During my second year of university, I moved out of halls and lived in a student house. When we first moved in, it seemed perfect. It was on a secluded street, my bedroom overlooked an old convent, and it had all of its original Victorian features. But considering I grew up in a super creepy and obviously haunted Georgian house, I really should have known something was going to happen. That something was Alan.
Alan was a ghost, and the official fourth roommate of our house. At first, we’d just hear the creaking. ‘It’s a an old house,’ we’d cry, ‘that’s what they do’. But I always knew something wasn’t right. Shortly after, the creaking turned into slamming doors. ‘But old houses do that too, right? Right?’ But really, I knew it was Alan telling us to close the doors behind us and keep the heat in. After all, he didn’t want roommates who were raised in a barn. By this point, it was obvious that we had a ghost. Or the ghost had us, because technically he was there first. So I started to talk to him. If the door would slam, I would apologise. When I came back from a lecture, I would greet him just as I would my other housemates. It’s a habit I developed when I was growing up, because living in a giant old house as an only child does things to a person. I decided at a very young age that it would be safer to make any ghosts I sensed like me. And at nineteen years old this still seemed like a perfectly logical thing to do. Much like it does now, at twenty one.
So he became Alan. I didn’t know if the ghost was a man or a woman, but I just felt like like he was a male presence, and Alan was the first thing that popped into my head when I decided it would only be polite to give him a name. The last thing I wanted to be was rude, and I remember sitting on the little yellow sofa in the living room and whispering ‘If we’ll be living together, it’s only fair that you have a name. Shall I call you Alan? Let me know if you don’t like it!’ Then I waited. Looking awkwardly around the room, as if this would be the first time he showed me some sort of form. He didn’t. But he also didn’t make any loud banging noises, so I presumed that he was happy with the chosen name. And we went along with our day.
Unlike when I was growing up in my childhood home, I never felt any threat around Alan. The only time I remember feeling too scared to sleep was after seeing The Woman In Black, because in my state of exhaustion I kept thinking that my giant cutout of an Academy Award statue was her watching me sleep. I had decided that Alan lived in the under-stairs cupboard, because I always got a little feeling whenever I opened it, and I used to knock if I ever needed to go in. ‘Alan, I’m coming in, okay?’ He was fully integrated into life in the house, and my housemate Sammy and I would often refer to him in conversations. Slamming door? Better say hello to Alan. So I thought that as far as human/ghost relationships go, we had a pretty good one. If you’re gonna spend all of eternity floating around and slamming doors, you might as well do it with someone who acknowledges your existence. Even if we couldn’t have conversations, and even if he couldn’t take corporeal form– it must be better than the never-ending stream of ‘it’s only the wind… it’s an old house, they do that… don’t be silly, ghosts don’t exist’. But then it happened.
I was alone in the house. I was heading out to a lecture, and was putting something in the kitchen bin before I left. Just as I took my first step out of the kitchen– BANG— I turned around, and saw our giant wooden chopping board in the middle of the floor. It used to live on top of the fridge, right at the other side of the kitchen. I hadn’t touched it. And there it was, on the floor. When logical reasoning failed to tell me why my chopping board had flown across the room, I moved on to what is affectionally (I hope) known as ‘Rosy Logic’. And Rosy Logic told me that Alan did it. So I scuttled off to university, quite glad to be out of the house and away from the chopping board… which was still on the floor because no way in the nine circles of Hell was I going anywhere near it. If horror films have taught me anything, it’s that an angry spirit is never a good thing. I’d take Casper over Poltergeist any day.
Alan never attacked me again. Or anyone else. And I continued to say hello to him whenever a door mysteriously closed or I heard banging in the walls. I even wanted to leave a note for the next tenants after we moved, letting them know that they lived with a ghost called Alan, who was friendly 99% of the time. I didn’t want him to go back to being alone.
You may read this blog post and think that I’m deluded or hysterical or just really weird. But I’ve always felt like ghosts exist, and I enjoyed my time with Alan. Even if I’ll never know why he threw a chopping board at my head (maybe he had some ghost friends down that day, ones who didn’t like humans). I think the idea of spirits is really interesting, and I love to debate their existence whenever I find myself discussing The Mysteries Of The Universe. I think you can tell a lot about a person by their answer to ‘so, do you believe in ghosts?’
My name is Rosanna Parrish. I believe in the things that go bump in the night. I believe that unicorns must have existed once upon a time, or we wouldn’t have them on our passports. I believe that we can’t be the only lifeforms in the whole of that giant thing we call space. And I believe in ghosts.