So.. first, I'm sorry - this is not strictly speaking about a ghost. I looked at the forums and wasn't sure where it would fit better, so I'll leave it here after all. I'm typing up an accout of my actual ghosts, but wanted this posted first beause it's explaining the "setting" that I - and the ghosts - live in.
I live in Europe, where houses grow old. Like, really old. When I hear some people talk about their ancient 150-year-old houses, I smile.
The building I own and live in is first mentioned in tax records in the early 14th century. The ground floor and parts of the first floor date to that time. The rest of the first floor is a couple hundred years younger. The second floor is a later addition, 200 years at most. Instead of a conventional basement, I have vaults. Multiple levels of them underground, two separate sets cut into the hill that our town is built on.
Now, the thing about houses that old is, at some point some of them stop being lifeless shells that don't care about what goes on around and inside them. I don't know what it is exactly, but I suspect that the people living in a house leave behind a kind of impression or remnant of themselves, and that over these merge into some kind of personality. That is, at least, the explanation that feels good to me.
When I was looking for a house to buy, *old* was on my "want" list. I saw the listing for a house, and I kind of fell in love with the photos. Went to look at the house. It was old, alright. It had issues. The current owner at the time had no sense at all for old buildings, and no DIY skills to speak of. He had done a lot of damage to the house, trying to "fix" things. I walked into this house and it felt totally, absolutely right. There was something in that house that welcomed me and that very clearly wanted me to stay.
I knew I wanted that house. And I knew from that day on that the house wanted me.
Unfortunately, the owner realised this as well, and thought he could get some more money out of this. He upped the price. I refused. If I knew one thing at the time, it was that he wasn't going to sell to anyone else. That house wasn't going to be sold to anyone else.
In the course of the next year, the man's life in that house grew increasingly miserable. His phone line broke and no amount of trying to fix it could get rid of the problem; his cable TV stopped working. He kept being woken up by because the house seemed to choose the times he wanted to sleep (he worked night shift) to settle and creak and make all kinds of sounds. A roof window pane in the most inaccessible location cracked (that was overkill, house. I ended up paying to have that pane replaced). The doorbell would go off without anyone there, the hot water would suddenly cease while he was in the shower…
There were potential buyers, but no one felt comfortable enough in that house to think about buying it. Some family, I hear, didn't even go up into the apartment.
About a year after my first offer, he called me and asked what I was still willing to pay. He wanted out, he didn't care how much he got anymore.
I moved in and started on renovations. Some of the damage he had done was easy to fix, others took time. Some rooms ended up being torn out completely and redone from scratch. All of the above issues ceased and never returned. Sometimes I had ideas of what I wanted to do with a room and in the middle of working on it get the urge to do things differently. I'd go and get material and start over.
The house was, and still is, a friendly place. I love it here. I have space for rescue animals, and it's amazing how the calm down as soon as they come in. I have one large bird in particular that had been seriously abused in the past and was "do not try touch without heavy leather gloves if you don't want a broken finger" panicky. I'd been working with him for years with very little progress, but after we moved, it took only a few months for him to turn into a rather sweet, cuddly thing you wouldn't know for the same bird that I brought with me.
A friend who used to have night terrors at least a few times every week slept at my place for four months without a single one.
I've put up victims of domestic abuse who needed a place to stay for a while in my guest apartment (the house is rather large), and most of them commented on how, incredibly, they were suddenly feeling very safe.
One didn't. She found the place most uncomfortable. The shutters wouldn't stay closed, the heater would turn itself off, the water was strangely cold in her bathroom. It later turned out that she had been making up the things that had led to her being a guest at my place to begin with.
I can normally feel what the house thinks of someone who comes in. I've come to trust in its judgment. A lot. There was a time when a person tried to force his way into the house, and he literally could not get past the threshold. Another time, there was a friend who, over the years, helped me with the renovations a lot. He was a skilled craftsman. The house loved him. He and his wife would often come over in the evenings, too, and we'd have a drink, and talk, watch movies… it was all great until the one time he came in and I could feel the house 'contract' – a sure sign it doesn’t like someone inside. It surprised me to no end, and I ignored it at the time. Maybe he was having a bad day and was radiating that or something.
It wasn't a bad day, or even a bad week. There was nothing objective to say why he shouldn't be in the house, or continue to help, but the house definitely no longer wanted him around. There was the time he was working on something in the rafters and he fell out and swore the beam had jerked beneath him. I didn't know how to tell him I no longer wanted his help, but I made sure I wasn't alone with him in the house anymore. His work grew sloppy, probably in part because his things kept breaking. Once he ended up tripping a fuse multiple times in sequence, and he insisted he had been doing nothing other than usual. One morning he didn't show up. That night I called him and told him to not bother to come back. The day had just been that much different without him. Turns out later it was probably a good idea to get him the hell out of my vicinity.
I like old furniture, and I'm a regular at the local antiques' dealer's store. When we started out doing business, I asked him if he had a return policy, in case I took something home and it ended up not being right after all. "I'm not always sure how I'll feel about it once it's actually in place," I said.
"You mean you're not sure how your house is going to feel about it."
"What do you mean?" I asked him.
He smiled knowingly and gestured at the store around him. "I have an old house, too."
Not Just A House
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