Ghost Rug

If this post goes to plan, I will start out by telling you that I don’t believe in ghosts and I will finish up by telling you that ghosts actually exist… in their own way. So here begins another average year on the blog.

Me? I don’t believe in ghosts.

But we have a ghost rug in our living room.

As with many things, the ghost rug has existed in the living room for quite a few years now and nobody has paid it any mind. It is only in those Christmas times where you can find yourself sitting around with not-too-much to do, it is only then that considerations such as ghost rugs tend to spring to the fore.

“Hey, what is it with this rug?” I asked one evening and, just like that, there it was, at the forefront of my mind.

The rug itself is inauspicious enough and it’s actually two rugs but I’ll get to that shortly. It sits in front of the fireplace to prevent coals and such spilling accidentally from the fire and doing a whopping-great burn mark in the good carpet. Since we got a stove put in, it’s largely redundant because nothing is falling out of that glass-fronted puppy. Still, there it remains. A reddish fluffy, quite small rug. Then we changed it, just before the Christmas, to a much nicer patterned rug of colours that I could not begin to describe. Looking back, it was probably the arrival of the new rug that brought the haunting to such a prominent place in my Yuletide consciousness. It was a case of ‘New Rug, Same Haunting.’ I though the change of rug would stop what was happening from happening but it didn’t. If anything, it only made it worse.

It's nothing much. No need to be alarmed. The rug moves, you see, apparently all by itself. That’s the long and the short of it. No headless horsemen appear, no flowing poached-egg apparitions weave around the couch. It moves… and only a little bit.

You’re hooked though, admit it, you’re just a wee bit intrigued_ oh, okay, see you next week then, maybe.

Here’s the deal. You put on the fire then you straighten the rug so that is sits tightly up against the front edge of the granite hearth. All neat and tidy and soon-to-be-warm and cosy. You sit and watch some telly, maybe a Christmas University Challenge or a recorded episode of Taskmaster. Then, sated in a light entertainment sense, you look up to admire the small but beautifully formed fire… and the rug has moved. It is no longer carefully aligned with the hearth, as it clearly had been when you sat down. It is now unmistakably at an acute angle to the heath, to the tune of an inch or possibly more. This happens all the time, every evening. You look at the mat, you look away, and when you look back it has moved. One can only deduce that there is indeed a ghost at work here and perhaps consider getting an exorcist in.

Except, well… no, not quite.

You see, I don’t believe in ghosts (we’re only halfway through, I will by the end, I promise) and so there is a perfectly rational explanation for this rug which moves all by itself. And you, there, sitting at home, far away from the mystery rug, well you see the answer already because you are not here, beside the rug, being seduced by the romance of the notion of a rug that moves all by itself.

You can see that the rug does not have a firm grip on the carpet beneath it and, every time somebody walks over it or stands on it to tend the fire, their feet cause the rug to move ever so slightly and ever so discreetly with the cumulative effect that the rug appears to drift around all by itself.

And that’s the answer. That’s the solution. Nothing to it.

So what are we doing here, Ken? Why are you writing and, more to the point, why am I reading about you and your stupid slippy rug? Are you that hard-up for something to write about on this wet Sunday morning?

No, I’m not that hard up. I’m writing it on account of the ghosts. I don’t believe in ghosts. They aren’t real.

Except they are… sort of.

Although I don’t believe in them, I love the idea of them. I include them in my writing all the time. Ghosts and ghost stories are a wonderful vehicle for conveying regret and absence and justice and, yes, they’re handy in inducing a shiver or two as well.

And, in this one particular way, they do really exist.

For a time, the ghost rug existed. It existed in my head and it existed because I allowed it to exist because it was a fun thing to toy with for a while. The rug was moving by itself, it was a ghost that was doing it. I never believed that for a single second, obviously, but I allowed my mind to play with it as an idea and, in doing that, I made it real.

Ghosts can exist, even when we don’t believe in them. They exist in our heads and in our hearts and our memories. And the things that live in there can sometimes be as real as the nose on our face or even the moving rug on our living room floor.

Ghosts don’t roam the churchyard or hide upstairs in the spare room closet. They reside in our minds, if we let them, and sometimes they can be real as anything else that our five senses let in there. If that’s how we want them to be.

There is no such thing as ghosts, not in this world.

But, in our heads…

1 comment:

Jim Murdoch said...

We have no less than three “ghost rugs” in our kitchen, one in front of the door, one in front of the sink and one in front of the microwave. They’re actually bathmats but since we no longer own a bath they’ve been repurposed. And when they’re in situ they work well. But they never stay in their prescribed positions for very long. They drift. I fix them and they drift, and I fix them and they drift. It’s a never-ending battle. You see, Ken, I’m a big fan of the right angle. LOVE right angles me. Always shifting things around the house to make right angles. They calm me. I’m not obsessive about it. Well, maybe a little obsessive. Why can’t things know their place, eh?

I also don’t believe in ghosts. My parents didn’t either. They did believe in the supernatural, angels and demons, but not ghosts. Ghosts were demons trying to sell the idea that the soul left the body after death. That’s what they believed. I’ve never experienced anything personally, but my mother said she saw my dad not long after he’d died standing in the living room looking at her. Just the once. She was not a woman given to flights of fancy nor did she even have much of an imagination, so I believe she saw something. She didn’t miss him—glad to see the back of him if truth be told—so she wasn’t pining after him so I can’t explain what she saw as being a result of grief. She blamed demons and there was no shifting her. She wasn’t remotely shaken by the experience, took it completely in her stride.