Friday, August 18, 2006

When childhood ghosts hit you in the middle of a crowd

I was walking down Ku´damm this afternoon when I saw a poster for the film Lady in the Water, with big wet footprints over a wooden floor.

When I was young I read a ghost story about some children who, when staying with a distant relative, come across strange wet, muddy footprints in one of the old buildings on the property. They belong to a young girl whose old-fashioned dress is soaked through, weeds clinging to her and who is, quite clearly, dead. Her story is that she was sent away by her family to marry, her mother sewing the dowry in jewels into her hoop skirt. Her steamer sank in the Mississippi and the survivors walked. Here is where I no longer know what happened - either she survived but was weak and ill and was carried, or she was already dead and her body was being carried by a man off the boat. He decided to remove the hoops to make her lighter, found the jewels and ended up burying her on the property where these children were now staying. Right under a small post that marked the path to this outbuilding.

Now I know (now) that this film is about something completely different, but that story left major marks on me and the film poster made me stop suddenly in the middle of a crowded footpath, heart pounding. If anyone can offer me any ideas what it was - if they´d heard it before - I would love to track it down. I think I read it in a compendium of ghost stories (including another about a man who had a fever and was buried alive because they THOUGHT he was dead and his ghost kept appearing with it´s back to everyone saying "Turn me over" and when they dug up the grave they found the scratch marks and I think he´d chewed his lips off, but that may have been yet ANOTHER story).

Actually, looking back on it, that book may explain a large number of childhood and early teen nightmares. The first fifteen minutes of Nightmare on Elm Street explain the next fifteen years of them.

I don´t do horror well. Oh no, not at all.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

did you review Edgar Allan Poe? Sounds like his kinda thing... especially the man being buried alive...
B

Lauren said...

Hi, I don't know the name of the book, but I also read it as a child and it haunted me. I'm trying to find it again! Your memory of it is much clearer than mine, as well...