it, especially as my husband saw the ghost and she looked at him. He was the world’s greatest skeptic until that moment.
Some people are definitely more susceptible to the paranormal than others. The Irish side of my family all had uncanny powers. My Uncle admitted to me a couple of years ago that he drank to drown out the images in his head – premonitions of the future. There have been stories of ghost sightings and other paranormal experiences for almost a hundred years in my family, but it is something that is rarely talked about.
I see ghosts. I don’t like it. I don’t see them all the time, but when I do it unnerves me. I feel sick and start to shake and I always say in a really gruff voice :’ Get out of here. Go back where you came from.’ My Grandma used to say that all the time to the ghost of Andy O’Halloran who lived in her cow shed. He used to scare the cows so much that sometimes their milk dried up. Cows are very intuitivc creatures. They don’t like anything with negative energy.
I know by now you’re probably thinking that I have lost my marbles; especially with the bit about cows seeing ghosts. All I know is that I see what I see and it has nothing to do with believing or not believing.
I often say :
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Not because I ‘m a pretentious type who likes to quote Shakespeare at any given moment, but because I do believe there are more things in heaven and earth than we can dream of. And that includes ghosts.
To get back to the canal –
Imagine the photo above in the dark. The water is like treacle. Lights sweep the path leading to the road. It is quiet. After midnight. Even the nocturnal fruit bats have settled into the fig trees, snuffling like old men.
Mel and I were walking home from visiting a friend last night. We were crossing the bridge over the canal when we saw a woman standing on the little grassy verge. Her features were hard to catch sight of but she had long dark hair.
Mel initially thought she was going to try and commit suicide by throwing herself into the water. I thought she was drunk or had dropped something in the water. The water is only about a foot deep so it would be possible to retrieve anything that had fallen in.
Mel remained convinced she was trying to harm herself and called out to her. And this is the freaky part. She turned her head towards us then disappeared.
‘Shit,’ I said.
‘Holy shit,’ Mel said.
‘Let’s get out of here,’ I said.
‘I want to know where she went,’ Mel said. It’s the journalist in her – she can’t let things go. She always has to get to the truth of the situation. She ran to the grassy verge. I was like one of those soon-to-be victims in a horror movie who stands there silently opening and closing her mouth. Rooted to the spot.
There was nothing there. The woman was gone.
‘We must have imagined it,’ Mel said.
‘Oh no we didn’t,’ I said. ‘We saw her alright.’
‘How could she just have disappeared like that?’
‘You know how,’ I said with a very dramatic pause.
‘Oh, come on,’ Mel said. ‘You don’t expect me to believe your theory that the park is haunted, do you?’
‘I have seen things,’ I said.
‘Well, I haven’t and I don’t believe in ghosts.’
‘But you saw the woman just then,’ I said. ‘You can’t deny it.’
Thank goodness we spent the rest of the walk home arguing, because it took our minds off the fact that we were both scared. But now Mel is curious. She wants to see if The Woman By The Water (as we have named her) will appear again. She is trying to talk a photographer friend of hers into laying in wait. She wants me to go with them, convinced I am some kind of conduit for ghostly activity. But I don’t want to go. I already know the truth. At night, when the silence settles like a swathe of velvet cloth, the ghosts of the bay come out to play; ancient spirits still tied to their home.