The Play Seance that became Real
Kelly L. Stone is a mental health professional and author who's recent publications include an essay in Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul: Inspirational Stories about Sisters and Their Changing Relationships and the upcoming Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Daughters: Stories that Celebrate a Very Special Bond.
When I was a kid, I went to slumber parties a lot. Many of the girls in my class were "into" spooky ghost types of things, like conducting seances after the parents went to bed, playing with the Ouija board, and chanting over the rigid body of one of the girls that allowed the rest of us to raise her body high over our heads with just our fingertips.
I had always been interested in psychic phenomenon of any kind and had sort of a knack for predicting things that were about to happen, like the time I predicted my grandfather's (whom I had never met) death when I was five years old, much to the amazement of my mother. Friends liked to have me around because, as they told me, "weird things happen around you", such as doors unlocking by themselves, strange banging noises could be heard on the walls of the room I slept in, and once, rocks seemed to hurl themselves at the house while we were inside watching television.
As I grew up, the activities my playmates and I engaged in typically involved the paranormal. Seances became a favorite past-time, although we never really who knew who to conjure up. So when a good friend tragically died at the tender age of 13, it was natural for me to initiate a seance to try and contact this dear and deeply missed friend.
Three girlfriends and I gathered together on a hot summer day, in the middle of the afternoon, to conduct the seance. We decided it was silly to try to have a seance in broad daylight, so we lit candles and formed a tight circle in my parents' walk-in closet. It was totally dark in there, and the shadows cast by the candles made for an eerie atmosphere. We got freaked out and decided that total darkness was not necessarily a prerequisite for a good seance. We adjourned back to my room where we opened the curtains wide to let the Florida sunshine spill in. The door to my bedroom was closed, my mother was outside weeding her garden, my father and brother were off somewhere together. We were alone in the house.
We resumed our circle, knees touching, hands joined. We stared into the candle flames for a few minutes, and I felt myself fall into some sort of a mild trance. The other girls stared at me reverently and clasped hands more tightly. Something was happening to the air around us. It felt like it was getting charged up with electricity.
I made up some mumbo jumbo about asking the spirits to join us, to please be with us and protect us as crossed into the unknown world of death, et cetera. After I had gone on for a few minutes with this type of monologue I said, in all seriousness, "We ask that the spirit of (friend's name) join us now, we wish to speak to her."
What happened next surprised and scared the living daylights out of all of us. (Despite our belief in and respect for the paranormal, we were, after all, just a bunch of kids.) A heaviness had descended over the room like a blanket, making it difficult for me to breathe. The temperature in the room dropped suddenly, so abruptly and so sharply that I got chill bumps on my arms and legs. The candles flickered as if from a slight breeze. Then there was a noise like someone had knocked something off the dresser, something heavy. And there was a presence there beside the dresser, right where the noise had been. We could feel someone there, watching us through that veil that separates life from death. We all looked in that direction for a few seconds, half-expecting a complete materialization of the spirit who had made the noise. One of the girls asked, in a shaky voice, "what was that noise?".
And total pandemonium set in.
The girls and I ran out of the house like it had been set on fire. We crossed the street to one of the girls' homes and, in a flurry of adolescent exuberance, told her mother what had happened. The mother was a highly religious type who scolded us for conjuring up the spirits of the dead. There were some things, she said, that should just be left alone. Outwardly I agreed but in my mind I scoffed. The spirits are here, anyway, why not converse with them?
When I went back to my room that night, I had wax to clean up off the carpet because in our haste to get out of there, we had left the candles burning. After I was finished, I stood in the space that the spirit had occupied that afternoon. I did not feel afraid. The spirit had been the spirit of my friend, and she had entered my room by invitation after all. I was happy that she had taken the time to visit me, and I said so to the empty room, hoping that she could hear me.