If we assume ghosts are real, what type of ghost would you like to see?
I knew this flat was too good to be true. Central Dublin and nearly half the price of all the other flats I looked at? Of course there was a catch. It was the breakfast bar that did it. I’ve always wanted a kitchen with a breakfast bar and this has the perfect breakfast bar. It looks straight out of the window onto the city centre. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Guinness Storehouse. But the breakfast bar with a view was not worth this. I haven’t had a proper night’s sleep in about a week thanks to these noises. I thought it was just loud neighbours at first. I was baffled at what they could be doing every night at 3am. It was like clockwork. The clock turns from 2.59 to 3.00 and there’s a thud from upstairs. Sometimes some faint footsteps follow, other times there’s some scratching. But all the time it wakes me up and it was getting infuriating. I asked the man who worked in the grocery shop below the flats if he had ever seen the neighbours. They seemed a shy bunch since I had never actually seen them in person.
‘There’s no one in that flat,’ he told me, ‘there hasn’t been for a few years. They’ve had trouble finding someone who will take it considering Annie. I was surprised when you moved in to be honest.’
‘Who’s Annie?’ I asked.
‘Who’s Annie?’ he repeated, his eyebrows furrowed together as he looked at me, ‘are you serious?’
‘Annie is the girl who died in the flat about twelve years ago,’ he told me, ‘have you never heard the story?’
I could tell he was itching to be the one to tell me. From his reaction to me not knowing he must not have had a fresh audience to tell the story to for a while.
‘It was a few months after I opened the shop down here, he started, ‘she lived in the flat above you. She was about your age, give or take a year. Pretty, but not unapproachable. She was always friendly, would always say hi when she left the flat. I didn’t know much about her, never really had a proper conversation with her, never got to know her. But there was something about her that struck me. She seemed sad, like she was never quite fulfilled in her life.’
‘You got all of that from her just saying hi?’ I asked.
He smiled somberly, nodding and continued, ‘I hadn’t seen her for a few days, I thought perhaps she had gone to visit family. But when I came in one morning there was an ambulance outside. The landlord had found her in bed. Dead.’ He looked my straight in the eye when he said the last word, then shook his head again. ‘They said it was called sudden death syndrome. Her heart just stopped beating in her sleep.’ He was silent for a few moments.
‘So what has that got to do with the noises in the flat?’ I asked.
He looked up at me. ‘Well don’t you see, it’s her. Her ghost. She haunts her old home, where she felt safe. She can’t move on to the next world while she still yearns for this one.’
‘Right, okay.’ It was my turn to nod, ‘So, does the landlord know about this ghost?’
‘Of course, everyone does. Like I said, no one wants to go near the flat in case they make her angry.’
I left the shop even more annoyed than before. Basically someone was squatting in that flat and no one was going to do anything about it because everyone thinks it’s a ghost. Fantastic
Three am that night my eyes popped open. A thud had woken me up. I lay still, hoping I was just dreaming and that I was actually still asleep. But no such luck, there was another soft crash and some scratching. This was ridiculous. I had to go up there. This needed to be dealt with. I grabbed the hairspray from my dresser. If whoever was up there was dangerous at least I could spray it in their eyes as I ran away.
I walked up the stairs to the next floor. There was only one door. I knocked loudly. No answer. I knocked again. I heard a scuffle inside.
‘Hello? I live downstairs, can I just talk to you for a second?’
I pushed the door and was surprised when it opened easily. It was dark inside. I wished I’d brought my phone with me, I could have used the light. I heard something scurrying through the room in front of me. I fumbled on the wall beside the door to find a light switch. As I turned it on I felt something brush past my hand. I jumped but as the light illuminated the flat I saw nothing in front of me.
She haunts her old home. The grocer’s words echoed in my head but I pushed them aside. Don’t be ridiculous, ghosts don’t exist.
‘Hello?’ I called, as I stepped into the flat. It was laid out similar to mine, the door opened out into the sitting room with the kitchen behind, and a door into the bedroom on the far right. I heard a noise from behind the bedroom door.
‘Is someone there?’ I took a few steps forward, clutching the can of hairspray. My stomach had tightened. I don’t know why I was so scared. It was probably just someone who had moved into the flat without me or the grocer noticing, That could have happened. I edged closer to the bedroom, and slowly pushed the door open. There as a loud thud.
‘Oh shit.’ A voice from behind the door startled me and I jumped. My first instinct was to spray the hairspray. I got a few seconds of spraying before I had to stop because I was coughing so much. As I regained my breath I saw her, a girl on the floor, looking up at me with concerned eyes.
‘Are you okay? she asked. The cloud of hairspray didn’t seem to be bothering her at all, while I was still rubbing at my stinging eyes.
She stood up from the floor and I got a better look at her. She was tall, with white hair and pale skin, almost iridescent. Her dress was long and dragged along the floor as she walked towards me. It made her look like she was gliding. I stepped back as she got closer. She was about to hold her hand out to me when her foot got stuck in her long dress and she tripped. She landed with a thud on the ground.
‘Oh goddammit, this stupid dress.’
She had landed straight onto her knees, I had felt her pain when she fell. I knelt down beside her to see if she was okay. Her skin was freezing to touch. She looked at me and I noticed that her eyes were white as well. I stood back up.
‘Who are you?’ I asked.
She sighed and stood up herself, holding her dress up over her ankles as she did. ‘I’m Annie.’
I blinked. ‘Annie? As in the dead girl who lived here?’
She shrugged, ‘That’s me.’ She held out her hand as if to shake my hand. ‘Nice to meet you.’
I stepped back, pulling my hands as far away from her as I could. ‘You’re dead,’ I cried, ‘you’re a dead person.’
‘That doesn’t mean you have to be rude. You’re the one who broke into my flat,’ she said, retracting her hand.
‘What is going on right now? How are you dead? How are you here?’
‘I’m haunting the flat,’ she shrugged again.
‘But, why? There’s no one here to haunt.’ I said looking around at the dust covered furniture.
‘You don’t haunt people, you haunt places. Don’t you know anything about being dead?’
‘Funnily enough I don’t,’ I said.
‘The only bad thing is that they make you wear these stupid dresses and bare feet. How anyone can walk in this is beyond me.’ She tugged at her dress again.
‘So, do you fall over like that a lot?’
‘More than I’d like to admit. I’ve knocked so much stuff over trying to catch myself as well. Last night I broke a vase that my Mam had left me when she died. I was on my hands and knees scrabbling around to pick up all the pieces for most of the night. She nearly killed me when I told her this morning.’
‘So, do you do all your haunting at night then? Say around about three am?’ I asked.
‘3.02 to be exact. It’s my time of death.’
‘Right,’ I nodded,’ and I don’t suppose there’s any way that time could be changed to sometime in the morning or mid afternoon? It’s just that, you’re kind of loud.’
She held her hand up to her mouth, ‘Oh my god I’m so sorry. I must be keeping you up all night. How much ruder could I be?’
‘Well,’ I shrugged, ‘it is a bit of a pain.’
‘I’m so sorry. I forgot how thin these walls and ceilings could be. When I was alive I could hear when the guy downstairs was flushing his toilet. I will try and keep it down.’
‘Thank you, I really appreciate it. And I’m sorry for barging up here, spraying hairspray all over the place.’
She shook her head, ‘It’s completely understandable, under the circumstances.’
‘Well I should probably get back to bed.’ I walked back to the front door.
Annie stood at the door as I walked to the stairs. ‘It was nice to meet you,’ she said.
I smiled and headed back to my flat. Halfway down the stairs I heard the all too familiar thud and Annie’s muffled voice. ‘Goddamn fucking dress.’
It was going to be a long time until I got a proper night’s sleep