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Real Life Ghost Stories

This is one of those real life ghost stories that's a classic example of not believing what is right in front of your eyes.

I Got Out - Didn't I?

Winter can be a wonderful few months, it can also be the most fickle and conniving of the seasons. This was one of those years winter liked to play.

There was a good solid layer of snow covering the ground and the air had enough of a bite to it to make you want to bundle your scarf a bit tighter around your neck, yet it wasn't so bad you had to hide indoors huddled around the woodstove. It did a fine job of freezing ponds into skating rinks and turning the river into a virtual causeway. It was pretty much a perfect winter.

frozen river
Photo Courtesy of John De Boer

For a bunch of kids stuck out in the country, miles from anything that could even remotely be considered fun, never mind exciting, snowmobiles and winter were a godsend.

If you worked just a few hours you could earn enough to fill your tank, and that tank of gas would last for a lot of miles. Those miles paid out better and were legal, if you didn't have a car license, if you went cross country. By the end of winter there weren't too many open fields that weren't crisscrossed with set after set of skidoo tracks. Everybody traveled the fields, and most travelled the river.

The high school was in a small town smack in the middle of farm country. On bright warm days if classes were a bit thin, and they usually were, you could find most skippers down by the water, we were a tough group to keep penned.

But on the last Friday of every month the school gym would just about pop its seams. As the principal would often comment, with just a hint of sarcasm, "Maybe we should take attendance in here."

"Only if itís eight o'clock and there's music", someone would smart mouth back and everyone would cheer and another school dance was under way.

School dances were a big thing. School dances were the only thing happening. You didn't miss one, come hell or high water.

You never wanted to be late for a dance either. You usually got there early and sucked up every single second. Four hours is short - unless it turns into an eternity.

This Friday night the boys were late.

The gym was packed and the music was just about ready to start. The lights were low enough to make seeing across the gym hard, if not impossible. Even if someone stood in front of you their face was a bit murky. Someone had decided flashing coloured lights over the crowd added that special touch, it made seeing clearly that much harder.

I squeezed my way between clumps of kids searching for my friends. Someone had to be here by now.

I stopped short when I almost bumped into Hugh, one of the boys I was waiting for. He was still wearing his skidoo suit, minus his helmet and gloves. He looked wet.

"Jeez, what happened to you?"

"I broke through the ice."

A shiver ran through me, damned ice had looked solid enough, you just never could tell for sure.

Hugh looked like he was ready to cry. I understood why, he loved his snowmobile. He'd worked every weekend for a year to get enough money to buy it. Even with that it was second hand. He'd tuned it and cared for it till it ran as smooth as any of the new ones out there. Now it was gone.

"You're just lucky you got out, that's all that matters." That sounded pretty lame to me, but I barely managed to get that much out.

Breaking through the ice wasn't a simple thing. Even if it was thin in spots it was usually double thick in others, like right where you came up for air. If that happened the chances of breaking through and getting out were next to zero.

"Hey," Hugh broke out in that crooked toothed smile of his that made him look about twelve. "I did get out didn't I?"

I nodded, finally smiling too. "Yeah, you did."

A hand gripped my shoulder. I turned to see a boy I didnít recognize. "Are you all right?" he asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"You're sure? You donít need any help?"

I didnít know who this kid was, some senior, probably from the social committee wandering around trying to butter up some votes for the next election. He'd likely graduate and go straight into politics. He'd probably make it too, he had the 'I'm truly concerned about you' look, down pat.

"I'm fine. Really."

He nodded slowly like he wasn't convinced, squeezed my shoulder and then left, though he turned around once just to stare. Kind of rude really.

When I turned back to Hugh, he was gone. I imagine if I was standing in a soaking wet snowmobile suit I'd be getting about my business too.

I moved across the rest of the gym and finally found a few of my girlfriends. I told them about Hugh and we went through the 'man, he is so lucky', routine.

Heather joined us about a half hour later.

"I can't find Hugh anywhere, I donít think he came." The two had been dating about six months and Hugh always seemed to be either late or lost.

I was happy to come to his rescue this time, "I talked to him earlier. He broke through the ice coming up the river. He's fine, but he lost his skidoo. He probably couldn't find you and went home to change. He was pretty wet, I imagine he's half frozen too."

She looked stricken and I couldn't blame her, news like that is a little tough to take. "I'm going to his house. He should still be there." We all agreed that was a good idea and she left.

The night wound down and then was over and the weekend followed it almost as quickly.

The following Monday school was just as it'd always been, the gang was huddled around Heatherís locker, though Heather wasn't there. I got close and two of the girls gave me an odd look, mumbled something about being late for class and started down the hall. Their heads touched as they walked and talked, as if they had some great secret the other kids would want to hear.

"Something I said?" I asked Beth.

She cocked her eyebrow, a look she thought made her look smart. "You don't know."

"Ummm...guess not."

She dropped the eyebrow thing and almost looked like she could pull off adult if she tried just a little bit harder. "You honestly don't know?" she said again.

"No. Would you like to let me in on it?"

"Hugh died Friday night."

A sucker punch usually comes out of nowhere and lays you out, this was worse, I was still standing.

"What happened?" I was thinking it had to have been hypothermia from falling in the river, but he hadnít seemed that cold.

"He fell through the ice."

"A second time? He didnít go back out on the river after what happened earlier?"

Beth was still talking while I tried to come to grips with Hugh going back on the river. "Around eight o'clock..." she said.

"I was talking to him around eight, he was fine. He was wet and upset, but he was fine." She'd gotten the story mixed up, that's all it was.

She took my hands and stared right in my eyes. "Around eight oíclock Hugh and the guys started on the river to make their way to school. Hugh was first. His skidoo went through the ice. The guys saw it happen. They tried to spot him but the current is strong right there. There was nothing they could do."

She shook her head, "You couldn't have talked to him at eight, he never got out..."

Real life ghost stories aren't the same as the tales folks tell around campfires that are supposed to scare the wits out of you just for fun. Real life ghost stories cut to the quick, especially if you missed the obvious Ė that you were talking to a ghost.

Ghosts don't always fit the transparent as gossamer appearance everyone is so fond of. Sometimes they walk and talk and look just like you and me.

So the next time you're walking down the street and see a stranger looking a little out of place - maybe you should take a closer look.

If you enjoy reading ghost stories go from Real Life Ghost Stories to True Ghost Stories weíve gathered a few more for you.

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