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Mar. 26, 2019 | Tuesday
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Writer's Circle: Chapter One from the novel, Caught Between the Walls by Sharon Frayne
Sharon Frayne. (Supplied)

SUBMITTED BY SHARON FRAYNE.
WRITER'S CIRCLE

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

January 2015.

Did I see a ghost that winter night in the park? I’m still not sure, but I’ve spent a long time trying to find out what really happened. I live in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which some say is the most haunted town in Canada. There are many ghost tales in my town, and there are some tales that have yet to be told. I live on the edge of Rye Historic Park, and just maybe…

Most nights, as the dark settles on the streets of NOTL, professional ghost guides roam about with mysterious tales of the past. Their long black cloaks billow around them as cool breezes lift the dust off the sidewalks and streets. The tourists follow the lantern the guide holds high, shuffling along from building to building, a little bit intimidated and a little bit amused.

Usually, the tourists pause before the handsome 1847 grey stone Courthouse on Queen Street and whisper about spirits that haunt the building.

“Don’t go in at night!” they’re warned. Inside, there’s a tiny jail cell with creepy looking stuffed figures. A few streets over, The Niagara Historical Museum has many well-researched books that document the historical background of many of these ghost tales.

One wintry afternoon in January, I was positive I’d seen the apparition of another Courthouse building offering me safe haven during a storm. Later, that same evening, I’d returned and felt the call of incorporeal beings wanting to share their stories. Is there another ghost story yet to be told?

“Is that real, or am I seeing things?” The icy wind tore the words out of my mouth. Floundering along in a raging January blizzard, I struggled toward the gloomy outline of a two-story building. It appeared in the distance, a soft grey fleeting shadow that vanished behind the veil of blowing sleet.

I slogged through the knee-deep snow, attempting to cross the wind-blown field. On that day, the park was basically inaccessible. Winter had blustered in late, but finally it was bitterly cold and the snow was piled high.

“What was I thinking?” I gasped, creating hot steamy clouds that hung in the bitter air. “This is just a stupid idea. Walking through here is almost impossible. Why didn’t I stick to the road instead of taking the shortcut across the park?”

I left Rye Street behind me as I tried to hike across the Rye Heritage Park. Overnight, there’d been a tremendous snowstorm that had closed schools and halted traffic.

Everything and everyone was stuck in place. At noon, I’d decided to walk from my new house on the far side of the park to get some fresh air and shake off the feeling of being imprisoned by the storm.

“Winters in Niagara-on-the Lake are usually mild,” the real estate agent had told me and “snow, when it comes, only lasts a few days.”

The next-door neighbour had boasted, “I haven’t shoveled my driveway for several winters in a row.” Yet, here I was, staggering through knee-deep snow in -20 C temperatures. It was a blizzard that was reminiscent of times long past.

I stopped to catch my breath and gather my energy to cross the field. Below the deep winter cover, the ground was slippery with ice. “Whoa!” I yelped as I scrambled for balance. I grabbed at a sign pole that emerged above the snow bank. As I clutched the post, I stared up at the historic plaque that appeared in front of me.

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