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Childhood Ghost Story: Lying By Omission

September 15, 2020

(image via wikimedia)

According to conventional wisdom, what should you do when you have a ghost in your house?

Leave.

Second question: When you sell the house, should you tell potential homebuyers about the ghost?

Of course not!  You don’t want to hurt your property value.

That’s probably bad advice.  I don’t mind moving when you have a ghost in your house, but I think you need to confess about the ghost.  To me, omitting important details is just as bad as bad as lying because you’re still not speaking truth and you usually have bad intentions when you omit crucial information.

Getting back to the ghost, I admit that my ghost story is different from other ghost stories.  Most ghost stories are about living humans trying to figure out the ghost, or defeat the ghost, or help the ghost find its true path.  I didn’t do any of that.  I just left the ghost.

Yeah, sometimes my stories are anti-climactic.  That’s how life is most of the time.

At any rate, we had lived in our house for almost three years (you can get more details at Childhood Ghost Story- The Prologue ), and it was time to move.  My dad was finished with his job in the rural town (I might go into more details about that job another time), and we already knew who was going to move into our house.  We had rented/leased the house, so we weren’t going to profit from the sale.  I wonder now if the owner had known about the ghost and had never told anyone.

The only other thing I remember was that a kid five years younger than me would take my bedroom.  I think his name was Timmy, but I’m not sure.  Timmy seems like such a generic name for a kid that I think my mind has to be making that up.  I know that the brain fills in gaps with details and that the details can be wrong, so Timmy’s name could have been Fred and I’d never know.

I’ll never know what Timmy’s real name was.  I’m okay with that, not that I have a choice about it.

My dad didn’t like Timmy, and I thought it was funny that Timmy was about to be terrified by a ghost, and my dad would have thought it was funny too, but I couldn’t share the joke with him.

Even if we’d liked Timmy, there was no way I could have warned him about the ghost anyway.  If I’d done that, all the parents would have thought I was just scaring him.  One time I imagined that night the ghost would make its first appearance in Timmy’s bedroom.  I laughed out loud over Timmy’s possible reactions.  I think I was by myself when I laughed about it.  If you’re laughing at something you can’t share, it’s better to be by yourself.  So I stayed silent.

Nowadays, they say silence is compliance.  Back then, silence was a survival skill.  When you’re taught that certain behaviors are survival skills, it’s tough to reprogram.

Anyway, my parents weren’t involved with this lie by omission because I had never told them about the ghost in the first place.  If a future family ever found out that small house was possessed, it wasn’t my parents’ fault; it was mine.

Maybe I was selfish for not telling anybody about the ghost.   I didn’t want any backlash from my parents.  That’s not the worst reason for omitting information, but it’s still selfish, maybe.

I never said goodbye to the ghost.  First of all, I didn’t know which appearance would be the last one for me because he showed up maybe once every couple months.  I kind of wanted to tell the ghost to scare the crap out of Timmy for fun, but I didn’t do it.  I didn’t want the ghost to then scare the crap out of me for having bad intentions.

I still don’t know how ghost stuff works.  Up to that point, the ghost had been benign (unless it was a pervert ghost who liked staring at boys), and it was still in my best interest to keep it that way.

The ghost wasn’t that big of a deal because the move itself was much more important.  I was leaving friends behind.  Back then, I actually had a lot of friends (and had no idea that was about to change).

And my hound dog was far important than the ghost.  We had to leave my hound dog with a neighbor that the dog trusted because the hound would have been miserable in our new town.  The hound dog was used to roaming freely through the rural community and the surrounding forests, and there was no way to keep her locked up in a house with a small suburban yard.  She’d dig her way out or howl all day.

Plus, she got car sick, and it was going to be a two-day drive to our new location.  That might have been the real reason my parents wanted to leave her.  If so, I don’t blame them.  Nobody likes dog vomit in the car.

Leaving that dog was emotionally brutal.  I had been the first person she trusted when she’d been a stray, and she’d been with me during a couple tough times that I barely mentioned in the story.  Like I’ve said, there was other stuff going on that was more important than the ghost.

But the ghost was unusual.  Not everybody can say they had a ghost in their house.  The other stuff that I went through was bad but not that unusual in the 1970s.

I remember saying goodbye to the hound dog and petting her one last time .  She chased our car down the highway as we drove away.  That doesn’t mean she knew we weren’t coming back.  For three years she’d always chased us down the highway, and we’d kind of laughed because we knew we’d be back in a few hours.

It was always cool to see that dog sprint along the highway shoulder.  I think I smiled a little bit through tears as I watched her fade away for the last time as we drove off.  I didn’t laugh, though.

I hope our old neighbors took good care of that hound dog.  And I hope Timmy (if that was his name) wasn’t too scared by the ghost.  Looking back, I think I should have warned him.

From → Dysfunctileaks

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