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an icy embrace

A couple of weeks ago at the jail, there was a new-to-me CO, B--, at the programs desk. I was heading into the room I've been using for my tutoring when he said, "You know there's a ghost up here, right?"

Usually when people tell me things like this--in any circumstance, not just at the jail--I just go along with it amiably until I can get my bearings and figure out how I'm expected to react, but this time, I couldn't help it: I said, "This jail is only ten years old, and you're telling me there's a ghost?" (I could also have said, "I've been volunteering here for more than five years, and I'm only just now hearing about a ghost?")

"They think it's maybe a child, looking for love," he said.

Even at the time, and more so now as I'm writing this down, it struck me that if you didn't think of a ghost as the spirit of someone dead but rather as a coalescing of intense feelings connected with longed-for people, that sure: there could very well be something like that hanging about. Wakanomori suggested that it could be like Lady Rokujo, whose spirit leaves her body while she sleeps and haunts Genji's lovers, only in this case, children deprived of their parents, haunting the locus of their deprivation.

Anyway, I think I said something noncommittal like "Thanks for the heads up" or "I'll keep my eyes open."

Then this past Friday B-- was there again, along with M--, one of the first COs I ever talked to, a woman I like a lot. I mentioned to her that B-- had told me about the ghost, and he said, "Oh, M-- knows all about the ghost; she's had an encounter with it."

M-- nodded emphatically.

"What was it like?" I asked.

"Well, I had just had a drink of water from my bottle," she said, nodding toward her largish clear plastic water bottle, which was on the desk, "and I felt something really cold right at my waist. I thought maybe I'd spilled some of the water on myself, but when I touched the area, it was dry. Then it started tingling. I jumped away from the desk--I just had to walk away from there. It was like a little icy arm around my waist."

"It probably knew you were a mother," said B--. "It was probably looking for comfort."

I thought about how my imagination runs in different directions: If that had happened to me, I would have been as freaked out, but it would have been because I imagined I'd gotten sudden-onset neuropathy, or worse.

Or maybe not. I'm only there for one afternoon a week. The COs are there for 40 hours a week, and the inmates are there 24-7. Ten years is young for a building, but it's a long time to collect misery. Even I've seen a thing or two, in the slivers of time I'm there. Maybe if I was in M--'s shoes, I would have intuited it the way she did.

This entry was originally posted at http://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/847495.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

Comments

asakiyume
Apr. 18th, 2017 07:43 am (UTC)
The one time I might have seen a ghost was very human seeming too: the odd thing was the person/ghost's stillness (described, briefly here).

Did you interact with the ghosts you saw?
mallorys_camera
Apr. 18th, 2017 08:39 am (UTC)
Didn't interact with them, no.

Yes, there was a palpable sense of stillness as if all the birds in the universe had ceased to chirp and all machinery had come unplugged. :-) Although all of the ghosts were moving.

My most dramatic sighting was what I think now must have been an old blind priest or monk in the Ely Cathedral. At the time I saw him, I had absolutely no interest in anything medieval, so I didn't pay as close attention as I should have.

I remarked to my companion, "Huh! Look at that weird old guy!"

And my companion said, "I don't see any old weird guy."

But I could see him very distinctly. Go figure. He tapped his way to the altar along the 14th century paving stones (clearly marked, "Do not touch"!) and disappeared when he got to the altar.

I was very aware of how all the sounds inside the Cathedral seemed to stop. (Cathedrals, you know, are echoey places that amplify small noises.)

But it didn't dawn on me until a few years later that I might have seen a ghost. He was just so unlike what I'd been taught that ghosts were like.
asakiyume
Apr. 18th, 2017 09:47 am (UTC)
What an amazing experience! Maybe he was from the same period as those paving stones.

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