Some places just feel haunted. Dark corners, creaky doors, windows that rattle with every wind, dodgy floorboards and the way everyday household objects seem to disappear and reappear like magic. For a while there, I half convinced myself that my cat was slipping into and out of a parallel universe. How else could he manage a disappearing act in a 500 square foot studio apartment?
But I don’t think my place is haunted — not in the classic sense.
It is, however, awfully easy to find a ghost story in any old house — or apartment. The idea of echoes that linger long after a person has moved on (or simply moved out) inspires the imagination.
I grew up in a relatively old house. It had all sorts of mysterious corners and spooky spots. The basement had a truly creepy crawl space, which the family cat deemed perfect for having her kittens. I was seven at the time and could go into it to see the feline maternity ward between crates of empty, and full, soda bottles. The pantry, now that I think about it, would do as an entryway to another world. No one else seemed to even have a pantry. It was old-fashioned and strange — like a C. S. Lewis door.
My room was perfect. It had a slanted ceiling — always a good start for that bohemian garret look. One window was small and cranked open sideways, overlooking a bed of Irises. The other window was conventionally shaped, but it faced the street, with a curtain of evergreen branches obscuring the view in — and out — and great for creating lively shadow games with every breeze.
The attic was off-the-chart scary; the garden had the look of a once formal layout gone to seed, and the screened-in back porch could easily serve as that neither inside nor outside location so useful when monsters storm a house. I could spin stories inspired by every room and I haven’t been there since I was in college. Maybe that’s because I was spinning ‘em when I was a kid. It was a game.
Try it. Look around a real place that you know well. Focus on one aspect of the room and see if you can twist it just enough so that it tells a story. See where it takes you…