Yes, I’m having trouble putting a lot of what’s happening out of my head, but I can’t let them know that they’re on to me. I figure, just chill out, pretend like nothing’s happening, as long as they can’t get a reaction out of me, maybe they’ll leave me alone.
Maybe they’ll go away. It was like, when I moved in, yes, I was pretty freaked out. It wasn’t anything in particular, it was just a general sense of dread, that same feeling I’d get when I was a little kid, I’d have to go get something in the basement and, regardless of the time of day or who else was in the house, I’d hit the lights and take those first few steps, I could feel it, that tingling on my back, like something was behind me, something grabbing out for me, just an inch or so away.
And so I used to run, sprint up the steps, but that didn’t do anything. Regardless of how quick I made that trip, it always felt so close, right behind me. Whatever was down there, it probably wasn’t anywhere, it had to have been in my head. So as I got older, I forced myself to stop running. No, the feeling of panic, like I was right about to be dragged backward, it never went away, but it never actually came true either. And so I told myself, whatever that feeling is, I’ve just got to go about doing what I’m doing as if it isn’t there.
That’s exactly what it was like the first time I was alone by myself in this new place, always right behind me, like a breath hitting the back of my neck, but not really, almost imperceptibly. Almost immediately things started to happen, my toothbrush wouldn’t be where I’d left it, maybe it was like two inches to the left, or on the other side of the sink.
Just pick it up and brush your teeth, I told myself, don’t let whatever’s in here get the best of you. That was the idea anyway, if there was some sort of a presence or spirit, and jeez, it sounds ridiculous when I write it out, but just don’t acknowledge it. Is it watching me? Why else would it move the toothbrush if not to get a rise out of me.
Like I could pick it up, I wanted to scratch my head curiously, maybe even look around suspiciously. I could call out, “Hello? Is someone in here? Did somebody move my toothbrush?” But that’s just validating whatever’s going on, it’s saying, out loud, hi, my name is Rob, and I’m acknowledging that I’m starting to get really scared of what’s going on here. I hope this is as spooky as things are going to get.
But it’s persistent. I ignored the toothbrush. I started picking it up off the floor, one day it was missing completely, I opened up the toilet seat and there it was, floating in the water. I didn’t bat an eye. I got out a pair of rubber gloves, threw it out, and opened up a new one.
You think I’m going to lose my shit over a disposable toothbrush? I don’t care, I’ll use a new toothbrush every day. And yes, toothpaste all over the mirror, that’s a little bit more aggressive, definitely harder to ignore. But what are my options, really? Do I want to directly engage this thing? No, I just clean it off, yeah, tiptoeing around it is starting to take up more and more of my day.
So it’s like, I don’t have to clean up the toothpaste, no, it’s almost better if I don’t, right? I’m giving it less stuff to throw in my way every day. I can kind of see my reflection, and it’s not gross, I mean, it’s minty, it smells nice. And yeah, if I’m watching TV and the channel changes abruptly while I’m watching it, or if my alarm clock always goes off at three in the morning, yes, I have to deal with that, but you’re crazy if you think you’ll get any more of a reaction than me hitting the channel down button or shutting off the late-night beep, beep, beep.
I’ll keep this up as long as you want, all right, because I’m not afraid of this, whatever it is. It’s nothing. There’s nothing there. And that’s why I’m not afraid, OK, it’s not going to kill me, right? I mean, those bruises on my legs when I wake up, that’s not a huge deal. People get bruises. And that shadow behind the door, go ahead, keep looking this way buddy. I’m not getting up to investigate. I can’t fall asleep, no, but I can pretend to be asleep. I can’t not be afraid, but I can pretend to not be afraid. And eventually it’s got to move on, because isn’t this a little boring? Huh? You’re going to spend every day haunting me when it’s clearly not messing with me at all? Doesn’t that get a little old? Don’t you want to maybe find someone who will at least visibly be bothered by such cliché tricks? Because I’m not going anywhere, all right, I almost feel bad for you, because it’s just so lame, just go do something else, OK, as far as spirits or ghosts go, you’re a total loser.