Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Ghost Story

         To set the record straight right at the beginning, I must admit that I read a bunch of Victorian ghost stories on the flight to Europe, and so to say that I was suggestible is probably putting it mildly.
         On the other hand, we were in Père Lachaise, which is one of the least ghostly cemeteries I know. Yes, it is filled with tombs,

A city of the dead. As you might suspect, it's very peaceful.
©Nancy E. Banks

but it has a 19th-century, rational feel. I have been in cemeteries where in the stark, sunny midday, death stalks beside you, where the hairs on the back of your neck rise, and you see ghostly visions. Cemeteries, in short, more like this:

High creepiness factor. (Ireland)
©Jeannie Thomas

 Than like this:

Low creepiness factor. (Père Lachaise)
©Nancy E. Banks
         Père Lachaise is a place where you could take a picnic lunch, except it really would be a bit disrespectful to picnic on someone's tomb. You wouldn't be punished for it, though, by the actual gibbering occupant of the tomb rising from it to chase you off.
          Père Lachaise is a place where the dead stay dead and superstition does not flourish.
          And yet.
          My sister, my niece and I were walking down one of the main avenues. The day was warm for early April, with the trees just starting to leaf out, and it was gloriously sunny. You could almost imagine Gene Kelly dancing down the avenue, it was so cheerful. A ghost would certainly not feel at home in a setting like this, lacking as it did mist, moonlight, and malice.
          My niece and I were walking slightly ahead of my sister, and more than an arm's length away. There was no one else nearby.
          And my sister felt a hand rest on her back. And she thought, "I don't know that hand." Then it was gone.

A ghostly hand on the back, immortalized in marble.
©Nancy E. Banks

No comments:

Post a Comment