I got my first ever job at sixteen and a half, doing custodial work at an old church in the suburbs near my house, and in the seven years I worked there I heard rumor of at least seven distinct supernatural entities roaming the campus. I am a man of many ghosts.
Now, you have to understand, I don’t actually believe in ghosts. They are, of course, a figment of overactive imagination. Fear and paranoid compulsion dancing across your mind, priming more and more recognition of some nonexistent foreign power. Patterns of emotion that imprint themselves onto physical places.
Yet somehow, knowing that doesn’t stop you from feeling their presence.
The first ghost I ever saw was the boy on the Sitting Rock. He was there every night, on the tall granite stone in the church parking lot. He watched over the patch of grass that I grew up having picnics on—the lawn where I learned to play tag. Of course, I couldn’t see him sitting there. Above the rock was a patch of empty air, completely normal, devoid of any of the typical glowing orbs or pale figures. There was only one detail that never quite lined up at that part of the church: the shadow cast by the rock in the center of the lot was always just too long, lumpy, and hunched for its shape. The first time I noticed it, I stared for minutes, waiting for the pool of darkness to flinch; waiting to see him move. I was never comfortable when I had to walk through that dark parking lot. I always had the nagging feeling that there was someone just over my shoulder, watching me from the wide open blacktop lit by the single white floodlight. Whenever I looked the only thing I could see was that shadow, but every time it made me jump. There was nothing threatening about it, but it always felt eerily human. It was a shape that my mind was trained to recognize, another person, sitting alone in the dark.
This was the most docile ghost I saw during my long nights at the church, but it was also the most consistent. The others came and went, fleeting, but this one stayed all seven years. I like to think we became friends, passing by each other each night, both in our own thoughts. I certainly never felt animosity from him. Just curiosity. Seven years of staring silence.
I never dared to sit on that rock. Not even during the day.