The Wraith

Getting up in the middle of last night, for whatever reason, I could not help noticing a Wraith — for only thus would I describe it — fleeing down my little hallway out of sight, having emerged from a shelved doorless closet. Yes, definitely a Wraith, I concluded, from its Edward Gorey style and appearance, to say nothing of the way it preserved an angle as it flit, disturbing like a reverse italic. Did not pursue it; knew it would escape. At least, they always do in the literature.

What was a Wraith doing in the High Doganate, I naturally wondered. The tenant before me died in this place, but he was quite male, the Wraith seemed female. Or rather, something between a she and an it, and nightgown’d accordingly. The feet, I noticed, were bare and hardly moving as they dashed along an invisible platform, perhaps twelve inches above the floor. Perfectly silent. The height, after mentally straightening her angle, would be four foot at most. The face was distinctly angular in profile, and the shoulders seemed uneven. The left eye was twisted, though not towards me. There I must leave my police description for she, or it, went by me fairly quickly.

I should mention, too, (your honour,) that I’ve seen something like this before, but not often, and only once in this country. Perhaps it is because not enough people have died here yet, and only one in a million leaves a Wraith. But that is just theory; we must deal with facts. Theories only make the facts disappear.

Do I believe in ghosts? Of course not. What do you take me for, a Pagan? Ditto gnomes, elves, dwarfs, fairies, hobgoblins, leprechauns, pixies, and — well, I’m not sure about witches (but we won’t go there).

Perhaps I should specify the lights were still out, and my Wraith was quite visible notwithstanding, yet did not appear self-illuminated. (I live in a city, there is ambient streetlight.) Nor was she a creature of my sleepy eyes, or rather, the sharpness with which she appeared and disappeared was noteworthy. I might also mention that for some reason, fear did not enter into the experience, though I must say my alertness was raised. And when I considered her — now under full electric lighting, with a cup of strong tea — I could not think of anything in recent experience, including my diet of the previous day, to account for such a phantasm.

It is anyway a mistake, in my judgement, to become immediately “subjective” in such things, as modern science insists in the cause of its false “objectivity.” A good old-fashioned police witness, ideally formed in the Sacrament of Penance, knows to separate what he saw from his inferences upon it. (Which does not mean he suppresses those inferences, only that he flags them as his own.)

For the real method of modern science, or more precisely scientism, is to deny whatever it can’t explain. Then affirm what it previously denied, once it thinks of a plausible explanation.

I simply saw what I saw, and can’t begin to explain it.

My paternal grandmother, from Torquay in Devonshire, and raised by Anglican nuns (she was the unwanted daughter of a Torquay prostitute, in a brothel with a French clientele, hence my proud assertion of French ancestry), often saw ghosts, and said they sometimes followed her around, as, for instance, to the New World from the Old, when the nuns sent her on her way. She was not even slightly mad; only half English. I do now suddenly remember that she told me in childhood there is a species of Wraith that inhabit such as large closets, and are loath to stray very far from them. Perhaps I had disturbed one of those.

Her husband (my grandpa) never listened to her on such matters, and neither, much, did anyone else, but I was a curious child, so she told me everything. I would not go so far as to say that any of her stories were probable; but I think she believed them herself. She claimed, too, the ability to communicate, not with all ghosts, but certainly a broad selection of them. She was also, by claim, somewhat clairvoyant, and especially so on her deathbed, by which I sat on her last night, now forty-six years ago. But all that for some other occasion, I am running late on this Idlepost today.