The greatest ghost story I ever heard began like this:
“Now, boys, I’m going to need you to deactivate your mouths and shut off your cell phones.” Alex, four years older than I was at the time followed these words by passing around an empty Tupperware for us to put our phones into.
“A few miles from here and many years ago, a cabin sat on the lake. And when I say “on the lake”, don’t think I mean a safe distance away. No- the basement was literally in the lake, situated on the smooth floor where the fish instinctively knew not to go. But humans cannot feel monsters the way animals can.”
The fireplace crackled, the woods whispered with a hushed fervor as the animals of night and day swapped shifts, and our faces were serious.
“Inside the cabin,” Alex continued, “was a loveless marriage and a cradle that was forever empty with sheets that were forever wrinkled. For once upon a time, the couple had supposedly been parents to a child.”
We exchanged glances. All boys know that a dead kid makes any story better.
“The attic of the house held two objects: a clarinet with a crack down the center and a bottle of champagne with no label. And the attic of this terrible place was the reason everything with breath in his lungs for miles and miles around knew never to approach the property or even the lake. No one knew when or how they’d came and taken ownership of the lake; it seemed one day the lake was empty and happy. The next, it had a cabin in the center and there was no more happiness. This, boys, was because of the girl.”
We exchanged looks again. Some faces were still interested and others were bored; I was not bored with Alex’s story quite yet. He continued it.
“The legend my grandfather told me says the girl had eyes the color of iced dreams. The rest of her face, however, was made of glass. Yes, she forced everyone who saw her to gaze upon their worst nightmares: themselves.” He spat these words with a resentment that reminded of a rabid wolf. “Did I mention? You only see her face if you seek her out; she despises being sought out. So she punishes you by giving you what you wanted: a look at her face… a mirror.”
He had some of us there; we were fascinated. We sat around the burning logs, eating anything we could get our hands on like every week, but this camping trip was different. Alex’s ghost story made us stop eating and rest our hands for a moment. We wanted the rest.
“Everyone had a story about this girl, but few were misfortunate enough to be able to tell their story. The select few she showed herself to eventually painted the complete picture. She wears stilettos but is dressed only in a rag. She carries a baseball bat, and she’s been known to knock down everything in her path with a single swing. It’s been agreed upon by now that the girl will come to your bedside as you sleep and cover your mouth. Her fingers are slender as a spider’s legs, but her claws are sharper than a carving knife. For some reason, she has the permanent smell of chocolate. It’s her calling card- the smell of chocolate and death seeping through your floors.”
There were little shivers roaming the sides of the fire by then. But her story was only just beginning, according to Alex.
“Legend has it,” he declared in a lower voice, “that she had a love affair of epic wonder with the owner of a bookstore, thirty years older than she was. He had a scar on his arm that some say was made by her hand and some say was what she modeled her hand after. Either way, the scar was shaped like a monster of some sorts and she was obsessed with it. But then one day, she learned that her lover was not only the owner of a small bookstore. He also operated a much more interesting venture beyond the shelves she loved so dearly; he sold people to the very darkest monsters on the planet. Men. Now, this is where a girl with chocolate and stilettos turned it a doll to be tossed about.”
I remember being confused and I remember hearing a whisper that not everyone wanted to hear the rest of the story. It was too late.
“And now, to make sure everyone else feels her pain, she puts the remains of her new friends inside the disco ball that hangs above as, moving as she moves. The pieces of your body will light her evening and your blood will paint her manicure, but beyond that, she will never leave another trace of you.”
He concluded the first part of the story with these words: “You will be gone, so she is never forgotten- from the stilettos to the crown on her mirror.”
Thank you so much for reading this ghost story; I hope it was a bit different for you. Between the poetry and the long essays, it’s been awhile since I published something like this. (To see what I mean, click here.)