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Sunday 30 October 2011

Halloween Tales - Part 2

My earliest paranormal experience happened when I was pretty young, and sorry to disappoint the horror fans, but it was anything but scary.

I'm not sure of my exact age at the time, but my folks reckon no more than five. I came down with some bug or another - kids that age always seem to have something, but considering it knocked me into bed for a couple of days it must have been nasty - and I remember lying in bed, under the covers,  feeling unbelievably thirsty.
My head hurt, my body hurt, my mom had left the room, and all I could think about was a glass of water in my plastic Skippy cup, with little beads of liquid running down the sides, and that my throat would feel better once I'd taken that first sip.

Since I was too sick to even try climbing out of bed, I squeezed my eyes shut (the wallpaper pattern was dancing when I looked at it, and it made the headache worse), and just whimpered a little.

When I felt a woman's hand touch my forehead, and then a pair of lips kiss the top of my head, I thought my mom had come back in.
But when I opened my eyes, it was somebody I'd never seen, wearing a pink dress, and smiling at me. I remember she had dark hair, and I thought she was pretty, and I liked her perfume.

I wasn't scared - considering my past history of happily wandering up to strangers and chatting to them if my mother took her eyes off of me for a second, that's not too surprising - and when she smiled at me, and said she'd come to see how I was feeling, I didn't actually think twice.

I told her I was thirsty. She went into the bathroom and came back with my water, and then she said she couldn't stay long but it was lovely to see me. And then she left.

When my mom came in a few minutes later, I asked her if her friend would be coming back, and to please say thank you for the water, because I'd been too busy drinking it to say anything.

Mom asked me what I was talking about. I told her. The now empty Skippy cup sat beside my bed, and I showed it to her.

I'm fairly sure my mom freaked out at that point, since a few minutes later she was on the telephone to dad, who came home early from work, and I'm also fairly sure they searched the house.

There was nobody else there. My mom hadn't had any visitors, her friends were at working, and the doors were locked.

I do know I was back on my feet the next morning, and that I never forgot the lady in the pink dress, who visited me and was kind.

Every now and then I would mention her while I was growing up, and my parents would exchange uneasy glances and change the subject.
A couple of years ago, my parents came out to the UK on holiday, and we took a trip up to Windsor to see my dad's cousin.

Halfway through the visit, Stuart hauled out a stack of very old photographs he'd found, and we were happily looking through them and passing them around, with my dad excitedly pointing out faces of family and friends from fifty odd years ago.

Stuart passed dad and I one particular photo and said: "You might want to take that one, cuz."
Both of us looked at it. Both of us got very quiet.
It was a picture of a pretty young woman with dark hair, and although she wasn't wearing the pink dress, I recognized her immediately.

I looked at my dad and realised it was a picture of his mom. She'd passed away when he was a teenager. I had never seen a colour photo of her.

We stepped outside for a cigarette, dad still looking a bit melancholy.

"She was beautiful," I said.
"Yes," he agreed. Then, added: "You looked a bit strange in there."
"Yes, well. You remember telling me how you wished we'd met your mom?" I asked.
He nodded, and took another draw on his cigarette.
"Dad, the pink lady, when I was sick. That was her." I glanced at him and he nodded, slowly. "She's the one who brought me my water. So technically, I reckon I met her."

My dad flicked the last ash from his cigarette away, and cleared his throat.
"She had a pink dress she wore a lot when I was little," he said. "You're sure?"
"Yes," I said. "It was her."

When we went back inside, my father was smiling.


J H Sked is the author of WolfSong & Basement Blues.
You can find WolfSong on Amazon, Sony  e-bookstore, Nook, iTunes &  Smashwords. Basement Blues is on Amazon, SmashwordsiTunes  and  Nook 

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Halloween tales - Part 1

I've had a few people ask what triggered my interest in the paranormal, and the honest answer is - it's always seemed interested in me.

It seemed polite - and wise - to return the favour. In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I'd share a couple of the stranger things that have happened.

One of my earlier experiences, and one which scared the daylights out of me, happened when I was a pre-teen. It's also the reason I never sleep with a mirror facing me if I can help it; I never want this particular experience again.

I'd moved schools. One of the friends I'd left behind was a girl who had long, curly black hair that fell well past her shoulders. I would have given a lot for hair like that; my own was mousey-brown and cropped short. Considering I still managed to get gum in it (don't ask - it seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do at the time), I can't blame my mom for keeping it that way.

I missed my friend; we phoned and visited each other for the first few months, but when new friends came along, we drifted out of touch.

I hadn't thought of her in months. Then, late one night, something woke me up.

I have no idea what made me wake up, shivering from cold, despite it being the middle of summer. I do know that I sat up, feeling uneasy, feeling that there was something wrong.

After a few minutes, I decided to get a glass of water, and switched on my bedside light. As the glow through the lampshade sped through the room, I looked over at the dressing table, with the fancy mirror - and I froze.

My hair was tumbling, in dark, lustrous curls, past my shoulders. It was long enough to show strands almost at my waist, swinging as I gasped and inhaled, ready to scream - and then it was gone. The glorious curls in the mirror vanished and my room started to warm up again.

Eventually I climbed out of bed to go to the bathroom, which I needed very badly right then.

I had no idea what had happened. All I knew was that it scared me badly enough to sleep with my light on for the next 2 nights.

3 days after the ghost hair episode, the phone rang. My mom sat me down to tell me that my friend had died in a car crash a couple of days earlier.

It didn't take a genius to make the connection, and I knew she'd never hurt me - but more than 20 years later, I try not to sleep with a mirror facing me. I've lost more than a few people since that night - and I have no urge to find out what else will visit me through that silver-backed gateway.


J H Sked is the author of WolfSong & Basement Blues.
You can find WolfSong on Amazon, Sony  e-bookstore, Nook, iTunes &  Smashwords. Basement Blues is on Amazon, SmashwordsiTunes  and  Nook 

Saturday 8 October 2011

Guest Blog - Jacqueline Dick

If you're on twitter and you have an appreciation for poetry, do yourself a favour and look up Jacqueline Dick, who twits under the handle @fumanchucat. If you're not on twitter, wonder over to her website, and have a look at her longer work. 
Poetry is a difficult art form to get right. To manage it in 140 characters, touch your audience, and evoke a genuine response, lifts it into the realm of magic. 
Here's one of my personal favourites of her micro-poetry:
Moon sees / barbed wire /and hides / behind cloud

So when I stumbled over her words (got to love that re-tweet button), and then got chatting to her and then managed to sweet-talk her in guest blogging for me, I got very excited (yes, I get excited a lot. Dealing with remarkable talent does that to me, every time). 

Then she sent me the post below, which for me - and no doubt a lot of us writing folk out there - just sums up the whole story.          


Why Do I Write? – a short personal essay

 I’m at a cocktail party. Guy standing next to me at buffet table, scarfing little toothpicked meatballs and double dipping cracker spread. “So waddya do?” he asks me. ”About what?” my wise-guy retort. Oh , I knew full well he’s not asking me if I have a viable solution to oil spills. I know what’s he’s asking and why. But do I want to be defined by what I do for a living, or for an avocation? Well, do I? Partly, yes.”I’m a writer,” I said, scarfing my own little stash of meatballs. Guy lifts eyebrow. “Oh? So waddya write?” “Words, words, words…..” I cleverly parry, borrowing from Hamlet. 

Why dance, why paint, why blow notes and air through a tuba…because we have to. But what does that really mean? 

 The real answer for me? It’s as if someone is knocking at my door and I’m ambivalent about answering. Or the telephone is ringing….now on it’s 4th ring before it goes to message. Damn it! Okay! Answer the knock on the door. Pick up the dang dong phone! I gotta know who’s at the door. Who is phoning me. Same with writing. Something is nagging at me. A thought, maybe evoked by a hurtful remark by an acquaintance. A racist remark overheard on a bus. I have to explore, it, define it somehow. I don’t paint, I’m not a photographer. But I do have a way with words. And with writing…any emotion evoked by beauty, need, anger, love, there comes that knock on the door to my soul. That persistent call… to explore the universality of these feelings, to dissect, to find exactly the right words that will cause me and others to say “Yes!” That epiphany, that aha! moment. And, to mitigate the loneliness of experiencing that moment by sharing it with others. 

 There’s the added question. Do I write for myself, or for others. Both. First, what am I thinking, feeling about the topic. Gotta get it down. Define it, and that defines part of me. Someone else’s critique is valuable in that it forces me to sometimes go on a word diet, or change the recipe a little to make it more distinctive, more palatable. So, sure, I write for others. That helps me to validate what I think, what I write. And when my colleagues and readers review and critique, if they nail it, I’m emotionally and spiritually nourished. 

Falling Up 

Walkin’ Downtown 
Mood down black-brown 

Sun-filled Farmer’s Market 
Sensuality of rainbowed ripening fruits 

 Basket cornucopia overloads 
Spilling to ground 

 Strong sinewy male helping hand  
Frisson on neck’s nape 
 Sudden senseless jealousy 
Of fruit hand touched

Unwelcome crazed thought  
Stranger’s fingers prodding, testing me 

From hand to eyes 
Amused, blue, crinkled-cornered 

 Naked confusion, damn! 
 Unfair full wattage smile 

 Ancient recognition, trampolining heart  
Starting no-net tightrope walk 
Falling, falling, falling 


 A Little Night Music – a poem 

 Cellos’ deep sounding smile 
Scent of earth and rain 
After the storm 

 Now the darkling
 Bass, violas, castanets 
Sound nocturnal romance
 Exciting moon and stars to dance

Ecru sounds
Of a lyrical moon 
Piccolo and flute
Fugue to 
Twinkling lights
 En pointe stars 

Tenor chants 
Plaintive song
In wee hours
Only shadows hear

The sounds of flowers 
The strings of the firmament 
The heart’s harp 
Poetry that needs no words 



J H Sked is the author of WolfSong & Basement Blues.
You can find WolfSong on Amazon, Sony  e-bookstore, Nook, iTunes &  Smashwords. Basement Blues is on Amazon, SmashwordsiTunes  and  Nook