Growing up in the Catskills, I hear a lot of tales and legends—some famous like the Headless Horseman and Rip Van Winkle’s long nap. Others were local legend, like the tale of s graveyard tree that grew from a switch buried with the woman who died from the beating her husband used it to deliver.

Like most kids, I was thrilled and frightened, attracted and repelled, by ghost stories—especially those told on campouts when we huddled around a flickering fire that caused looming shadows to advance and retreat from the woods beyond our circle of light.

The official word from parents and grandparents was that ghosts didn’t exist.

As a kid, I was certain they did.

I’m still certain there is much that can’t be easily explained—or at least explained to my satisfaction.

On the day of my 6th grade graduation, my mother stopped at a neighbor’s house so I could show off my graduation dress (a nightmare of stiff blue fabric with tiny white dots stretched over several puffy half slips and topped off with an ornate necklace borrowed from my grandmother). The neighbor wasn’t home and my mother said, “We’ll come back another day.”

To that, a voice—ageless, sexless, flat—said, “But she’ll die before you come back. She’ll never see your dress.”

Goose bumps rising, I looked around. There was no one else in the car, no one else on the road. My mother gave no sign she’d heard a thing.

The next morning the neighbor died.

That incident of clairaudience wasn’t the only one I experienced. Once, during an interview, the voice said, “You can stop trying so hard, you’ve got the job.” Another time it told me, “I hope you like this office because you’ll be working here soon.”

After telling my mother about the first incident and being told that the neighbor was elderly and ill and I had a vivid imagination, I didn’t mention the voice again for years. Seeing the future seemed to be okay in a parlor-game kind of way, but claiming to hear a voice tell you about it could make people circle their fingers beside their ears get you fitted for one of those white jackets with the weird sleeves.

Oddly, I wasn’t frightened of the voice or of what it might have to say. It was part of my life, and I felt it was somehow looking out for me. When I reached my forties, it faded away.

I was a little leery of the ghost that inhabited a house I rented in Benton, Arkansas. She wore a long dress and a bonnet and appeared in the kitchen now and then or walked back and forth on the porch deep in the night. My roommate swore she once disposed of a pile of dirt I’d swept into a corner and abandoned.

And I confess to being downright shivery the night I went with a photographer to spot the Gurdon light along the railroad tracks in Southwest Arkansas. I also admit to feeling cold to the core beneath a full moon when four of us walked through the cemetery at Gettysburg on the anniversary of that Civil War battle.

There are places, I believe, that are haunted. There are restless spirits that reach out. There are people who see things most of us can’t, who hear things most of us don’t.

I don’t give that a lot of thought because the unknown is frightening. After that cemetery walk, I don’t court fear. As I approach the time when I’ll cross over to . . . well, wherever, I realize that more and more is beyond my knowledge and control. I want to call the shots—as much as I can—for what I’ll allow myself to experience and be frightened by.

I don’t go to movies or read books about things from beyond the grave, especially evil things. As I often say, if I want to be scared, I’ll look at my checkbook balance.

But I reserve the right to explore and write about psychic powers and the gift of clairvoyance (as I have in A Place of Forgetting). And I reserve the right to consider the possibility that the spirits of the dead may remain with us for a period of time to fulfill a purpose (as I will next year in Through a Yellow Wood, the sequel to Hemlock Lake, a book with ghosts of its own).

What’s your take on what might lurk beyond the edge of knowledge and explanation? What are your feelings about reading or writing about the supernatural, the occult, the paranormal? I hope you’ll share. Someone who leaves a comment will win a copy of A Place of Forgetting.

Growing up in the Catskills, I hear a lot of tales and legends—some famous like the Headless Horseman and Rip Van Winkle’s long nap. Others were local legend, like the tale of s graveyard tree that grew from a switch buried with the woman who died from the beating her husband used it to deliver.

Like most kids, I was thrilled and frightened, attracted and repelled, by ghost stories—especially those told on campouts when we huddled around a flickering fire that caused looming shadows to advance and retreat from the woods beyond our circle of light.

The official word from parents and grandparents was that ghosts didn’t exist.

As a kid, I was certain they did.

I’m still certain there is much that can’t be easily explained—or at least explained to my satisfaction.

Carolyn J. Rose On the day of my 6th grade graduation, my mother stopped at a neighbor’s house so I could show off my graduation dress (a nightmare of stiff blue fabric with tiny white dots stretched over several puffy half slips and topped off with an ornate necklace borrowed from my grandmother). The neighbor wasn’t home and my mother said, “We’ll come back another day.”

To that, a voice—ageless, sexless, flat—said, “But she’ll die before you come back. She’ll never see your dress.”

Goose bumps rising, I looked around. There was no one else in the car, no one else on the road. My mother gave no sign she’d heard a thing.

The next morning the neighbor died.

That incident of clairaudience wasn’t the only one I experienced. Once, during an interview, the voice said, “You can stop trying so hard, you’ve got the job.” Another time it told me, “I hope you like this office because you’ll be working here soon.”

After telling my mother about the first incident and being told that the neighbor was elderly and ill and I had a vivid imagination, I didn’t mention the voice again for years. Seeing the future seemed to be okay in a parlor-game kind of way, but claiming to hear a voice tell you about it could make people circle their fingers beside their ears get you fitted for one of those white jackets with the weird sleeves.

Oddly, I wasn’t frightened of the voice or of what it might have to say. It was part of my life, and I felt it was somehow looking out for me. When I reached my forties, it faded away.

I was a little leery of the ghost that inhabited a house I rented in Benton, Arkansas. She wore a long dress and a bonnet and appeared in the kitchen now and then or walked back and forth on the porch deep in the night. My roommate swore she once disposed of a pile of dirt I’d swept into a corner and abandoned.

And I confess to being downright shivery the night I went with a photographer to spot the Gurdon light along the railroad tracks in Southwest Arkansas. I also admit to feeling cold to the core beneath a full moon when four of us walked through the cemetery at Gettysburg on the anniversary of that Civil War battle.

There are places, I believe, that are haunted. There are restless spirits that reach out. There are people who see things most of us can’t, who hear things most of us don’t.

I don’t give that a lot of thought because the unknown is frightening. After that cemetery walk, I don’t court fear. As I approach the time when I’ll cross over to . . . well, wherever, I realize that more and more is beyond my knowledge and control. I want to call the shots—as much as I can—for what I’ll allow myself to experience and be frightened by.

I don’t go to movies or read books about things from beyond the grave, especially evil things. As I often say, if I want to be scared, I’ll look at my checkbook balance.
A Place For Forgetting by Carolyn J. RoseBut I reserve the right to explore and write about psychic powers and the gift of clairvoyance (as I have in A Place of Forgetting). And I reserve the right to consider the possibility that the spirits of the dead may remain with us for a period of time to fulfill a purpose (as I will next year in Through a Yellow Wood, the sequel to Hemlock Lake, a book with ghosts of its own).

What’s your take on what might lurk beyond the edge of knowledge and explanation? What are your feelings about reading or writing about the supernatural, the occult, the paranormal? I hope you’ll share. Someone who leaves a comment will win a copy of A Place of Forgetting.  www.deadlyduomysteries.com