Lilacs

My first, but not last encounter, with the metaphysical world occurred in December of 1996.

I was home, studying for Christmas exams, lost in the turbulent throes of Calculus, Algebra and Accounting. My grandmother had passed away just a few weeks prior due to brain cancer. It had been a long and difficult illness for the entire family but we took some solace in the fact that she was finally at rest and no longer in pain.

She'd lived with us for close to ten years at that point and we'd been very close.

I was in the basement, papers strewn on the couch, the desk and the floor, madly stuffing facts and equations into my head. My family had had the good judgement to depart the premises as I usually worked myself up into quite the frenzy just before exams. I was sitting at the desk when I felt the temperature in the room plummet. My first inclination was that someone had left a window open and that I'd just failed to notice it until now. I checked the window above the desk and in the downstairs bathroom and bedroom. All of them were closed and locked. I checked the furnace to make sure no one had fiddled with the controls. It was still properly set but the thermometer on the wall recorded a ten-degree drop in temperature. It was a tad unsettling but I quickly fetched a sweater and returned to my studies. A few minutes later, the air was permeated with the strong scent of lilacs. As it turns out, my grandmother loved lilacs. She always had fresh-cut lilacs in the house during the spring and she wore a lilac-scented perfume. Now, the hair on my arms and the back of my neck were standing at full attention.

I pushed myself away from the desk and turned to the empty room. "Grandma?" I said aloud, feeling slightly odd. I moved towards the center of the room and walked into 'something'. It wasn't like walking into a wall or a door. It was more like standing in an open window while a strong wind billowed curtains up around you. I felt something brush my face and the scent of lilacs became overpowering. My mind finally registered the full impact of what I was encountering. It was both terrifying and reassuring all at once. And then it was gone. I proceeded to turn every light in the house on and waited upstairs for my family to return. I never told them what happened but I can still feel her in my parents' house whenever we visit. It may be nothing more than a fleeting shadow out of the corner of my eye but I know she's there.

Submitted by Steven, Ontario, Canada