7.19.2005

The Day the Ghost Tried to Kill Me

This is a true story.

When I was 23, I took a trip to Nashville with my family. It was the first time we'd ever gone that a trip to Opryland was not scheduled. Why? Because where an amusement park used to be, there is now an outlet mall.

But that is not the scariest part of this story.

The Flowers family is very into historical sites (translation: we are geeks), and since we'd never really spent much time in Nashville (other than at Opryland; THANKS, GAYLORD), we decided to take a trip up to the old Belle Meade Plantation.

So look, we have gone to historic houses EVERYWHERE. We have been at battlefields, in forts, on ships, and in cemeteries that should have been far scarier than this big Southern house which we were visiting in the day time. It was early April, a beautiful spring day with temperatures in the lower 70s.

The tour of the home began in the foyer of the plantation home. We were being guided by an old lady dressed in antebellum costume, which meant that no one could get within five feet of her without her hoops flying up in the air. Belle Meade was once famous for its racehorses, and we were getting a whole education on silks and pineapples , all of which are on display in the front hallway.

We moved into the dining room-slash-parlor, and this is where the scary music would crescendo, if this were a movie. I was walking into danger, and I didn't even know it (which would be a great song lyric, especially if Danger were, like, a town. I'm making a note of that).

Our tour guide was talking about something about meals, which I don't remember, because it was about this time that the ghost started attacking.

And look, I know that I sound stupid when I tell this tale, but for the record, YOU WEREN'T THERE, and I was, and this is how I choose to explain it, and I am the boss of this story.

Anyway.

The tour guide was explaining the uses of the different piece on the table, and I began to hear a ringing in my ears. I did not think anything of it for about ONE SECOND, because then I went deaf. Totally. I could not hear one blessed thing and I knew I should hear something; the lady's mouth was still moving and just a minute ago I could hear the birds and bugs chirping outside.

I could not concentrate on the deafness thing for long, because I started to go blind at that point. At first I didn't have any peripheral vision, and then I saw white clouds where my peripheral vision should have been. It's kind of like when you are doing fancy effects on your pictures, and you make a rectangular picture into an oval, and then you put the smoke effect around that. It's hard to explain.

This is about the time when my head gained weight. I just COULD NOT hold that sucker up! In spite of that, I still had the presence of mind to get myself away from any fragile, irreplaceable antiques, and I leaned against a column that divided the dining room from the parlor.

This is when I began to freak out. Quietly, so as not to disrupt the tour. That is how we do it in the South.

For those who are interested, I have never fainted, or even felt faint, in my whole life. I am the picture of health, for real, and I had no idea what was going on. I thought I was going to die, right there.

Through the haze, I saw that the tour group was moving on, and I moved with them. But I moved soooooooo slowly, like the way you walk in a pool when you are in the 5' section and you yourself are 5'6". I stayed close to the walls, so I could support my big fat head (shut UP!), and managed to make it into the hall. My hearing started to come back, but it was muffled, like when you are holding your ears and humming so you can't hear your parents talk about their sex life.

All of a sudden, everyone turned to look at me. Even the tour guide stopped and put on her normal accent to ask me if I was feeling all right. I couldn't speak, or even nod or shake my head, and my mom and dad both stepped closer to me because apparently I began to fall.

I don't really remember the next few minutes.

I remember sitting behind a velvet rope on a two hundred year old chair, and my mom telling me that my lips were the same color as my face.

I remember how my head felt against my knees, and how my arms didn't do anything I wanted them to.

I remember feeling like I was not alone in my body and like someone else was trying to run things.

I remember my mom rubbing my back and saying, "It's okay, baby," and my dad pacing and getting mad, like he always does when my sister and I get hurt.

Gradually that weird feeling began to subside, and I was able to breathe normally. I could see! I could hear! I could tap my fingers against the floor (because I was still slumped over).

Well, we missed half the tour, but I did get to hear the part about how President Taft was so fat he got stuck in the bathtub so they made a special shower for him. That was the best part, as far as I'm concerned.

After the official tour was over, my mom and dad and I went out to the small cabin on the grounds of the plantation. This is where the family lived when they were building the mansion. It was small, with a bedroom and (I think) a kitchen. I remember the bedroom, though; there was a bed there, with a corn husk mattress. I was looking at it and thinking about how many bugs there are in corn husks, when the bedcovers moved. They did! I saw a shape in the mattress, as though someone was lying in the bed, and the blankets moved as though that person was breathing.

That's when I KNEW. It was a ghost.

It almost killed me that day, but I'll tell you this: I have not been back to Belle Meade Plantation. There's just no sense in walking into danger. Again.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting story however there are a few errors in your description of the home. There are no pineapples in the main hallway of the home. The parlors are on one side of the main hall and the library/dining room/plantation office are on the other. There are no columns in the home either. As far as the Taft story....that's all it is. Taft never got stuck in the tub though the bathroom was built in anticipation of his visit. Unfortunately he ended up staying at a hotel in Nashville instead of at Belle Meade. As far as your ghost tale...sounds more like a panic attack. The symptoms you describe are those of someone having a panic attack or fainting. I don't see the connection to a ghost. Good story though.

Mei said...

The tour guide was telling us, in the front hallway, how the window over the door was often used as a signal to tell travelers they could stay at the house for a night. She brought up pineapples-as-welcome signs.

The dining room, as I recall, was next to some sort of sitting room or music room; it had a big fireplace at the end of it, I remember. This room could be closed off from the dining room with moveable doors. The little bit of partition, where the rooms used to be separated by actual walls, I think, juts out just a little bit. This is what I was talking about when I said columns. That's what I leaned agains.

I didn't say Taft got stuck in the Belle Meade bathtub. Just "the bathtub." But they did build the special shower for him. I should have been clearer there.

I've had a panic attack since then, and it was nothing like what I experienced at Belle Meade. There was just a weird creepy feeling that went along with all the other stuff that made me feel like there were supernatural things involved.

 

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