Encounters with the Uncanny: Postscript
Last week I mentioned that the September Meanjin has an essay by me about ghosts and ghost stories. At the time the piece was print-only, but I’m delighted to say it’s now available online in its entirety.
Obviously I think you should read it right away, but once you have I think you should come back here, because in the week since it was published it’s acquired an extremely unsettling postscript …
The postscript relates to the anecdote at the end of the piece about the house I grew up in. As I say in the piece:
there was a space in front of the window seat in the front room that terrified me. When the room was full of people and sound it rarely bothered me, but as soon as I was alone there I would feel it, the sense that something was there, a presence or—I sometimes thought—a hole, into which all the light and warmth in the room seemed to drain. More times than I can remember I felt it start: the creeping feeling I was not alone, that something malevolent was nearby; more times than I can remember I fled the room, too afraid to turn and see whatever it was that lurked there.
I’m not sure I’d ever discussed this with anybody except my father, who, disturbingly, was similarly uneasy about that room. But last week, when I sent the piece to my brother I got an email back almost immediately.
The email read:
So funny the things we don’t talk about.
The front room by the window was where the old lady I saw once was when I was sleeping in there with my friend A– when I was about 13.
Scared the shit out of me.
Understandably surprised I emailed him back to say I didn’t know the story, to which he responded:
Middle of the night, old thin woman sitting at end of A–’s mattress staring at me, put head under covers and then she was not there when I looked again.
Always freaked me out that room, especially if I was the only one in the house, could feel it just walking past the doorway into it.
So there you are.