Which makes me wonder about the mantle. That's new territory for her, and those pictures broke, glass everywhere. I mean, before that the most energy I've seen Myrtle expend was the time she tried to change Mae's diaper. Of all the tricks a ghost could perform -- blood dripping down the walls, a plague of maggots -- Myrtle picked that; the diaper changing.
Don't get me wrong, it's not like it wasn't scary to return to the nursery after only a minute and find a 2-month-old baby naked where she wasn't naked before, quietly cooing in the corner of her crib while in the other corner lay her sturdy overalls with all the complicated buckles and snaps undone. Mae certainly didn't do that herself. You practically need a toolbox to get her in and out of those things, and let's not forget that Mae was a newborn with all the mobility of a breathing sack of birdseed.
So Myrtle must have been at work there, trying to help. That's what I mean, Myrtle was a sweet woman before she was murdered in our backyard 27 years ago. She thought she could walk up to a boy with a gun and ask him to stop shooting and he would stop shooting and she would walk back inside and finish dinner with her female companion and that would be that. But instead, she died on the grass out there. Then Chris and I moved in and had Mae, and Myrtle tried to make herself known, but I was distracted. It wasn't until the candlestick flew off the shelf right in front of me that I finally figured it out. "Aha! We're haunted!" After that Myrtle seemed content to know we knew she was there.
And I thought I saw her once, a faint apparition alongside me in the dark, but it turned out it was just my own reflection in the Plexiglas of a piece of artwork I'd forgotten I'd placed there earlier. And besides, Myrtle is not that ostentatious. She doesn't even like the dark. She is always turning on lights. I personally appreciate the dark sometimes and could sit in it quietly all night on occasion, but in this house that's not possible. Myrtle can only stand darkness for so long before, click!, suddenly a light comes on somewhere. I got tired of getting out of bed to turn them off, so now we keep a dim stained-glass lamp illuminated in the living room 24 hours a day, and Chris and I have learned to sleep with its glow wafting in from the doorway. When you have a ghost in your house, one of the first things you figure out is how to compromise.
But the broken glass ... that's a new trick. Our neighbor Jim says his house is haunted by the ghost of an 8-year-old girl who died there years ago of leukemia. He thinks she made his basement stairs collapse underneath him one day. I remember thinking that was a bad prank for his ghost to pull and feeling fortunate that Myrtle has been comparatively mild in her hauntings. And then all those pictures flew off our mantle, and now I'm worried that another ghost has moved in.
Maybe it's the boy who was killed one block over the other month. Shot over a game of dice. Or maybe it's the crack whore who was gunned down as she ran naked through the street trying to escape her assailant. That happened the week before I bought this place. Or it could be the addict on the corner, who called me a bleachy-haired honky bitch after I accidentally almost hit him with my car. He didn't look like he had much longer to live. What I don't understand is why they would haunt my particular house. If it were me, I would pick a nicer place. But maybe ghosts don't have power over this. Maybe that's their lot in death, to go where they're assigned and linger there like a familiar scent forever.
Last night I thought I saw our new ghost in the purple hue of the permanently illuminated stained-glass lamp in our living room, but it turns out that, absent the pictures, the mirror over the mantle is newly exposed. So it wasn't the new ghost after all, it was just me again.
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