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The Head

January 2007

Looking back after 34 years, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that the house I grew up in on Main Street of Pine Island, Minnesota, was not haunted. Any creepy feelings or strange bump- in-the-night memories can now easily be explained away by casting the blanket of "overactive child's imagination" over the incident. Except, of course, for one particular incident.

When I was three years old I still shared a room with my older brother, who was five. I don't remember the month, the day of the week or even what season it was when this event occurred, but I do distinctly remember waking up in my bed lying flat on my back looking up at the ceiling.
There was a slanted rectangle of light created by the moon shining through the window. I remember wondering what had woken me when in the space of a breath a desperate feeling of sick dread filled my entire body. I turned my head to the left and there at the side of my bed was a small, thin human head approximately six inches away from my face with its chin resting on the side of my mattress. I have always known exactly what a rabbit feels when it quits breathing and becomes still as a stone when confronted with danger because that is precisely what I did. I felt my skin grow cold and for the first - and up to now the last - time in my life experienced pure terror. My bladder released itself but I didn't move a muscle, didn't blink, didn't even want to breathe. I remember the head had very pale, pasty skin with lips that were pulled up away from the very human looking teeth as if they were dried out. The hair was black, coarse, and lank but I remember individual hairs sticking up on the top like a person who hasn't combed their hair in a long time.
I could see the moonlight glinting off the whites of the left eye but the right eye was in shadow. The irises were just dark.

After a time, which must have been only seconds, I was able to gather up enough courage to close my eyes. At this point I remember saying silently to myself over and over again "please go please go please go please go..." There was a barely perceptible whisper of movement on the mattress and with it the cold fear disappeared. I opened my eyes, and it was gone. I remember moving to the far side of the bed and telling myself to stay awake until dawn, but I cannot say for sure whether or not I made it.

Many years later while telling ghost stories with some friends in my freshman year of college, a boy related the tale of seeing a thin, grey-skinned arm covered with black, wiry hair come up to the side of his crib and wave back and forth at him. I told my story of the head and for some reason we both became convinced it was the same creature.

Who knows?

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