3 October "Life is a Mystery"

Seeing the Unseen

Magical winter with our two babies, experiencing all their joy.
New Year, seeking a larger home for our growing family,
Hastily making a swift purchase for an uncomplicated move.
“The occupants died,” explains the property agent, in ‘that’ tone,
“Such a sad situation…” Callously perhaps, we avoid the subject.
        We don’t want to know
Asking no questions, we move in and await our third baby.
She’s summer-born; beautiful, adored, keeps her mother close by.
Darling infant, yet a fretful sleeper, waking often in the night
To be lifted from her white crib by our bed, and soothed.
Her focus develops, she is fixating on something unseen
Whatever does she notice near the coving in our room?
        We don’t want to know
Her gaze follows it, feed after feed, night after night.
Where wall and ceiling meet, her tiny face entranced
In the nightlight’s glow, as it’s traveling back and forth.
Pleadingly, I say her name attempting to distract her,
But she remains transfixed, lying motionless in my arms,
Mesmerized by this unrevealed vision she’s watching.
Night noises disturb us constantly:
“But –“ we explain “It’s just an old house.  It creaks.”
          We don’t want to know
Returning from shopping, I place bread on the counter
Only to hear it fall tumbling to the floor after a while.
Bemused, returning to the kitchen, I replace the bread
Far back on the wood surface; it cannot possibly fall.
Later, I hear a noise: the loaf landing back on the floor.
Leaving it there, I feel a shiver, afraid of what’s next.
The middle child often speaks of “The curly-haired girl.”
We try to find out who she means but never succeed;
She gazes out of the window when we ask the girl’s name.
Occasionally, she reaches for a hand only she can see.
“The Curly Haired Girl.” Of course.
        We don’t want to know.
One night, hours after they have fallen asleep,
A row of books on the children’s bookcase is toppling.
Like dominoes they fall, book after book. After book.
I cry in our bed, what is this presence frightening us?
        We don’t want to know.
Fourteen months old the baby stands beside me as I fold laundry.
Suddenly, she’s frozen, staring at the ceiling.  I speak her name sharply;
Nothing. I say it louder.  Staring soundlessly, she doesn’t respond.
Finally, a chilling movement, her arm slowly rises up in front of her,
Stopping when her tiny index finger is in line with her fixed gaze.
Then, silently her finger and eyes, follow a force over her head and
She turns to the window, offering a barely perceptible wave.
The house is valued that afternoon, and up for sale the next day.
        We don’t want to know.
The housing market’s quiet, sales are slow. Our desperation grows;
I throw away an antique French dress I bought for the baby,
Give my late grandmother’s rings to a friend “for safekeeping”.
So desperate to rid our house of that which we cannot see.
Craving peaceful sleep, we spend weekends at a nearby hotel,
“A little holiday” we tell the children, so they won’t be afraid.
One day in the dining room, our oldest child asks
What the light is moving on the wall?
“Where?…. Where?!”  I demand.
“There!” he insists, pointing.
It is a grey day, no sunlight.  The dining room has no windows.
        We don’t want to know
Concealing my alarm, I tell him it’s nothing.  But he knows,
As, do I, although I have no explanation to offer my child.
Driving to school, he’s pensive, staring out of the window,
Then, quietly our small boy makes a resolute declaration:
“It was a head, wasn’t it Mummy?….It was a ghost.”

The day we leave the house for good, we do not look back.
        Still, we don’t want to know

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Judith Staff

Judith Staff is a teacher, trainer and school safeguarding/child protection lead in Northamptonshire, England. She is married to an artist/art lecturer and they have a son of 13, and daughters aged 12 and 10. Judith’s writing has been published on Feminine Collective, and OurFrontcover. She loves reading, running, coffee, gym classes and cold white wine. Her blog can be found at www.judithstaffmusings.co.uk . Judith can be found on Twitter @jcstaff_ .

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