Christmas Ghost

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childhood memories/ ghost stories/ sadness

Christmas Eve was my favourite time

All of us children, brothers and sisters

Settled on the floor around a roaring coal fire

Shadows pirouetting across the walls

Our nerves tingling with excitement

As we waited for Grandfather to sit in his faithful chair

An old book held in his arthritic hands

Ready to read a chilling ghost story to his eager young flock

Our annual tales of terror that shivered our hides

Filling our fledgling hearts with festive fear

Ghouls and  phantoms rising from the pages

The rattle of chains, disembodied groans

Things that lurk in ancient cemeteries

Houses of ill repute, figures standing at the foot of the bed

Something moving in the shadows

Distant laughter from unrested souls

Grandfather's Christmas tales were rather special

The highlight of our blessed childhood

Oh, how we adored Grandfather's ghost stories!

Then ... one day he left us

Departing the world in his sleep

No goodbyes

No final embrace

Leaving us numb with shock

The first time we had experienced death

Our adolescent  minds ill prepared

For the burden of grief that was to follow

We sat in silence, heads bowed

Coalesced in absolute sorrow

The world, it seemed, had stopped

But time stops for no living creature

We continued with our lives

And for the first time ...

We dreaded Christmas Eve

No Grandfather

An empty chair

An unopened old book

No ghost stories

A great chasm under our feet

A terrible void

Black, morose and  silent

Our young lives blighted

And as that dreaded Christmas Eve arrived

Our exuberance was dimmed to a faint spark

Barely a ripple in our psyches

We went to our beds, our tradition vanquished

No tales to pound our hearts

A Christmas without Grandfather

Things would never be the same again

That night, sleep disowned me

I tossed and turned like a fish out of water

My thoughts askew, restless and hampered

I rose from my bed and headed downstairs

Uncertain of my actions

The living room was bathed in darkness

Coal fire entering its final breaths

Secreting a weak glow

I looked at Grandfather's faithful chair

Empty, without soul

It was such a heart wrenching sight

Then ... I suddenly saw something

I rubbed my eyes and peered through the darkness

My breath caught in my throat

Heart skipping a beat

A little gasp

For on the chair sat an old book

It was impossible

I knew this for a fact

For I had stored that very book in a box

Along with some of Grandfather's belongings

A box that sat in the attic, in a darkened corner

Yet here the book sat

Before my very eyes

I picked up the book and sat down

The first person to sit in Grandfather's chair since ...

I traced my fingers across the book's age-old cover

And wept in silence

 

Many years have since passed

I'm an old soul now

Weary and worn

Bones fragile and tender

Skin tight and wrinkled

Deep into the twilight of my life

And another Christmas Eve is upon us

The sound of eager children delights me

Eradicating any woes from my ancient mind

Instilling much needed energy into my fatigued soul

I enter the living room and smile heartily

Expectant eyes looking up at me

Precious grandchildren

Settled on the floor around a roaring coal fire

Shadows pirouetting across the walls

I sit in my faithful chair

An old book held in my arthritic hands

The pages are yellow with age

Yet it beats with life

My greatest possession

I wait for hush to descend

And soon it does

However, I decide not to read from the book

For I have another tale to tell

A tale that has lived with me for such a long time

'Right,' I say to my dear grandchildren, 'who wants to hear a ghost story?'

 

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