| Grave Dancing
We waited with noiseless breath as the full moon illuminated the forlorn grave. Would she make her appearance? The biting October wind pushed dead leaves before us . She had to show up soon, it was past nine o’clock. We knew we would be in trouble for being out late.
“She isn’t coming tonight!” Gabby whispered fiercely,
“Oh just wait a minute!” Lucy gushed out,
“Maybe the stories are wrong.” I said quietly.
The three of us had been sitting in Bay Street Cemetery since eight o’clock that night. A local legend had brought us to the bone yard; the ghost of eight year old Pearl French. It was said she would appear and dance around the small marble chair in front of her grave marker. This would only occur on the anniversary of her death, October fifteenth. Tonight was the fifteenth and a full moon hung above us. To say the three of us were scared out of our wits and excited would be an understatement. I was fifteen and a paranormal fanatic.
My own brush with the paranormal began when I was six. I lived in a haunted house which my mother absolutely refused to acknowledge. I reveled in the fact we had a ghost, I named him William. I really had no idea if William was a male or female. Whatever he was he loved to move things on my mother. This would infuriate her to the point where she would blame me. It was her way of dealing with what she could not see. We stayed in the little house on Bay Street until I was in middle school. We moved to High Street which was three streets up after the activity began to pick up. The turning point was when it was two in the morning and out of nowhere all of the doors began to violently open and close on their own. My mother hysterically bolted out of bed and came running into my bedroom. I remember her grabbing me out of my bed and running to the front door. We spent the rest of the night in a motel. My mother refused to set foot in the house again.
On High Street we didn’t fare much better. At first everything was fine, the house was cozy and welcoming. I remember being excited about my new bedroom, it was pink all over. I had a big window that faced the railroad tracks and the old mill. I had plenty of room for my dolls and stuffed animals. I had a particular way of arranging them, it took me all Sunday afternoon. About five o’clock my mom called me downstairs for dinner. I remember walking past the family room and seeing a dark cloudy figure standing by the window. I looked again and it had vanished from my sight. I decided not to say anything to my mom for fear that she would make us move again. After we had dinner I went back up to my bedroom. What waited for me gave me chills; my stuffed animals that I had arranged on my bed were all lined up in a row on the floor. I quickly picked up the toys and shoved them in my closet. I knew we had another spirit in the new house.
For about a month I managed to keep this spirit a secret from my mom. It seemed to have an attachment to me, it only made itself known to me. I never felt afraid of it, but I always knew I wasn’t alone in my room. I somehow knew that this spirit was young and was not upset by my presence. The spirit wanted me to know it was around. I knew the spirit had to be a child. I would leave my stuffed animals out every morning for it to play with while I was away at school. I would come home to find the toys always in a row and always facing the window. I never told my mom about the game I was playing with the child spirit.
When I started high school things with the child spirit quieted down. I still left my stuffed animals out during the day but I wasn’t spending as much time at home. I was hanging out with my friends from school and being more involved with after school clubs. When I would come home I would go straight to my room to do homework. The stuffed animals remained untouched. The room itself felt a little lost and alone, much like a younger child who had been left behind. I began to wonder if the spirit had somehow left on its own. I no longer saw a shadowy figure out of the corner of my eye in the family room. I decided not to dwell on the small spirit who hid in my room. It was October and everyone was making plans for Halloween. This was the first Halloween I was going to be able to go out with my friends on my own. My best friend Gabby lived in a great neighborhood that always gave out a lot of candy. Lucy was also going with us, my mom called us the three Musketeers. I was going to spend the night at Gabby’s since Halloween was on a Saturday. I was going as Moritica Addams from the Addams Family, Gabby was going as a goth punk and Lucy was dressing up as a vampire. We were all excited and couldn’t wait.
The second week of October was when Gabby mentioned the rocking chair in the Bay Street Cemetery. The story that she had heard was a little girl named Pearl would dance around the chair in front of her grave. The little girl had died in a tragic fire during the late 1800’s. No one knows how the fire started, only that Pearl had been sitting in her little rocking chair when the fire broke out. Why she didn’t get out of the burning room remained a mystery. One of the explanations was that Pearl’s mother had been working in the old mill near their home and told Pearl to sit in her chair until she came home. The little girl not wanting to disobey her mother stayed in her rocking chair even as the flames roared around her.
We had it all planned out, we were going to spend the night at Gabby’s and sneak over to the cemetery. We knew we had to wait until Gabby’s parents were in bed in order to slip out. Once they were in their bedroom we would swiftly make our way out the front door and head to the grave. The urge to back out danced in our heads, we knew if we were caught it would mean big trouble. For a split second we all looked at each other, then without a sound or a word we made our way out the door. We didn’t look back as we entered the cold October night. We made our way to Bay Street without saying a word to each other. We knew we had to be careful entering the cemetery because the police patrolled at night.
We went around to the very back of the black wrought iron black gate. Gabby knew the back entrance was always opened so police cars could go in and out. We crept in without saying a word and held our breath. Lucy had the only flashlight and she quickly turned it on.
“The grave is this way.” Gabby pointed to the dark windy path.
“Are you sure?” Lucy asked skeptically as she shined the only light source down the path.
“Of course I’m sure! I looked it up on one of those paranormal websites.” Gabby said in an assured tone.
We began to make our way towards the grave. The grave stones stood like silent soldiers keeping watch. I had to admit to myself that I was a little spooked. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, I felt like we were being watched. I looked from side to side amongst the rows of grave stones. No one was hiding amongst them, but if you listened close you could hear whispers coming out of the graves.
“We’re almost there, I can see the chair.” Gabby breathed out.
I glanced over at Lucy, her hands were shaking slightly. I knew Lucy was not a fan of ghosts. I never told her about the ghost in my house because I knew she wouldn’t come over. She had to be out of her mind scared standing in the cemetery at night.
“There it is!” Gabby gushed out excitedly.
“What a small chair.” Lucy sounded disappointed.
“She was a little kid, what did you expect?” Gabby said rolling her eyes. Lucy shined the light on the chair, I went up to it to get a closer look. The tiny chair was in white stone and engraved upon the back was the name Pearl. I felt a twinge of sadness, the image of a little girl rocking back and forth came into my head.
“So now what?” I asked Gabby.
“Now we wait. She should appear and dance around the chair if the story is true.” Gabby made her way over to a cleared spot under a huge gloomy tree. I looked at Lucy who didn’t look happy at the prospect of hanging around a graveyard at night.
“Seriously? We sit here and wait?” Lucy churned out in disbelief.
“Well, what else are we going to do?” Gabby asked annoyed.
“Look, let’s give it an hour and if nothing happens we can leave.” I was always trying to keep the peace between them. My solution seemed to work though as they both nodded in agreement. We all sat down under the big tree and huddled together to keep warm. We listened to the leaves rustle around in the wind. Every time we saw car lights we froze in our places.
“So what is the story with this little girl?” Lucy asked quietly.
“Her name was Pearl and she was five years old. She lived in a house on High Street near the rail road tracks and the old mill. Her mother had given her a rocking chair for her birthday so she could sit in front of the window in her bedroom and watch the trains go by. Actually from what I read it was more so her mother could see Pearl from the mill where she worked at night. She would tell Pearl to sit in her chair and look out the window until she came home.” Gabby said quietly. My heart was in my throat as Gabby continued with the sad story.
“One night, Pearl was in her room as she usually was sitting in her chair. Her mother had decided to leave a fire burning in the family room to keep the house warm. Pearl’s mother went to check on her and to make sure she was sitting in her chair.