Allyson P. Lessard is from Puyallup, Washington. She is a Junior at Pacific Lutheran University earning a Bachelor of Arts in English. Currently, she is a reporter for The Mast, PLU’s student-run newspaper. Additionally, she volunteers with the Sunrise Movement, an American youth-led organization fighting to stop climate change.
Ghosts and Other Childhood Memories
My childhood home is haunted. It’s important to be aware of this before entering the house; don’t want anyone getting too spooked. Childhood memories don’t disappear once you leave, rather, they form ghosts from memories meant to be forgotten. They bedevil the rooms, casting their shadows upon the walls. Desperate for any interaction with the living, they spend each dismal day alone, locked in their rooms. The house creaking and shifting may disguise their noises, but if you listen closely you can hear their songs. They moan for recognition, waiting for someone to listen to their stories. Seeking remembrance, ghosts shove themselves into your consciousness. They aren’t friendly; they’ve been alone too long for that.
Entering from the front door is the safest bet, so you can avoid the garage ghouls. They are so restless from being stuck in the dark, they’ll snarl at any chance. If you happen to hear them rattling the garage doors while walking to the front of the house, ignore them. They’re like the sirens that tried to lure sailors. Go directly to the concrete steps before the white paneled front door. From there, you’ll be able to peek into the house; the door has windows flanking its sides. Inside, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the ghosts in one of the front rooms. They’re waiting for you!
Upon entering, maple and vanilla permeate the air from a Bath and Bodyworks candle being burned somewhere deeper inside, a favorite scent for both my mother and the ghosts. Feeling the air chill is not uncommon; it means a ghost is nearby. Don’t be alarmed. While the ghosts are not friendly, they also are physically harmless. Harming the living is not their purpose. In front of you lies a staircase, but our journey begins by moving straight down the hallway to your right. The end of the tunnel is illuminated by the glimmering of hanging lights, which lead you into the kitchen. The smell of maple will be much stronger here, as my mother burns the candle near the kitchen sink. The walls are painted mahogany, bouncing warmth into the house. Straight ahead at the table is the angriest ghost. He never gets up from the kitchen table, rather glares and scoffs at the living. His bushy brows are furrowed to form a large grimace. This ghost serves as a constant reminder of the pain dinner brings. He doesn’t talk; his everlasting presence is enough. Family dinners never went well for my family and me. My dad and I never got along, so dinners typically lasted ten minutes at the most. A common occurrence would be the four of us eating dinner together and the ghost whispering in my ear that my dad was chewing too loud. Exasperated, I would lash out at my dad, escalating the situation, leaving the ghost to chuckle at his work. I would usually end up eating on the floor of my bedroom. No combination of food that my mom prepared could balance out two fiery people who do not work together.
Straight on from the kitchen table is the family room. The ghost here is the most friendly. She has no ill will towards the living because her purpose is to salvage the family. Memories of movies, family game nights, and long talks with my parents shine through her. She is warm, like the sandy-colored room. The fireplace is her safe spot, tending to the white mantel and keeping it clean. I would recommend sitting with her for a while; she speaks for all the positivity I can remember from childhood. She’ll offer to play you in a game of Uno or Sorry, but after a while, it’s best to move forward. You can’t hide in the positives of the past forever.
Heading back towards the stairs, return to the kitchen table and enter through the hallway. There you may begin your ascent up the carpeted stairs, towards my bathroom, the first door on the right. This room is toothpaste blue, a color I demanded as a child for both bathroom and bedroom. The right wall is covered in a mirror. Looking in the mirror you will glimpse a ghost lying in the bathtub behind you, her long, wet hair sticking to the porcelain. She moans the loudest, echoing across the shower walls. Her wails describe painful memories of self-discovery. Puberty, body hair, every coming of age memory a young girl could imagine. She won’t bother you if you avoid looking in the mirror. She needs you to notice your flaws. If you do you can feel her creep into your pores, follicles, anywhere she can make you feel her presence. She easily gets inside of you, gnawing on your insecurities. If you do decide to pop a pimple or two, you must leave the bathroom before you succumb to her presence.
Exiting the bathroom, you’ll see the last three rooms at the end of the hall. They all appear identical, but the room straight down the hallway is the activity room. A bleak yellow covers the walls, matching the room’s unfortunate feeling. A threaded futon covers the left wall, with a bookshelf and TV stand across the way. Ghosts linger around the objects, waiting for a human to entangle themselves in. This room was meant to be a space for me to invite friends to play video games or watch movies. The screams are too loud to stay in this room for more than twenty minutes: ghosts of relationships gone wrong, friend fights, bad hookups. I’ve never gotten a good look at any of the ghosts in this room; I try to block them out. The door normally remains closed, their cries silenced by a slab of wood.
My bedroom is the last room on the tour, to the right of the activity room. The familiar toothpaste color is painted across the walls. One great window opens to the north side, admitting sunlight to contrast the stark blue walls. My room contains the ghost of myself as a child. You’ll notice her hiding under the covers, trying to block out the noises of her parents fighting over her. You might hear her sniffling. There should be a stuffed dog on the dresser across from the bed. His name is Toby. Place him next to my ghost; she’ll appreciate it. Give her a quick hug, and you can be on your way. If you find yourself stuck here, don’t be alarmed. It’s easy to feel trapped in a childhood memory. My ghost will help you leave the room, reminding you it’s not your fault.
Leaving the house is simple; don’t look back. The ghosts will take any last chance they can to make you stay. Exit my room, continue down the stairs, and out the way you came. If you’re lucky, you’ll leave untouched by any of the memories that come with revisiting someone’s childhood. If you find yourself stuck in the house, it’s best to face the memories head-on. At least that’s what I’ve been told. I haven’t been able to find my way out yet.