The cloying aroma of too much perfume clung to the air as I came through the back door. I enjoyed being the first one to arrive at work in the mornings, but I did not like being bombarded with the sickly sweet fog of the resident ghost’s perfume. It was as if she were standing right there spritzing me in the face with it – maybe she was.
Before taking the job, I had been warned that the building (a two story house that had been converted into an office) was haunted. In my interview, I was told, “The house was built in the 1920’s and, among other things, was once a brothel where murders occurred.” Oh boy. My boss joked that he was more worried about what kind of bad karma the previous tenants (lawyers) had possibly left behind. Ha. Ha. He continued by saying that, “To date, the worst thing anyone has experienced is an odd occasional noise, and cold spots that send chills up your spine when you walk through them.”
While the daily perfuming continued, I began noticing another strange occurrence. After a client meeting I would clean up the conference room and push in all the chairs. A few minutes later I would walk past the conference room door and see that one chair was pulled away from the table and turned to face the east wall. I’d push it back and it would pull away again, over and over. While I never actually witnessed the chair move on its own, it would always be repositioned the next time I passed by. Finally, I started leaving the chair in its eastward-facing position. It seemed happier that way.
Sometimes I’d be upstairs in my office and I would hear the back door open and slam closed, which usually indicated a co-worker had arrived. But no one was there. I’d wait to hear footsteps on the stairs, or for someone to say, “Good morning!” and there was nothing. Often, I’d get up and go look out the window, onto the parking lot below, only to find my car the only one in the lot.
Just your average work-place ghost having a little mischievous fun. No big deal. None of this activity really bothered me. I’d even talk to her sometimes. I assumed it was a female because of the perfume, and because of ‘a feeling’ I had. We co-existed and got along as well as a human and a ghost can when occupying the same space, until the day the microwave oven talked to me.
As usual, I was the only one in the office one morning around eight-thirty. The kitchen is at the top of the stairs. Past that, down a hall, are five offices. Mine is the first one on the left. After stopping in the kitchen for a glass of water, I made my way to my desk and began checking email, looking at the calendar, preparing for the day. I had been there for a few minutes when I heard the microwave begin beeping – like when it’s finished cooking whatever you put in there. Only I hadn’t put anything in the microwave. I hadn’t touched it, and I’m pretty sure I hadn’t even looked in its direction.
I left my desk and slowly made my way down the hallway. When I got to the doorway of the kitchen I stopped, the microwave beeping the whole time. My heart rate was quickened and my palms were sweaty. I stole a quick glance out the window and saw that my car sat alone in the parking lot. When I turned back to the kitchen and looked at the microwave, I saw that words were flashing on the display. I had to step closer to make out the words because I hadn’t brought my reading glasses.
Nothing could have prepared me for the word I saw flashing on the microwave display that morning.
The microwave said ‘child’.
How on earth is that even possible??
My heart rate was suddenly through the roof. My hands flew to my mouth, covering it in disbelief. To silence the incessant beeping and to make it stop flashing the word child, I unplugged the microwave and ran back to my desk.
I called my husband and told him the whole story. First, he instructed me to just breathe and try to calm down. “Do you want to leave?” he asked. “I don’t know!” I replied. “I just want it to stop.”
“Then tell it to go away and leave you alone,” he suggested.
“Do you think it would leave, just like that?” I cried.
“Well, it’s worth a try,” he said. “What do you have to lose?”
“But I’m afraid,” I said.
“What are you afraid of?”
“What has it done to you?” He reasoned.
“It scared the crap out of me! It made the microwave say child! Isn’t that enough?”
“That is weird.” He agreed. “But, you’re in control. This is your world. Just calm down, and tell her it’s time for her to leave, that she has worn out her welcome and you’re not interested in communicating with her.”
And it worked! I pulled up my big girl pants and told her to go away.
It’s been five years of no perfume, no wayward chairs, slamming doors, or talking microwaves. Sometimes I wonder how far she went – there are old houses on either side of us. But I don’t spend as much time thinking about that ghost as I do marveling at how smart my husband is.
Do you have a ghost story you’d like to share?