This hospital has a ghost. Sadly the children here, being the most open, the most psychically acute, tend to see it the most. But on the other hand, they are young, and usually recover from both their bodily ills and the spiritual scarring of seeing the deathly ghost mask hovering above them. For the most part, though it makes them cry, and tell each other stories in its wake, it passes them by, on its grim procession to the elderly, the weak, the dying.
Nurses on late night shifts sometimes speak of seeing it, a floating skull, hovering from room to room as though seeking eternal company. These revelations are whispered things, for to speak more openly would be to risk losing their jobs. But to not speak of it, conversely, would be to hold the secret alone and wonder at one’s sanity. If they must be mad, let it be a shared madness, they seem to agree. It is a way to cope with the late shift if nothing else.
My mother said she saw it in the nights that preceded her passing. It chilled me to hear of it, but she was oddly calm.
“It looks so grim,” she said. “But it is but a skull, which is what we all have here, within, under the skin. It is not so fierce when you see it like that.”
I find that comforting now that she is gone. Hospitals now represent death to me, and this one with its ghost more so than most. Still I like to think the skull is not always the same, not always the same person. How would we know, after all, with only the skull to see?
I like to think that if one day I die here, it will be my mother’s skull coming to me in those last nights, floating above my bed. Reminding me, reminding me, we are all really the same under the skin, and it is safe to travel home with her, after all.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2016