Tree House Ghost

Most are so subtle that you never know they’re around.  It really depends, I believe, on just how much they know they’re around.  Not unlike the living, ghosts  fall on a continuum of self-awareness, and most are not self-aware enough for their presence to even be noticed.  But others, well, they’re a different story altogether.

I first noticed Henry when I was home alone on a day off.    It was a pleasant enough day in late October.  The air had not yet turned cold, so I was sitting up in my children’s tree house enjoying a warm breeze, listening to the wind chimes that hung from a lower branch.  The tree house, I was told, was built by the original owners of the house in the 1920s.  Because of its height, I felt nervous about it even when my children were big enough to use proper caution.   And because of that, I took pains to build some safe guards into the structure to prevent accidents.   I quite enjoyed climbing up into this treehouse and looking out over my backyard and some of the surrounding yards and enjoying a warm breeze as I was doing on this particular day.

The first odd occurrence centered around the wind chimes.   I would feel the breeze, and then hear the chimes.    I got an odd feeling.  It took me a moment to realize why I felt odd.  The breeze came, but the chimes did not.  Again, the breeze came, and the chimes did not.  I leaned out over the safety rail that I had built, and saw the chimes hanging from the branch, completely still, while the branch swayed in the breeze.

This puzzled me greatly.  I climbed down the ladder to where the old chimes had been hung many years before, and I touched them.  They tingled just as I expected them to.  I waited for a few seconds for another breeze.  When it came, the chimes rang just as they should.  I dismissed it as an anomaly that I would eventually understand as having a very simple explanation.

For the next few days, I payed closer attention to the breezes and the chimes, hoping that something obvious would eventually jump out at me.  But it wouldn’t.  I wouldn’t understand the mystery of the chimes until something else unusual occurred.

Just a few days from Halloween.  I climbed back up to the tree house for a little escape time.  I needed a break.  I leaned back against the tree trunk in the middle of the tree house.  I must have fallen asleep, because one moment it was broad daylight, and the next it was dusk.   I opened my eyes for a moment and then let them close again.  They were so heavy.  A breeze blew through the tree and I heard the chimes…and something else.

The voice was light, like the breeze itself but with words.  The words did not register at first, they came into focus over a few repetitions.  Something about the chimes.  Then I heard it directly in my right ear.

“The chimes make me feel bad.”

My body jolted awake like in a dream where you are falling.  And for a few seconds I had an overpowering feeling of vertigo.  In a moment of intuition I asked “Did you hear the chimes when you fell?”

At that moment the chimes stopped.

That evening, I pulled out the abstract that came with the deed, which I had only skimmed.   I began scanning each page for the word ‘death’.  If a death had occurred in my backyard, it might be recorded.  My eyes rested on the phrase “accidental death”.   Next to it was the phrase “owner (Phillip Grandville) eight-year-old son, Henry Grandville,  fell from tree house in backyard, October 31st, 1928.”

Henry was aware.

I took down the chimes that night.

I still visit the tree house, but I never put the chimes back up.  I know that Henry is still around because I hear his voice sometimes in the breeze.  He also says the same thing.

“Be careful.”

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About davidwburns

I like to write. I have a job. This is a flash bio. View all posts by davidwburns

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