At thirteen i started to push the boundaries as most angst ridden teenagers do. Mum and dad had split by this point and he had moved back down south leaving me Mum and Lil at home to try and find our new normal.
Boundary number 1: Mum. We are so much alike in many ways that it was impossible not to clash, both being typical hot headed scorpios backing down was never an option and if she wanted me to be home at a certain time, i sure as hell was going to stay out later. School….pffft i was the only school i needed. Or so i thought with that typical scornful attitude teenagers are prone too, my attendance was shocking and i paid the price for it during my GCSE’s. Friends… Well…
Boundary number 2: Friends. See you knew where this was going, my best friend Ab’s and i got involved in a rather unsavoury crowd. A lot of older teenage guys (not the straight laced sort) and their group seemed an alluring option. The village had a terrible drug problem with the real nasty stuff back then, Heroin (or brown) was just a word and it was not unusual to see these guys just smoke it in front of us. I think about it now and i see how wrong and ridiculously inappropriate that is, but then we thought they were the cool crowd. People didn’t survive long in that village, i think you can see why. Safe to say that caused an awful amount of friction at home especially when my mother got frequent calls to say me and Ab’s were paralytic and could she come and fetch us before someone got hurt.
Boundary number 3: The Ouija board. Knowing that things were becoming off the scale creepy i did what any rational teenager did in my quest for answers and cheap thrills. I invited my friends over for Ouija board sessions.
Yes i know before you shout at your screen “WHAT ARE YOU STUPID?…. HAVE YOU NEVER SEEN A HORROR MOVIE?!”
I believe we were all naively under the impression that it was a bit of harmless fun. Mum would go to work and i would send Lil off to bed, then a few of us would make up a crude version of a Spirit board on the coffee table and have a go at communicating with something.
At times nothing would happen, but at others the glass would move and spell out words that didn’t really relate to anything. If we were lucky we would get a few words or names that for somebody in the group would make sense. These small instances of triumph spurred us on but soon the words became more threatening and the house started to feel more ominous, one name that we did get on a regular basis was SIMONG. I have a very long history and relationship with SIMONG that is still ongoing to this day and as we delve into each post you will come to learn more about him too (Spoiler alert the encounter below was not SIMONG.).
The secret gatherings only came to a stop when my mum came home early from work one night and completely lost her s**t at finding four of us huddled in a circle in the candle light with our fingers on the glass. I mean she literally screamed at them to get out and i still have etched upon my brain the petrified looks on my friends faces as they bolted out the front door. I so wish that someone had told me back then not to f**k with the spirits.
Staring at the ceiling in my box room when the lights were off and the world outside was dark became my living nightmare. The air would become incredibly dense and heavy. It started out like the rustling of material moving next to my bed like someone was pacing around. Creaks on the stairs turned into heavy footsteps that would thud up and down for a good portion of the night. My stuff started to move in my room. Jewellery would disappear my curtains would billow out at night as though they had been disturbed by a strong breeze even though my window was shut. My books on the shelves above my bed would be in a pile on the floor the next morning when i woke, like someone had put their hand on one end and swept them clean off the other. I could never work out how it was happening without waking me up and i was more unnerved by the fact that these were just a few feet above my head.
Then the breathing started. Just typing this out now gives me the chills and i have wrapped a heavy duty blanket around me as some form of comfort, safety against the open space and room behind me. Old habits die hard. My bed almost fit neatly in my dinky room and if it hadn’t been for the empty gap between the foot end of my bed and the wall it would have been a snug fit.
I do not remember the details of the very first night it happened but i remember that it became a common occurrence and i remember vividly the routine that me and my Mum grew accustomed to when it would start. In the darkness the silence would be broken by a raspy laboured breathing. It would start quite faint and within a couple of minutes it would fill the room even my heartbeat thumping in my ears could not dull the wheezy intakes of breath and the rattled heavy exhales. They came from that black vacant space near my feet. I would shout for my mum through broken sobs and if she couldn’t hear me because she was fast asleep i would scream until she came.
Nervously opening my door and allowing the hall light to flood in was little relief in them few seconds because the breathing continued. Mothers know pure fear in their children’s voice and my god did she hear mine because she would never step foot over the threshold to my room. Just knowing that something so terrifying was going down that all i could do was freeze up and cry like a baby was enough to keep her rooted at the doorway. Mum must have heard it, there is no doubt in my mind although she has never admitted it but i knew that she was scared too i could hear it in her voice.
“Mum please come in here, come and get me. It’s breathing” I would whisper to her, i felt like a lead weight. Moving seemed impossible even though she was literally a few feet away from me.
“Amy get up and come to me.” I would tell her that i couldn’t i was too scared to move in case it grabbed me, That awful sound still filling the air between me and her felt like a physical wall, but calmly she would tell me again.
“Amy i’m not coming in there. You need to come here now.” I would muster up the courage in a burst of motion throw off my covers and a leap clear from my bed to the door and straight into my mothers arms. Slamming the door shut behind us we would run into her room and i would dive onto her bed and bury myself under the quilt. Thinking that my sister would sleep through all this in the next room i would later find out that she was dealing with her own experiences. The built in double wardrobe was harbouring some messed up activity that also kept her bound in her bed, she would lay there and watch the heavy wooden doors slowly open and she would hear disturbing noises like a small child’s voice coming from within. I feel terrible now that whilst mum was helping me she was left to deal with that all on her own, she was just too scared to call out.
The breathing spirit after a few months decided to notch it up a gear or two…. or thirty whichever way you look at it. I was awoken one night to a weight compressing the bed near my feet, peeking over the top of the quilt i saw nothing. Clearly not satisfied with my response it grew bored and after a few minutes the weight lifted and disappeared. The next time it happened about a week later i peeked over the quilt and there was a faint pale hazy outline of a balding elderly man sat there staring at the wall ahead of him. I wanted to draw as little attention to myself as possible so i slowed my breaths down and tried to lay still. I closed my eyes and waited for him to be gone. A couple of minutes later job done off he went and i slightly relaxed my stiffened muscles a bit and tried to get off to sleep.
The next time it was different. The pressure woke me up, just not by my feet. The outer edge of the bed in the middle near my hips dipped, then the top near my head and finally the end of the bed. The quilt down my entire side tightened with the pressure and i felt the solid weight of a person lay there, i was between him and the wall and my freedom was painfully close on the other side of him. Again i stiffened up and brought my breathing down so slow i realised at some points i was actually holding my breath. I didn’t even want him to see one of my eyelids flicker because then he would know i was awake. My brain just stopped i wasn’t capable of thought in that moment, the only thing that registered was absolute dread and my heart beating so fast it sounded like a hum.
In my head pretending to sleep was my coping mechanism with these encounters, i did not want to see his face because i knew it was next to mine and he was facing me, the cool rhythmic breezes across my face alerted me to that. Loose strands of hair would play across my skin with each out breath and the tickling sensation would drive me insane but there was nothing i could do about it. Just be still and wait.
I am not sure if these nightly visits would last five minutes, ten minutes… i just know it felt like an eternity. The strange thing about it is when up close he wouldn’t breathe like a dying horse in my ear, suppose he was considerate like that but all jokes aside as you can probably imagine this really affected me. It happened on quite a few occasions and i soon learnt to sleep with my dressing gown smooshed up around my head on one side and a teddy on the other to cover my ears. I also took to wearing a sleep mask and wrapped myself with my new armour in a protective cocoon inside my quilt up to my head, a small arch above my face allowed for some airflow and it helped me find my own little bit of safe and in turn settling in for the night came a little more easy. I am sure when it came to some of the night visits i had actually fallen asleep for real.
I have only in the last year (ahem… i’m 30. Don’t judge :p) have stopped sleeping like that. The birth of my daughter persuaded me i needed to suck it up and deal with it. I have ditched the bedtime eye wear, the dressing gown too and my well worn teddy sits very close to the bed .. just in case.
I still religiously tuck my feet up though, you know safety first and all that.