The year was 1980 and I was 14 years old. My parents and two younger sisters were living in Saudi Arabia where my father was stationed as part of a phone system upgrade project for the Kingdom. The school for expatriates (Americans, British, Canadians and others from all over the world) only went up to grade 9 in Saudi Arabia and so for the grade 10 school year I was sent back to Canada, to live with my grandmother in a small Ontario town, not far from Ottawa.
My grandmother lived alone, my grandfather having died long before I was born. She was very religious and very involved with her church community along with her regular Sunday attendance. My family didn't practice any religion and never went to church so it took some getting used to on my part being away from my family for the first time, living in a small rural town and living in a religious household. Further complicating things I inadvertently crossed the school bully early on in the school year and found myself a pariah at the local high school where I was the new kid. To be succinct I had a hard time adjusting to this environment and as a result I stopped going to school.
This upset my grandmother deeply and she sent me to see a Dr. Who prescribed some kind of anti-depressant. I just threw the entire bottle out the window. Drugging me was not the solution. I would take my bike and go to the library or find a park on a nice fall day and read books. At night I would stay up and watch late night TV like The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
The apartment was on the second floor of a house by the railroad tracks on the north edge of town. It was old and musty and the floorboards and steps up creaked. There was only one entrance to the place and if anyone came in I would be able to see them coming up the stairs and pass by the living room where I watched TV.
One night in November I heard my grandmother sobbing from her room which was down the hall. I knew I was the cause of her distress because I had stopped going to school and she didn't know how to deal with me. Then I heard her talking. At first I thought she was talking to herself, as this was 1980 and there were no cell phones and she did not have a phone in her room. The only phone was in the hall and she wasn't in the hall.
Then a man's voice responded to her, "Don't worry Anna." he said. Chills ran up my spine and I froze in my chair. The voice was deep and clear and in the house and yet I had been in the living room all evening and no one had come into the house. I heard her sobbing some more and one more time the voice spoke, "Everything will be alright." I remained in that chair until dawn. I'll never know if that was my imagination, my grandmother speaking in a different voice to herself or perhaps, as I imagined at the time, it was the voice of my grandfather's spirit comforting my grandmother. Whatever the case I have never forgotten that moment nor the feeling of creepy dread that crawled up my spine as something from the other world seemed to pass into this one for the moment.