Ghost Story

“What does it say Dad” asks Arthur in a quivering little voice. The sign was nailed to a tree right in the middle of the woods. We could just about make out the writing in the faint torchlight of my phone. It was in an old and ornate script.

“Well, it’s in Spanish of course, but I would translate it like this:

We the dead lie under your feet.
Like you we roamed the forest at night,
Then they came, they caught us, as we ran.
Listen and you will hear them now.
They are coming, coming, coming!

You walk on the path of death.
You walk on the path of pain.
You walk on the path of torment.
They are coming, coming, coming!

You must run.”

We stop still and listen for a long moment in the darkness. The forest around us groans and creaks and whispers.
I jump. “I think I can hear something!” I grip Arthur’s arm. He lets out a kind of moan
“No Daddy, no. It’s not real right? You’re being stupid”
“I think they’re coming…”

We run to catch up the girls. Arthur is in quite a state. I get badly told off by Menna but, flushed with wine and encouraged by the excellent reaction I have managed to get, I can’t help periodically creeping up to Arthur in the darkness and whispering “They’re coming, coming, coming!”

I do this all the way home.

This is how I ruin the night walk back from the restaurant in Boal. By the time we arrive back to Hotel Solanda, our farmhouse up in the mountains, both kids are in a real panic and Menna is absolutely furious with me. The silly ghost story has overshadowed the bats we saw, the hissing snake that crossed our path, the fine dinner down in town, the woodland path that we thought it would be romantic to take in the moonlight. My proposal to Menna that we might sit up and chat about life, drink whisky and look at the stars, is shot down angrily. I am sent out alone while she tries to restore calm.

“What did that sign really say?” ask the kids once they have been finally cajoled into bed. It is a chance at redemption, but I just can’t bring myself to say that it was only something dull about hunting restrictions.
“It said that they’re coming, coming, coming. I would be very careful tonight if I were you.”

And this is why I spend an extremely uncomfortable night on the sofa bed while Matilda takes my place next door in the master bedroom.

They never did come.

Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor.

Ovid

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