In third grade, I saw a ghost: it was a cloudy Wednesday afternoon, and I just came home from elementary school. My dad was working and my mom (who usually greeted me when I came home from school) was finishing up her nursing degree, so my brother — a high school student at the time — was forced to babysit me. Now I’ve lived my entire life in this house in suburban Chicago and had never experienced anything paranormal, but something was off that day: aside from the overcast skies and the winter cold stripping all the branches of their leaves, I remember nearly all the curtains were closed and the blinds were down in the house — there definitely was a weird, creepy vibe going on in the house, if not just enshrouded in darkness on a Wednesday afternoon.
Furthermore, I vividly recall watching Tiny Toons: it was a particularly scary episode where a top-hatted vampire was stalking Babs and Buster Bunny. My brother was napping on the couch next to me, snoring loudly. As the cartoon vampire transformed into some ethereal black mass and sauntered through the woods of Acme University, that’s where I saw it: across the family room where I was, beyond the dining room and into the living room (hey, we had an open concept house) I saw a ghost.
In front of the closed vertical blinds of the living room’s windows, a white and translucent figure appeared and hovered. He looked like he was wearing a hospital gown, but he faded into nothing everywhere below the pelvis. He had no distinguishable eyes but rather large, black voids. He looked a ghostly version of my grandpa, who was alive at the time, or how my dad looks now.
In any event I was frightened, and I immediately woke up my brother. Angered that I woke him up from his nap, he spanked me in the arm. He fell back asleep, and I hid underneath the couch’s covers, crying. It wasn’t until my parents returned home a few hours later that I — in tears of seeing a ghost and partially of my brother being a shitty babysitter — that I spoke about what I saw.
Naturally, no one in my family believed me.
Today, I still can’t explain what I saw. Maybe it was the heater blowing against the closed vertical blinds and light escaping in. Maybe I was affected by that scary episode of Tiny Toons. Maybe there was LSD in the drinking water of Chicago. Who the hell knows, but I saw what I saw. Now, there’s been no history of any deaths in my childhood home (and believe me, I checked). At the time, no one significant in my family had died. And now, in 2016, my parents sold the house in Illinois and moved to California.
So here’s my theory on this — and please, bear with me — fucking time travel. Like Donnie Darko-time travel. I can’t explain why this apparition looked like my grandfather or my dad, but I myself have a strong resemblance to them when they were younger. As I grow older, I can only imagine that I’ll look like my dad or grandpa. Perhaps in the far future, when time travel technology potentially exists, I’ll be in the hospital — adorned in a gown — and on my deathbed. As a final request, the staff will ask me if I had one last wish. I’ll reply that I want to travel back in time to visit my younger self, at my old house, even for a few moments. No words of wisdom would be spoken or any significant message will be imparted, but just to scare the shit out of a little kid.