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Lost Ghost Child

When my husband was stationed in the Army in the early 1980s, he and I moved into an old farmhouse in a tiny village just outside Ansbach, Germany with our 2 year old daughter, Amelia. Beyond the excitement of being in a new country, it also brought me a ghostly experience I will never forget.

The town boasted all of eight homes, most with attached barns full of cows and pigs. It was a quaint town with houses built before and slightly after WWII. By dawn every morning, large steel milk containers were set out by the side of the road for the milk truck, right next to the still-warm pile of cow manure that was waiting to be thrown across the fields that backed our homes.

Our home was an old two story farmhouse, with creaking wooden floors, and lathe-and-plaster walls that were cracked with age. It was large and comfortable even in the middle of a frosty winter night. Three generations of a German family had lived there, until the oldest grandson decided he’d had enough of farm life, and moved his family to the city.

By European standards, the master bedroom was large, having once been used as a gathering place for small community meetings and Bible study. It had an attached ante-room that we used as a walk-in closet, but that little room was creepy and left me with an uncomfortable feeling whenever I went into it. It was dark and musty, and I always had a feeling that something was hiding behind the hanging clothes. The dim bulb that hung from a string in the center of the room didn’t help matters, particularly when it swung back and forth and created gyrating shadows up and down and back and forth on the gabled walls.

One afternoon, about a month after we moved in, I put my daughter down to nap in her little bedroom just down the hall from ours. Then I went downstairs and worked on unpacking some of our knickknacks and pictures that really turn a house into a home. My husband was away on a two-week military maneuver somewhere in the German countryside. As I was bent down, retrieving something at the bottom of a large box, I felt the tug of a tiny hand on the back of my pants leg.

Thinking Amelia had gotten out of bed, I said, “You better get back to your room.” I didn’t hear any movement, so I stood up and turned around. No one was there. I walked over and peeked into the kitchen, but it too was empty. I could not easily dismiss this as my imagination. The feeling of being touched by someone who was not there had been so real.

Later that evening, I had to stoke the boiler with enough wood to heat the water for a bath for Amelia and to keep the house warm during the night. The bedrooms and living areas were heated by hot water that ran through exposed pipes and radiators. I did this chore morning and evenings, and on really cold winter days, every few hours as well. You could hear the radiators loudly turn on and off throughout the night, and I had yet to get used to the sound. I could hear Amelia in her playroom talking to her stuffed animals. The conversation was so animated, I tip-toed from my task to listen at the door.

“…’pasgetti? Want some? ‘pasgetti?” she asked. “no? no? want some ashelshosh?” She had that funny little lisp some kids have when they are beginning to talk, and I smiled and covered my mouth to keep from laughing aloud at her word for applesauce. I heard her set down her plastic toy plates as she offered different food. “…want brot?” she asked, using the German word for bread. “no?…want cookie?”

I started at the sound of a soft answering voice. Who was with her? I was sure we were alone. Did a neighborhood child come in while I was distracted? I walked to the playroom, but there was no one else there.

“Amelia, who were you talking to?”

“Dunno.”

“Were you talking to your animals?” I asked, pointing to a plastic table surrounded by a stuffed menagerie.

“No, momma,” she fed a pretend cookie to a giraffe sitting at the table. “lil’ girl.”

“You were talking to a little girl?” Amelia nodded, then pulled out her ‘Lamby’ from his seat at the table and danced around with him. I glanced around, but no one else was in the room but us. Her attention was fully on her toy now, and though we chatted a bit more, I couldn’t find out anything else about the imaginary friend. Combined with the morning’s tug on my pant leg, I was feeling rather spooked.

A few nights later, I lay awake thinking about the things I had to do the following day. It’s always difficult for me to fall asleep when my husband isn’t around. I heard the radiator ping and clunk as it turned off in the bedroom, and I glanced at the moon just peeking out from under the top of the window frame. I turned toward the doorway when I heard a soft pad of feet come up next to the bed.

I expected to see Amelia, clad in her yellow feetie pajamas with little pink hearts. Instead, a little girl of about six stood by the side of my bed, near enough that I could have reached out to touch her. She was a white specter, shimmering in the semi-darkness. She wore a nightgown that was just long enough to brush the top of her feet and tightly clutched a doll against her chest. She had a sweet face, but I still can’t forget the look that was on it.

Her little lips were curled up in a mixture of surprise and annoyance, obviously expecting someone other than me to be lying in this bed. She frowned suddenly, and then exhaled with a baby-sized huff. She glanced back behind her, and then turned to look at me again. Her annoyance had turned to sadness, and when her bottom lip trembled, I wanted to reach out and comfort her.

The radiator clunked on, startling me, and I glanced at it. I was distracted for only a half a second, but when I turned back, she was gone. I quickly jumped out of bed and ran to Amelia’s room. She lay there on her tummy, her face peaceful and serene, and her breath soft and even. I stayed next to her for a few minutes to reassure myself that Amelia was safe.

Trembling, I walked back to my room, turned on the closet light and glanced around. As I expected, it was empty. I was too frightened to go to sleep, and I grabbed the huge hunting knife I keep under my pillow for protection when my husband is away. With shaking legs, I roamed the house, flicking on lights and checking out rooms. It was telling that I didn’t turn them off again, though I closed each room’s door after I glanced around.

This was the first of probably a dozen visits from the specter that I came to think of as the ‘little lost girl’. Some of her visits were longer than others, though none ever lasted more than perhaps two or three minutes, and she never appeared as strongly as she did that first night. She always seemed to be looking for someone, and was always disappointed. Once she came back to the bedroom at night when my husband was home, but by the time I roused him she was gone again. I asked the neighbors about her, if a child had died young in the home. But none of them could remember if that had ever happened.

I like to think that she must have been visiting her home, coming back after being long gone. I believe that when she appeared, she was hoping to see to her mommy or daddy or perhaps her grandmamma to come and comfort her. She never bothered any of us with negative activity, just surprised and, admittedly, frightened me when she appeared. I tried to communicate with her, sometimes talking to an empty room where I felt a presence. I wanted her to feel safe and to know we didn’t wish her any harm. I never did get any reply. One in a great while, though, I would hear Amelia talking to the little lost girl. Amelia never seemed frightened and took the girl’s appearance in stride.

We left that farmhouse two years later when my husband was transferred back to the States. But I often think of the house, and the fun memories we had as a family there, as well as the extraordinary ghostly experience of the little lost girl.

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