Thursday, May 11, 2017

A True Ghost Story (I should know. I was there.)

by Giselle Renarde

I'm a sucker for a good ghost story. Or a bad one. I'm really not picky.

After I'd booked the inn Sweet and I stayed at during the momentous anniversary trip I told you about a couple weeks ago, I noticed a page on their website: Haunted Hotel. They'd posted clips from a time when their inn had been featured on some ghostie show.

I love a good ghostie show. Or a bad one! I love any ghostie show.  I love shows where people talk about their haunting experiences. I love shows where true ghost stories are reenacted. I don't even care if it's all fake. I'm totally willing to suspend disbelief in exchange for that frisson I get when I'm scared of the unknown.

I like experiencing fear vicariously, through other people's ghostly experiences.

Does that mean I want to see a ghost myself?


I can't imagine coming face to face with the supernatural.  My #1 fear about buying a house (not that I could ever afford one) is that it might be haunted, and then what would I do? Move back into a high-rise built in the 70s, probably.  No ghosts here.

My girlfriend has seen things.  She works in theatre, and every theatre is haunted. Well, maybe not, but one of the ones where she used to do summerstock work had a reputation for ghostly happenings.  It was featured twice on a ghost hunting show.

While my girlfriend worked there, she often heard noises or saw strange movements when she was alone in the building. One time it was just her and her assistant in the theatre.  They both witnessed a shadowy shape moving across the stage. They turned to each other simultaneously and asked, "Did you see that?"  A question that pretty much answers itself.

But here's the one I've been thinking about lately: we were alone in the theatre one night after a performance. She'd locked every door. The cast, crew, volunteers, patrons--everyone had left.  This was early in our relationship and we couldn't keep our hands to ourselves.  We were at the back of the theatre, touching each other in our bathing suit areas, when suddenly she pulled away.

She told me we had to go.

I asked why. Things were just getting interesting, and we had the whole place to ourselves.

Or maybe we didn't.

Over my shoulder, she'd seen an apparition of some sort.  There was a shape moving onstage, same thing she'd seen with her assistant during a different production.  She felt uncomfortable in the space.  She wanted to leave.

But here's the thing: all I noticed was Sweet's reaction.  I didn't feel any change in the atmosphere.  I didn't sense any ghost.  I didn't feel anything.

Lately it's really started sinking in that she's so much more sensitive than I am.  When we have a big argument, it bothers her for weeks, sometimes months.  I flip on the TV and I'm over it.  She feels things so much more deeply than I do.  I know how much I love her, but I'm starting to think I can't even imagine how much she loves me.  Maybe I don't have access to that kind of bigness of heart feelings.  I'm too closed off.

I wonder if "sensitives" (in the paranormal sense--people who can sense spirits) are also more emotionally sensitive than jerks like me. Assuming for a second that there was an actual paranormal manifestation taking place right behind me, was I oblivious to it because I'm so insensitive? Could Sweet see it because she has heightened sensitivities, emotional and spiritual?

Or was she just unlucky enough to have been facing in the right direction?
Giselle Renarde is an award-winning queer Canadian writer. Nominated Toronto’s Best Author in NOW Magazine’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards, her fiction has appeared in well over 100 short story anthologies, including prestigious collections like Best Lesbian Romance, Best Women’s Erotica, and the Lambda Award-winning collection Take Me There, edited by Tristan Taormino. Giselle's juicy novels include Anonymous, Cherry, Seven Kisses, and The Other Side of Ruth.

Giselle Renarde
Canada just got hotter!


  1. Okay, first off, my fave Canuck romance writer is into ghosts? Squee!

    Second, congrats on 9 years with your beloved - that is awesome!

    Lastly, your comment about sensitives really struck me. I definitely see the correlation there, and it's something I've touched on a bit in my long-gestating transgender romance/ghost story. :)

  2. I'm terrified of ghosts myself, though I've often asked myself what would be so terrible about being totally sure I'd seen one, rather than just wondering. I think I would much rather believe none of those things are true, and I'm scared of being forced to acknowledge a different reality.

    Really good post, except that I don't think you're a jerk at all.

    <3 <3 <3

    1. I feel like you'd have to be your best self in that moment to react in a way you'd feel proud of afterwards. Assuming the ghost is just a confused dead person and they're acting out because they want your help. How do you know the difference between a confused spirit and a malicious entity?

  3. I would LOVE to meet a ghost. The after life? I'd yell "I have so many questions for you!"

    1. Not sure I'd want to know about the afterlife. I don't mind waiting until I die to find out.

  4. "My #1 fear about buying a house (not that I could ever afford one) is that it might be haunted"

    Not that it would have a leaking septic system? Or termites? Or some sort of killer fungi lurking under the sinks? ;^)

    I really like your ideas about "sensitives", though. Started me thinking about ANOTHER story for the ERWA paranormal anthology. (All these ideas, and no time!)

    1. You can fix problems you can see. You just need money and/or know-how. Ghosts are a whole nother kettle of fish. I stand by my statement.

  5. I'm definitely not sensitive to things like ghosts, but maybe I try to deny their existence because I have a horror of actually becoming a ghost when i die. Or of people I love suffering that fate--although, of course, I have no idea what that fate would be like.

    1. It would suck to be a benevolent ghost just paying your loved ones a visit and they freak out because they don't realize it's you etc.

      I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh lord, please don't let me be misunderstood!

  6. Fascinating post and thread, Giselle. I used to love the TV program "Ghost Whisperer" because the whisperer helped the troubled dead resolve their problems. I love the idea of (harmless) communication between the living and the dead. I've often wished that murder victims like my grandpa ( who was killed and robbed in 1970) could come back to identify their assailants.