I do not believe in ghosts. Well, not really. Well, sort of.
I didn't believe in ghosts at all until a ghost happened to me. This is the story of that ghost, and the incredible supernatural power of vegan food. So turn off your lights, put on some spooky music, and settle in for tonight's edition of Vegan MoFo's Spooky Stories.
In the fall of my sophomore year of college, my roommate (Stephanie) and I moved into a brand new townhouse downtown, which was inexplicably within our price range. We couldn't believe our luck, as our last apartment had been about a third of the size and very old. The floorboards creaked, the walls groaned as they settled, and shortly before moving out we were told that the place was originally a halfway house for the abandoned insane asylum down the street. As much as we loved the charm of our first apartment, we were thrilled to be rid of its spookiness, and welcomed the extra space of our new townhouse.
I was especially excited about being able to have a desk in my room. My mom and dad drove down to help us move, and brought with them an old library desk. My mom found the desk in a junk store, and estimated it to be about 80 years old. It was dark and heavy and had an inkwell. It was the last piece of furniture to be moved in, and we lugged it upstairs and then went downtown to celebrate.
Things didn't get weird until we had lived there about a month. One morning I woke up, went into my bathroom, and saw that my soap was missing. I am absentminded and tend to misplace things so I didn't think much of it when I found it on my desk later that morning. But later that week, the soap moved again. This time, I distinctly remembered that I had washed my hands before bed, and then closed my bathroom door so that my dog wouldn't shred the toilet paper or raid the trash can.
I mentioned this to Stephanie, and her eyes got wide. She said that strange things had been happening to her as well. Several times, when she was home alone in the evening, she would hear me come home. She could hear my keys jingling, the door opening, and my backpack dropping to the floor. The dogs would go nuts and run downstairs, and then return to her bedroom, all nervous with bristled fur. When she'd call hello, there would be no answer. When she went downstairs, there would be no signs that I had come home.
After she told me that, the soap started moving on a nightly basis. And then other things would move; makeup, keys, even shoes. And it always moved to the desk.
The idea of a ghost seemed ridiculous to us, but we couldn't explain what was happening. We decided to experiment one evening, to be sure that it wasn't a friend, or even one of us, pulling a prank. I shut and locked my bathroom door, and put a small piece of clear tape over the door and doorjam. We shut, locked, and taped the door of the apartment as well, and left for the grocery store. It is important to mention here that no one else but our landlord, who lived over an hour away, had a key to our apartment. When we returned a half an hour later, we found the tape undisturbed and the doors locked. And everything that was on my bathroom counter was now on my desk.
At this point, we were uneasy. Even scared. But I was still skeptical, and expected a reasonable explanation to turn up. A week or so passed and nothing happened, and I was deep into midterms and nearly forgot about the strangeness in our apartment.
And then one night, very early in the morning, I woke to the sound of an axe chopping wood. I sat straight up in bed, eyes wide open and instantly awake, and stared at my desk, which was directly in front of my bed. The desk was fine and everything was in order. And then I heard the chopping again, but much louder this time. It sounded like someone was chopping firewood in my bedroom, right in from of my bed. It was clear and close and incredibly loud. I ran to the window, hoping to see a lumberjack on the front stoop at four in the morning. The street was empty, and the sound was now behind me, where my desk was, and growing louder. The room went instantly cold, and the chopping got faster and more intense, and I got the distinct impression that my desk was being hacked to pieces.
I ran to Stephanie's room and jumped into bed with her, shrieking. The next morning, I found my desk exactly as I had left it. Nothing on it had moved and inch, and it was certainly not in pieces all over the floor. I freaked. We both freaked.
I called my friend Elizabeth, who knows about ghosts and witches and all manner of spooky things. I usually thought her hobbies (tarot cards, seances, books on witchcraft) were silly, but I was desperate and scared and needed some help. Elizabeth, totally, unruffled, told us what to do. And we did it.
She supposed that it was the desk that was haunted, and recommended that we concentrate our ghost-eviction activities there. First, she said, we had to introduce ourselves to the ghost, and tell it that it was scaring us, and that we'd like very much for it to leave. So we did. (The vegan part of this story is next. Pay close attention.) Second, she said, we should cleanse the space by burning sage. So we did. And the third, and most important step, was to make a peace offering. She said beer and bread was the most traditional offering, and thought to be the most effective. So we left a poppy seed bagel and a Miller High Life on the desk, and left the ghost to ponder its behavior. When we returned, the bagel was gone and the beer was empty. And after that, the spookiness stopped.
I think the moral of the story is that vegan food can fix nearly everything. And that is the spirit of Vegan MoFo.
Epilogue: When we moved the following fall, I took the desk back to my parents' house. It is there now, in the library of their hundred year old home. I, Stephanie, and her now husband Patrick recently visited my parents, and Patrick took pictures of the house. Check out his picture of the library:
It could be a wonky flash or a trick of the light. Or it could be something else. If it is, I would bet that it's nothing a little tofu couldn't fix.