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November 2007

They say that children are more likely to have encounters with the spiritual world. In this case, they are most definitely right.

My parents own a large French Second Empire mansion dated around 1860. I grew up in this house, and as a child I always felt a certain strangeness. I was always afraid of it. The dark wallpapered hallways with dim antique light fixtures created eerie shadows and old smells. I always slept with the hall light on. This is not the case with my young nephew.

Taff has never been afraid of the house. He loves to run through the old rooms giggling and screaming, and never once ran from the restored front rooms in quiet fear. The following story happened when he was around 4 years old.

My sister and her husband lived with my parents in the old house while they were in transition of buying a new one. It's plenty large enough and it was wonderful for everyone to be around to take care of and play with their only son at that time, Taff.

We're not sure when it all began, but Taff began to play with an "imaginary" friend. If we were about to have dinner, Taff would run upstairs and shout "BOBBY!!!!" None of us had any idea what he was talking about, and chuckled at his quirky personality. My sister would ask him "Hey Taff, who's Bobby?" And Taff would say "Bobby's my friend." I was in college at this time, and would come home during holidays and the occasional weekend visit.

One night, around 1:00am, I was up in the computer room checking on email before heading off to bed. I heard the door to the front part of the upstairs open. My sister half-walked, half-stumbled down the hallways and into the computer room, wrinkled and squinty in a white pantsuit pajama set. "Did you just knock on my door?" She asked, rubbing her eyes, her voice a little scratchy from sleep. "No, what do you mean?" I answered. "I heard a knocking, on our bedroom door. I thought it was you." "I didn't hear anything" I replied, furrowing my brow. "That's totally weird. Are you sure it was the door? I used to hear sounds behind this wall," I touched the wall next to me; the wall that stood between her bedroom and the computer room. "When Mrs A___ used to live in your apartment, I always heard creaking. I might have had my feet propped up on the wall while I was typing or something..." She shrugged, "No, it was a bunch of little knocks, it definitely didn't come from the wall. They were on the door." She shrugged again. "Well, I'm going back to bed." "Okay, I'll listen for knocking or something, let me know if you hear anything else..." Shortly afterwards I went to bed.

Within the next hour, my sister woke up with Taff screaming. He had become violently ill in the night. He had a very high fever and was very sick. It was only a stomach bug that happens to all kids, but my sister and I were baffled by that definite knocking on her door. It wasn't Taff, so what was it? Another incident occurred a few weeks later. My sister and her husband were going out in the morning. They wanted my mother to watch Taff for a few hours. My sister, her husband, Taff, and I were all hanging out in the kitchen talking. My sister's husband looked at his watch and said "Wow I hope your mom wakes up soon, we have to get going." Within about ten minutes my mother came rushing into the kitchen fully dressed, saying "Okay, Okay I'm ready ya'll can go." Woody, my sister's husband, said "Wow that was quick, I was going to send Kathi in to get you." My mother looked at him with her head tilted to one side, confusion on her face, "But I thought you already came in to get me." We all just kind of stared at her. She continued: "I was in the bathroom getting ready, and I heard what I thought was Woody's voice right outside the room, calling 'Marcia! Marcia...' (that's my mother's name) I thought that you wanted me to hurry up and watch Taff." Kathi said, "Well We do want you to watch Taff." "But we've all been just sitting in this room," stated Woody.

From that point on, we all decided that there was a ghost in our house. A ghost that was Taff's friend, and was always looking out for him. On probably what was the last day we ever heard of Bobby, my sister and Taff were in the front room, and Taff started giggling and saying "Bobby!! Bobby!!" My sister felt a little chill and asked Taff, "Hey, where is Bobby?" Taff looked at her with a big grin on her face, "He's hiding!"

It's not the creepiest ghost story, but definitely the closest ghost to me that I'm aware of.

Since Taff has gotten older, he's 6 now, he doesn't ever talk about Bobby. Perhaps his age and interests have changed, and he's no longer able to see him. My sister just had another child, baby Lois. So we will have to see if she finds a friend in Bobby.

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