Saturday, January 29, 2011
My Childhood Haunts: The Blue Lights
This story takes place at my family's summer home in Newpoint-Comfort, Virginia on a quiet inlet of the Chesapeake. This Victorian home had some strange things about it, but the area around it was much more haunted. The house faced a cemetery.
I grew up hanging out in cemeteries. My mother being and artist and historian loved to study the headstones. I thought of them as boring parks with awesome shade trees. I wasn't spooked by them or uncomfortable. In fact, I paid little attention to what they represented, like most kids do.
I would often go into the little bedroom in the "turret" of our summer house, an odd shaped curved room. My sister had a beautiful little vanity table with a hair brush set I loved to use. It was all romance with sheer curtains and a poster of Romeo and Juliet on the wall and the smell of fresh rosewater penetrating the humid bedspread.
At night, I would curl up on the little bed while my siblings listened to the radio or read in the library downstairs. My parents didn't put a TV in our summer home because we had a cabin cruiser, an outboard motor boat, a dock and tons of the Chesapeake to recreate on. There was little entertainment at night, except for me. I found my own form of distraction.
I would brush out my hair and sit on the bed cross legged and study the cemetery in the tiny sliver of moonlight that penetrated through the mists.
At some point a blue ball of light would show. It was a light blue and looked like it was the size of a baseball. It would move as if the wind interrupted its path, gliding up, down, sideways, darting quickly as it dropped and then rising again, weaving its way in out of headstones and tall grasses.
Sometimes, another light would join it, but usually it was just the one light. It would come from nowhere, just appearing and then leave with no sign it was going to vanish, although upon occasion I noticed it seemed to get brighter just before it disappeared.
In the daytime, I would push down the wild grass and inspect the sparse headstones in search of the magic. I was certain it was fairies. There was no other explanation in my young mind. Yes, I grew up in a haunted house, but this was not like anything at Aspen Grove. This to me was something from a fairy story. The romantic in me saw it as the souls of the dead searching for their loved ones. I found a headstone with no mate and wondered if this might be the culprit. To be buried alone seemed a horrible tragedy.
As I squinted from the grave up to the window of the house, I lined it up in my mind and walked back. That night, it rained. No blue light. Father said we were going home the next day. I was very disappointed and even drew up a map so the next time we came down, I would recall the spot I needed to look. I held the sketch up to the window and made sure it lined up.
The next day, my parents decided to stay and visit their dear friend, Mr. Mills. It was the perfect opportunity. the night was clear. I avoided the board games my siblings had set up and hiked up the curving stairway, went into the little bedroom, closed the door, turned out the light and sat on the bed, hair brush in hand, waiting patiently.
Minutes became an hour before the blue light came out from behind some tall grass. It flickered and went out. I sighed and waited. Minutes later it came back from another place in the graveyard. It was just to the left of the window as I had gauged it as he danced away from the house and then made a sudden curve and dipped down near the lonely headstone and came back towards the house again only to dissolve. I waited until I began to yawn and grow groggy.
We left the next day, but not before I went to the grave and laid out a magnolia flower from the tree near the house. I wasn't sure of cemetery etiquette, but I wished the soul well and left.
I never could explain those blue lights. In retrospect it seemed some kind of natural phenomena created perhaps by the swampy nature of the area or the enormous amounts of sulfur, as the drinking water smelled so awful of it that we often showered as fast as possible and avoided drinking it at all costs. I may not ever know if that lone grave was the culprit, but the blue light really did spend it's time around that one grave.