I should start by saying I don’t believe in ghosts. Never have. Actually, belief is the wrong word, for it has no role in scientific argument. Belief and facts are two separate issues. (The classic example is a simple mathematical equation: 2+2 = 4. I can believe 2+2 =5 all I want, but the fact it equals 4 remains.)
The concept of an incorporeal being who is also able to both interact with the physical world — such as tapping me on the shoulder — then ignore it by walking through a wall, defines all scientific laws. The only answer I can postulate is a being or a spirit or whichever term you care must be endowed with an innate knowledge of quantum physics as yet unknown to us (just as vampires seem to rise from the dead with a great knowledge of king fu).
Plus I’ve been to too many funerals where the recently deceased has been sighted hovering amongst the branches of a nearby gum tree, or returned as a bird or even a ray of sunshine (even when their personality was most definitely neither).
When we bought our house it came with a sense of age and history, for it had lasted over 100 years. This is not common in Australia. Remarkably, the building gave no sense of the recent owners. They had lived there for a decade or so, yet no hint of them remained behind in the house. All old places have character, and this house was no different. The personality belonged, however, not to the people we had bought from, but instead to the people who had lived here a while ago. I felt as if I had walked into my great-great-grandparents’ house.
In the years we have lived here, every now and then I’d hear someone walking around. So did my husband. Just quiet footsteps in the house, or someone pattering outside, sometimes calling a soft word or two to the chickens. They were always contented noises with no sense of foreboding. The kids never heard a thing, and my dogs were never worried. Old houses creak, and can pick up vibrations from quite a distance away. Sound travels quite a distance in our valley, and echoes can be heard in the strangest of places.
One of my English cousins once lived in a town dating back to Roman times (making my claim to living in an old house quaint.) Roman legions had been stationed there, and most everyone had seen a soldier or two — except for one lady, who claimed to have the entire legion marching through her house a couple of times a week.
Since our rebuild, I haven’t heard our ghost. We have over an acre, yet I can hear the footsteps of the kids running though their house next door. More precisely, I feel the footsteps, especially as I sit upstairs on my morning verandah, the vibrations carrying from their place to our own. At the moment everyone must be asleep, for as I sit here all I can hear are the whip-birds calling to one another, and the creak of the house around me as it warms up in the winter sun.
A few nights ago, just as I drifted off to sleep, there came this tap tap tap on the roof. Our roof is corrugated iron, and the sound of the rain dancing across it is delightful, especially when I’m lying in bed with no intention of getting up any time soon. This, however, wasn’t rain. Perhaps I had been asleep and dreamt the noise, for once I started listening, all was quiet.
Then, once more: tap tap tap. “Is that you, mother?” Silence. “Is God a woman?” Tap tap tap.
Reassured, I fell asleep.
Last night, the same thing happened. Tap tap tap. Silence for a moment. Tap tap tap. Then came the sound of a skull being crushed as an owl ripped the head off some poor rodent. I heard the stomp of his footsteps right above me — obviously a big owl, possibly the size of Gwaihir in Lord of the Rings — then came the flap of strong wings as he took off into the night.