The two lane road winds along a small river dotted with picnic benches, dense brush that often shades the road, steep cliffs that reach high above, and old railroad trellises crisscrossing the canopy. A lovely drive for a small girl and a big imagination.
Growing up an only child, I eavesdropped on the adults probably more often than I should have. I do not remember the first time I heard of her. A lost girl trying to get home. A lost soul reaching out for something she cannot find.
As a child, when we’d pull off the freeway and turn into the Canyon, a familiar feeling would overtake me, terror that the Ghost of Niles Canyon would appear in the back seat next to me looking for a ride home.
I’d squeeze my eyes shut and keep them closed the entire trip back, an eternity of wanting to open my eyes and see her, yet being afraid of what I might see if I opened them. Eventually the curiosity of what might happen would win out, and I had to peek. My heart would race. I’d take a deep breath, hold it and open one eye.
Nothing would be there. Relieved and disappointed at the same time, my eyes would slam shut again and I’d wait till the point I knew we were out of the canyon, the single stop light at the end. Once my father slowed to a stop, I knew I was safe again. I could open my eyes and breathe a sigh of relief.
I never saw her. Not once, on all the thousands of trips to Grandma’s house. But I didn't have to, did I? I carried her with me each trip. This Ghost haunted my childhood without any effort on her part all. That’s the true power of a ghost story. Not the actual seeing of a spirit, but the fear of what might be seen.
Tell me a spooky event from your childhood in the comments below, and at the end of the week, a random winner will be chosen to receive a spooktacular set of zombie shot glasses. (CONTEST CLOSED)