It was a moan that first stirred me out of my dream state. A brushing against my cheek came next. I wanted to scratch where the brushing had tickled me. My hands would come out from under the flannel bedsheets, opening the door to my cocoon. The room was so cold. My mouth exhaled a cloud of fog. The tickling triggered my eyelids, which had been heavy with sleep to open slightly.

That’s when I’d see her. My great-grand-ma. I screamed and screamed. Fine grey hair that had escaped her chignon continued to tickle me, only her face kept getting closer. Her lips moved. I did not hear a sound, but I saw her saying, “Come with me.” “No, no, help!” I would cry.

It seemed like an eternity before my mother would finally hear me and come for help. My twelve-year old body was in sweat. I was crying. Mother was shivering. There was always ice in the old double-hung window.

Mother would tell me there was nothing. But that wasn’t true. I could feel her. Hear her. Then, her face, neck and shoulders would back off, away from me. But I could still see her in the medicine cabinet hung on the opposite wall from my twin bed.

She wanted me to come join her, but I didn’t want to, I was too little. Mother told me great-grand-ma wasn’t there. But I saw her; I felt her; I heard her. Mother said that I had just had a bad dream and to go back to sleep.

I slept in her room, my dead great-grand-ma’s room. I slept in what had been her bed. She came back, time and time and time again. And I screamed, late into the night, the window frosted every time. Finally, I grew and, at eighteen, when I had saved enough money, I bought a chaise lounge sofa bed sleeper. My parents took her bed away. She didn’t come back.

I hope she is at peace now, Carmelite.

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