The Babysitter’s Ghost (this was originally published on a friend’s blog, but I wrote it)
“Ghosts aren’t real.” You hear that all the time, but what do you do when you witness with your own eyes something that isn’t supposed to be real, something that defies all you know to be true and rational?
I was eight years old when I saw her on my grandma’s neighbor’s staircase. She was in tinted color as if her appearance had been dimmed somehow, like in an old photograph. Her eyes were milky with gray-white irises. She had no pupils. Her skin was a pasty peach. Her hair, probably a vibrant honey blond at one time, had a faded ashy blond appearance. She wore brown high waist pants and a white blouse, the very clothes she wore when she was shot and killed by her abusive ex-boyfriend in the living room of that house in 1964. My late grandpa, her neighbor, had been the one to identify her body to the police the night it happened. He did it so her mom wouldn’t have to.
My grandma is the oldest person in the neighborhood. She moved into her house at the age of ten and when her parents died, they left it to her. She remembers plainly the night the girl who had lived across the street was killed in the house next door where she had been babysitting the two little boys that lived there at the time.
A few days before her murder, the young woman (whose name I will withhold because she still has living family members) had broken up with the ex-boyfriend after suffering weeks of abuse at his hand. He knew that she was babysitting at that house that day and so he came by to beg for her to come back to him. As the ex-boyfriend later admitted, she had told him at the door that she had just put the boys to bed and he was to leave the house immediately. He went back to his car and she closed the door behind him. He came back with the gun he had pulled from his car and tried to break in. With no idea he had a gun, she opened the door after hearing him jimmy the handle and he pushed his way in through the house and shot her with one bullet to the chest.
The remaining details of this tragic night were told to me by my grandma. After they heard the gunfire from next door, my grandpa raced out of the house brandishing his own gun and saw the ex-boyfriend running up the street; apparently in his haste to get away he completely forgot about his car parked along the curb. My grandma called the police who were stationed at the kiosk a few blocks up the road. This is where the police caught him. His panic caused him to stammer out his confession right away and he didn’t resist his arrest.
My grandpa hadn’t bothered to chase after the ex-boyfriend as he knew my grandma had already called the police. His main concern was the babysitter, and he hurried into the house to see if she was all right. It was devastating for him to see her dead on the floor, a girl who had grown up across the street and who was just a few years older than my aunt, but he knew it was better he confirmed her identity than her distraught mother.
With absolutely no knowledge of what had transpired in the home thirty years earlier, I at the age of 8 in 1995 had gone over to the house next door to my grandma’s to play with the little girl my age that lived there at the time. We had our Barbie dolls strewn all over the blue carpet of the living room floor. Back then, the staircase overlooked the living room, though now it has a wall built over it and a door that opens up to it. It was in the middle of this staircase where she stood statue still. Both my friend and I saw her. She didn’t move, she didn’t blink, she just stared.
At the age of 8, my first thought wasn’t ‘that’s a ghost.’ I didn’t really know what they were. My only experience with ghosts at the time was seeing cartoon white sheets on TV, and she looked nothing like Casper.
My friend wasn’t afraid. She acted as though this was an everyday occurrence and simply went back to playing with the dolls. Because she wasn’t frightened, neither was I. I was so ignorant of what I was seeing that I didn’t really know or think to be afraid, or even think to be confused. I was indifferent to the presence before me. The only thing I remember thinking when I saw this young blond woman was ‘that’s not my friend’s mom’ as she was a complete contrast in every aspect of my friend’s mom. Her main difference: her bottom half was opaque and I could see the wall outlet through her shin. At eight, that didn’t strike me as bizarre. Now that I’m older and just revisit this experience in memory, it’s downright unnerving.
The tinted, cloudy form of the babysitter looked in our direction but she wasn’t seeing us. She descended the staircase in a way unlike I’ve ever seen anyone walk down a set of stairs. I wouldn’t even call it floating. It was more like her legs were fused together but her feet somehow were getting her down the stairs. When she disappeared in front of us, it wasn’t a fade out like you see in classic ghost TV shows and movies. It was a pop like she was a balloon. I didn’t blink. I saw her pop-disappear. The best way I can describe it is how a balloon floats along through the air and then it pops and completely vanishes from your sight. Sometimes you don’t see the balloon fall. You just see it and then it’s gone. The only noise that lets you know it popped is the sound. She, on the other hand, ‘popped’ silently. I never saw her again. I came home and told my grandma about a lady being over at my friend’s house and my grandma probably never thought anything of this, as I didn’t exactly mention how the girl looked. I also didn’t tell her how she disappeared, as once again, I didn’t know better to find that strange. Childhood ignorance was bliss.
A few years passed and in 2001, a new family moved in; a mother and daughter. The daughter, now an adult, has since left but her mother still lives there, and she is a wonderful neighbor to my grandma. They became very good friends, and after feeling as though she could trust my grandma not to think she was crazy, the lady began telling my grandma of some bizarre occurrences that took place on a daily basis in her home, mostly the same old you hear with any unexplained appearance; lights turning on and off, doors moving on their own, objects moving on their own. She’d never seen anything but she said that her daughter, who slept in the bedroom that used belong to the two boys who lived there in the 60s, was talking of seeing the ghost of a blond woman roam around the house, most frequently appearing in her bedroom. Even though she too had experienced unexplained phenomena, she told my grandma she was worried her daughter was making up a ghost story for attention and she figured the disturbances were in her imagination from her daughter telling her every day about this ghost she was seeing. When I was hanging out with the daughter, she described the woman I saw on the stairs years earlier.
After hearing the exact same description of the ghost, I finally told my grandma what I’d seen. Hearing my description of the young woman made my grandma’s face drain of color, especially when I described her clothes, and she told me I’d seen the babysitter. She then told me several people in the neighborhood had also seen her and had been seeing her since mere hours after her death. The two boys she babysat swore she was still there. They kept asking their parents why she wouldn’t leave. Families constantly moved in and out of that house until 2001 when the mother and daughter moved in. Once, very late at night when the house was up for sale and should have been empty, two policemen saw her figure moving through the house and called it in as a possible squatter situation. They found no one in the house. When they were walking back out to their car, they saw her again in the same room they’d seen her, the upstairs bedroom where the boys had slept.
Those who have seen her actually move through the house say that it’s like she’s seeing the house as it looked when she was babysitting there in the 60s. It’s been remodeled several times since her death. Walls were built where entryways used to be. A wall was built over the staircase. She is seen reaching for doors that are now walls, or she walks straight through the walls as if they aren’t even there, likely because, in her time, they weren’t. Saddest of all is what the daughter of the woman still living there has said. The babysitter’s quiet footsteps will sound briefly on the stairs. Just a few steps and then silence. The door to the bedroom moments later will move. Sometimes it will open and the ghostly face of the babysitter will peer in through the door and glance in the direction of where the boys used to sleep, as though she is checking on them as she would have done in the 60s.
Occasionally she will be heard and not seen. I personally have never heard her, but the young woman’s garbled voice is said to be heard every so often, speaking a sentence no one can understand. Chantilly sometimes announces her presence when she’s not able to be seen or heard. Her mother who is still living (which is why I have not mentioned names of anyone involved) has been through the house a few times and tried to talk to her. The only response she ever received was one whiff of the Chantilly perfume her daughter always wore.
Everyone who has seen the babysitter’s ghost, including the police from the kiosk, believe that she’s there, and we’ve all agreed that it seems she still thinks she’s babysitting and can’t move on, or maybe she has and what we are experiencing is some sort of time loop replay of her that is strong enough to manipulate the environment somehow. Whatever reason she is still here, I sincerely hope the babysitter finds her way home.
It’s one thing when the ghost is of a stranger who has passed on so long ago that no one who even remembers them is still living to mourn their loss. It’s quite another when it’s someone you know, or in my case, feel like you know because you’re surrounded by people who actually knew that person when they were alive and well, living and breathing and simply babysitting at the house next door.
Even though I’m a writer of fictional stories, every word you’ve read in this testimony is completely true. Seeing her touched me in ways I can’t explain through words even if I tried. This rare privilege I was given to be a witness to the unexplained taught me that there is definitely something else that happens after we die and I can say with full honesty that as soon as I realized what she was, this young woman is the one and only reason why the paranormal is one of my favorite subjects to read and write about. Her appearance and traits that I was able to notice the most, especially those of her eyes and the way she moved, greatly inspired the appearance and traits of my fictional character, Lucian Cole, the main character of a paranormal series I’m soon to be publishing.
The few moments I saw the babysitter’s ghost were enough to last a lifetime, and she is proof that one mustn’t be too quick to simply dismiss that which cannot be scientifically explained. There are many things we now see as normal which at one time were thought to be sci-fi.
Spokane Wash, USA