Sitting around the campfire
The counselor has the complete attention of his charges.
They huddle wide-eyed in a circle
Hanging on his every word.
The forest ground is damp with anticipation.
As the tale is told the darkness envelopes.
The wind whistles eerily through the branches above.
The storyteller dramatically lowers his voice to whisper.
So entranced are the imaginations of these innocents,
That the crack of a twig unnerves them.
The occasional spark leaping from the flames of the campfire
Becomes a gunshot to the focused ears.
Every “ghost story” crescendos towards its climax
With the “thump…thump…thump” of an unseen villain
Getting closer… and closer… to the targeted heroine.
The counselor’s face flickers above the flames.
The children’s nerves are taut.
Their wide eyes focused on the mouth of the storyteller
“Thump, thump, thump” closing in, getting closer,
My own experience, one rainy day produced,
A mirror of just such a “Ghost Story.”
That day rain poured outside with gusty winds,
Bright flashes and cracking thunder exploding in succession.
I sat comfortably in my electric recliner. Relaxing alone.
I watched the storm through the stage of the room’s bay window.
Stark white flashes split the dark clouds
Followed by a loud, bone-rattling BOOM!
Then silent realization flowed into my mind.
I was trapped in my un-powered recliner.
My Parkinsonian helplessness kept me imprisoned.
No phone, no electricity, no one else home.
Calming my nerves, I decided I could sleep in the chair.
The lighting was subsiding. I could still hear it clap in the distance.
The rhythm of the rain would lull me, I hoped, until the power returned
or my husband came home to rescue me.
I closed my eyes and set my mind to sleep.
A “thump, thump, thump”… began a regular beat.
I opened my eyes suddenly very alert.
No dream. The sound came from the other end of the house.
“Thump, thump, thump”… my heart leaped to my throat!
Was there an intruder? Did he cut the utility wires before entering?
Shaking with fear, I struggled to silently escape my chair.
“Thump, Thump, Thump”… sounding down the hall.
What to do? My recliner is next to the fireplace.
I nervously picked up an iron poker from the stand next to it.
“Thump, thump, thump”… persisted, coming from behind the closed bedroom door.
I stood outside listening. My heart matching each thump.
Holding my breath. Girding my strength.
I raised the poker ready to strike
As I put my hand on the doorknob
The loud rhythmic “thump, thump, thump”… was unnerving.
Behind that door was an intruder
Will I be able to defend myself on my unsteady legs?
“Thump, thump, thump”…
I slowly opened the door to confront my fear…
No one in the room…empty!
But the “thump, thump, thump”… still continued on the other side of the room
I looked down amazed to see my new, innocently trapped, robotic vacuum
Stuck banging against the wall…
Used by permission of the author.