The Boy Who Lived With Ghosts

FrontCover 2Chapter 1

I live in a haunted family, in a haunted house, on a haunted street. One day I will live in a place where there are no ghosts but right now they’re everywhere. Some people don’t believe in ghosts but that’s alright. Those people have orange nightlights glowing in their bedrooms after dark, reflecting little moons and stars on the ceiling, and cups of hot chocolate to make them sleepy before their blankets are tucked in cozily around them by their mums. I don’t think my mum believes in ghosts. If she did, she would not turn out all the lights when she puts me to bed at night.

I am almost five years old and I was born in our front bedroom with my twin sister Emily. It was on the Twelfth Night. That’s the night when the Three Wise Men visited the baby Jesus with their gifts. It was also my sister Margueretta’s fourth birthday. So we are three gifts for the baby Jesus. If I am a gift, I would like to be a lamb. Animals don’t go to Heaven but I am sure there is a lamb up there. I think there is also a donkey.

Margueretta hates me because I was born on her birthday and now she has to share it with me and Emily, so she locks me in the cellar in the dark. And there’s something scary down there in the corner that goes drip, drip, drip. If I die down there I will go to sit at God’s feet because Dad says God suffers all the little children to come unto him. And Jesus loves dead children the most because they will never grow up to become sinners.

God wears brown sandals and no socks but Jesus doesn’t wear anything on his feet and he washes God’s feet for him because there is a lot of sand in Heaven and it gets between God’s toes. Dad says Heaven is a warm place and you are never hungry in Heaven because you can have as much bread and jam as you want to eat. So you shouldn’t cry if a little boy dies, having been killed by his big sister who locks him in the cellar in the dark.

Nana says we will all go back to God one day so long as we are not sinners. Because if we are sinners, we will go to live with the Devil and we will scream and burn as we catch fire in a lake for all Eternity, which is a very long time. And Nana knows what a long time means because she is very old, which is also why she has hair that comes down to her knees. She ties it in braids on top of her head but I mustn’t see my Nana’s hair when it is down or that will mean I have been in her bedroom and a little boy should never go into his Nana’s bedroom or she will hit him on the back of his head with her hairbrush.

A True Story of Childhood Haunting – Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle

I’m Living with a Fool

Droopy DogThere is a fool inside my head, but I have repeatedly denied knowing him. He knows everything about me—my hopes and dreams and my deepest fears and anxieties. But he never listens to me.

We grew up together, me and the fool inside my head. We were there in the blackness of the cellar, where my sister locked me as a small boy. We were both there when my dad said he was just going out for a drink and never came back. And we were together when we were cold and hungry in the dark of the night.

The fool inside my head judges people and holds onto regrets. He harbors thoughts of revenge and retribution. He lives in the past.

He is a fool and I’m not.

I am looking for the positive things I have learned from all the bad things that have happened to me. I am forgiving everyone and I’m moving on. I am building a terrific future that is based on what I have learned and how I can be a better person.

From abandonment, I found the loyalty of friends and the commitment to my family. From the hunger of poverty I found a burning ambition to succeed. From insanity, I found the comfort and joy of living in the perfect moment.

That’s why I deny knowing the fool inside my head.

Maybe there’s a fool inside your head, sapping your energy with negative thoughts, destroying your hopes and dreams with the belief that they will only end in failure.

There is no weakness in forgiving. There is no gain in retribution. There is no future when you live in the past.

Not all of the people from my past will be with me in the future. The one I am sure I am going to leave behind is the fool inside my head.

We may learn from the past but the greatest future is made in the positive beliefs of the present.

Who Stole My Life?

Movie TheatreOur ability to focus on what is truly important in life is sadly at its greatest when we are dying. For so much of our lives we worry about things that we cannot change or we bury ourselves in details, never seeing the bigger picture. Most of us have no idea how much time we have left, but still we find meaningless ways to “pass the time.”

Since I started telling people I was writing a book, the most common response has been, “There is a book inside me too.”

That’s true. There is a book inside every one of us. It is the book we write everyday. It has a beginning, a middle and it has an end. And you do not know the ending; you do not know what twists and turns the plot may take; you do not know what characters may enter or leave the storyline.

At first, I wrote my book to help me find dressings for the open wounds that were my “childhood.” I wanted people to feel sorry for the little boy who suffered all of that abuse and horror in the midst of addiction and insanity. I wanted people to be amazed at how I survived, how I made something of myself. I wanted people to laugh with me at the hilarious characters who were my relatives.

And as those words found their way onto the page, I realized something: every emotional detail of my childhood was still alive. The fears and abuse were still living inside my head. The ghosts of my childhood were still haunting me.

But I realized something even more profound: twenty years of my adult life were missing. I had been sleepwalking through my adult years by numbing myself from those childhood horrors. The story of my life had a beginning but it had no middle. I had surrendered my life to the banality of a meaningless job, the drudgery of monthly bills and the anesthetizing effect of the daily cocktail hour.

Someone had stolen my life. And I was the thief.

That’s when my life took on a new meaning. I could not waste another minute. For the first time, I wanted to do something that actually mattered, something I loved doing and something that made a positive difference to other people’s lives.

No one can give me back those missing years. But I am never going to waste another minute of my time. So now, I can’t sleep because I am too excited about being here in this life, doing something that I love and making a difference. And if you can’t sleep, you can’t sleepwalk through life.

There is a book inside every one of us. It is being written every day. Don’t leave any pages blank.

Make it memorable until the end.

Runaway

RunawayI knew someone was watching me. I always knew.

It was dark, except for the light of the fire I had made with bits of wood broken off the old fence that was already falling down. That fire made violent shadows like ancient slaves waving on the outside wall of the house, wanting to be free.

I had to escape from the house and that girl who screamed in the attic. I had to escape from my sister who beat me every day and told me tales of the thing that was inside her head and soon would be inside my own, always telling her to kill herself or to kill us all. I had to escape from the man who hanged himself in the toilet, eyes bulging out like my big green marbles.

That’s why I was sleeping in the old coalbunker at the back of the house. It was safe in there, even if there was someone watching me. I glanced over at our neighbor’s house and just for a moment I saw that long white nightshirt, floating slowly towards the dividing fence. That’s what happens when you stare too long at the flames, in the blackness of the night. You see things that are not there.

And it made the woman in the white nightshirt, who was not there, look like she had a yellow face and long grey hair.  If she was there, she wouldn’t be able to see me because I was inside the old coalbunker, looking out.  It looked like she was watching the sparks from the campfire as they floated up into the dark night sky. If she was there.

Then she floated towards me, howling like a dog as she came up to the low fence and moved right over it. She reached out her arms, the way that people do when they pretend to be a ghost. And her long yellow fingers twitched like she was trying to hold onto something.

I ran, of course. Mum said I had an overactive imagination. That’s what mothers always say to small boys who have seen something that was not there. It was the following day that Joan from next door came to tell us that her mother had died. It was to be expected. She had been dying for a long time. But now she was finally dead in the back bedroom, arms folded across her chest and pennies on her eyelids. She died that previous afternoon, Joan by her side saying the Lord’s Prayer, for it was the only prayer she knew.

If I were to run away again, I would need a different plan. The coalbunker was now no different from the attic or the toilet. And I knew that sooner or later something bad would happen if I stayed, something really terrible.

And I learned right there that I could run away but it didn’t mean I could escape. Some of our ghosts stay with us forever.

The Boy Who Lived With Ghosts

The Boy Who Lived with Ghosts:  A True Story of Childhood Haunting87487370

The Boy Who Lived with Ghosts will be released in paperback on July 1st 2013 and a short while later in e-book format.

This is a funny but tragic tale of poverty, abuse, addiction, insanity and death.  It is the true story of a small boy haunted by many ghosts, told uniquely through his eyes.  The boy is relentlessly resourceful, living in a decaying house with a grandfather who thinks he is a train, an alcoholic father who has gone to see a man about a dog and a diminutive Scottish grandmother who has a deceptively powerful right punch.  He suffers physical abuse and the horror of being locked in the cellar by his sister while he continually tries to come to terms with the ghost of a man who hanged himself in the toilet.

His mother slowly slips into her own world of delusion and depression and the boy knows that he must find the cause of his mother’s madness before it is too late.  But the sound of a screaming girl in the attic convinces him that his house is haunted and confirms his belief that the spirit of the man who hanged himself in the toilet is intent on killing the family.

The boy grows through the story into an adolescent who is ready to take on the world and survive.  The ghosts, however, will be with him forever.

This is my story. I hope you will find time to read it, to share it and to be helped by the belief that we can all find humor and survival, even in the face of tragedy.

Till then,

John Mitchell

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