When my mother called me, I was already running across the road to the reddish, brick-walled building that jutted out from the street corner. At the beginning of December, my mother had wanted me to volunteer at a nursing home. Instead of relaxing on the couch, I’ll be spending most of my winter break entertaining and keeping the elderly occupied. However, today I wanted to play the piano, instead of my usual BINGO game with the Smith’s. The Rosemary Heights Senior Village is not really a great place to volunteer, for the view inside is overwhelming compared to the outside.
A couple of steps in and I could already see the blue dressed nurses performing their daily afternoon duties and the brown dressed nurses serving French onion soup. And beyond them, across the room, sat a piano and a few paintings. “Siobhan! SIOBHAN! ” Standing beside the paintings was my furious mother, staring at me with both arms on her hips. “I’m here mom,” I replied. “I have to go. I’ll see you in a bit. ” Despite my mother’s suspicious glare, I made sure to keep my sentences short and precise. Anything else said would have caused a discussion or an argument.
I quickly turned away before she could react and faced the elegant machine. The magical object was a smooth brown, decorated with ivory white and smaller keys of charcoal black. After a brief look, my fingers gently lowered and pressed on the keys. The machine was like a beast, being sent alive by my fingers frivolously dancing over the keys. I felt the sadness of the song seep into my veins and spread across the room. And it was in that particular moment that I knew something was horribly wrong. It was one of those impossible phenomenon’s: it always is.
While I lost myself in the music, I gradually began to feel the presence of a spiritual being as if it was directly behind me. I froze instantly, and tried to locate the ghost. The crowd gave me no clues; the continuous chatter showed no indication that anything was out of the ordinary. Still, I had long ago learned to trust my instincts. It took me several tries before any feeling returned in my fingers and I hesitantly continued on with my piece. A wonderful sound of icicles and sleigh bells flooded the room. But slowly, and surely, I felt the presence again.
In that heart-freezing, gut-wrenching moment, all eyes were on me. I whirled madly in my seat, scanning the entire audience. The bright room silhouetted the soft but unmistakable shadow of a woman. But there was no one there, of course. There couldn’t have been – yet I definitely did not feel alone. Even now, I do not like to remember those next few minutes, as fear clouded my mind, destroying all logic and reason. I knew then what it must have been like to work in a nursing home, having to see patients experience sheer panic while no one could understand why. “Please! I gasped.
“Someone please help me and–” I never finished my sentence; they said I was unconscious. I must have fallen backwards and smashed into the floor because when the nurses came, I could not move my legs. But who on earth wouldn’t have blacked out when a brown-haired woman was smiling beside you? And so I was the last person to know what happened. When I finally came to my senses, a bunch of people were gathered around me, except for my mother. She was too busy gazing at the Mona Lisa painting, the brown-haired woman, that was placed perfectly behind the piano.