The Lady in White made an appearance in here on Sunday. It was her first in several months, at least the first of which I am aware.
I’ve blogged in the past about our alleged ghosts. Most of those posts have focused on one single entity and our attempts to communicate with him. His name, we have been led to believe, is Elmer. Those who know him tell me that he is comfortable in here and is actually rather friendly (as far as ghosts go). He has made himself known to visitors of the shop (although never to me), on several occasions going so far as to lead folks directly to a specific book that was sought.
I will admit to being frankly, and openly, skeptical about Elmer. Even if I were able to get my arms around and fully embrace the concept of a ghost--or some spectral entity that continues to possess individual consciousness--I very much doubt that such an entity would bother to show people around The York Emporium.
Yes, this is a fun place with lots of neat stuff to look at. But surely he/she/it would have better things to do than be a tour guide to our shop. In all the universe; in all of creation, there must be places that are even neater and more fun than The York Emporium. As much as it pains me to say this, I know it to be true.
And if I know that, Elmer must certainly know it.
So to say that I am skeptical about Elmer, well…that puts a positive spin on “skeptical.” I’m not buying it.
The Lady in White, however, may be something different.
Sunday afternoon a young lady, aged 9 or 10, came up to me and asked if we had any books about ghosts.
“Yes we do,” I replied. “Let’s go take a look.”
As we walked back to the juvenile section she told me that she wanted something about real ghosts, and not ghost stories.
“My Daddy doesn’t believe in ghosts,” she said. “But I do. I’ve seen them.”
“Oh? Have you really?” I said.
“Yes. I just saw one in here,” she told me.
“Yes. She was looking at a book over there,” she pointed. “She was just putting the book back on the shelf when she saw me. Then she went away.”
“What did she look like?”
“She was wearing a long white dress, with long sleeves. And she had a big white floppy hat.”
There is no way that this little girl could know that her description exactly matched every other description I’ve received of the Lady in White. Those descriptions came from people who did know each other, but who have each seen the Lady in White. Over the past year, there have been 3 or 4 individual and distinct sightings.
On each occasion she is in the same general area of the shop, but she isn’t always in the same spot or near the same book shelf. Sometimes she is looking at a book, other times she is walking down the aisles.
And on each occasion, the Lady in White has “gone away” just as soon as she becomes aware that she has been seen. She has been described as shy and skittish.
There are a number of implications here, all of them just a bit disquieting. The first is that she is aware of her surroundings (she examines books on a shelf, or walks down an aisle). Presumably she can read English (otherwise why would she look at a book?). This, in turn, means she can interact with these physical surroundings when she chooses (she appears to read book titles, she moves books on a shelf). And she is aware of people (she turns her head to look at them), and she is self-aware (she “goes away” when she becomes aware that she is seen). She makes choices. She changes her behavior depending upon circumstances. There is a "now" and a "here" for her. And she knows it. This would seem to imply individual consciousness.
I can laugh and joke about Elmer and his penchant as a tour guide. But I cannot dismiss the Lady in White quite so easily.
And that is the most disquieting thing of all.