Very early on Tuesday morning, July 16, I awoke suddenly for no good reason. There was no noise, no movement, nothing at all that had disturbed my slumber. I don't know what compelled me to do so, but I immediately sat bolt upright and found myself blinking, incredulously, at the shadowy image of a young, African-American woman at the foot of my bed. In the darkness, it was hard to distinguish her features, but I sensed she was smiling at me. She appeared to have a scarf tied around her head and her clothing looked like a loose-fitting blouse and skirt that might have been worn by slave girls during the Civil War.
Disbelieving what my eyes were taking in, I shifted my gaze to the LED clock just beyond the apparition, on my dressing table. It was exactly 3:33 a.m. "I am awake, I know I am not dreaming," I said aloud. And as I spoke, the apparition began to fade very quickly. Within two seconds, all that remained was a white, misty outline of the woman -- and then that faded, too. I looked down at my two dogs sleeping soundly at my feet. Neither one had stirred, making me wonder if I had, in fact, dreamed the entire experience. Wouldn't the dogs have sensed her presence, too?
This is my third such encounter. The first took place more than a decade ago when we lived in St. Louis. I awoke in much the same manner to find a man wearing a trench coat and fedora hat watching me from the foot of the bed. I was very frightened, as I thought he was an intruder until he faded into mist.
The second experience occurred a few years later in our Cheyenne, Wyoming, home. Lying on my side, I awoke suddenly and found myself face-to-face with a blonde-haired little girl wearing a pink dress. She appeared to be about five years old and was hovering next to my nightstand. Rather than fade away, she exited the bedroom by floating through the wall. I later learned that our house had been inhabited by a doctor and his family in the 1940s. His young daughter had died while they lived there.
I'm hoping to make some sense of this most recent encounter. I plan to spend some time at my public library to see if slaves did, indeed, occupy the land upon which my current home is built. In any case, the slave girl apparition seemed happy and harmless.