Before I Tripped Over a Stone, Fridays. #16

(Previous series post, Before I Tripped, #15)

As a whole, ‘ghost children’ freak me out. I don’t find them scary, necessarily, but they are a bit intrusive! I think ‘ghost children’ make me sad because they are children. Not that I’ve met many… at the children’s home where I worked we had a few. It was started as an orphanage during WWII so if it were to be haunted just who would do the haunting? Children.

I was working the midnight to 8AM shift. This worked perfectly because my first class on campus was at 9AM, so I had plenty of time to drive home, catch the campus shuttle bus and get to class. My body had a hard time adjusting to this schedule! There is something that happens to your body at about 3AM. You begin to fight to stay awake. Your body temperature drops. You desperately crave warmth and sleep. I did everything I could to stay awake, this was not the time for bookkeeping because your brain goes into a seized up mode. I would pull a blanket out of the closet to get some warmth and literally jog around the cottage, I began setting an egg timer to go off every 20 minutes just to be sure I didn’t fall asleep… when 4:30AM rolled around, it started to ease up… I usually began prepping breakfast for my early risers, so I knew I was in the safe zone. The day shift arrived at 8AM.

I was invited to participate in a ‘3AM breakfast club’ with the other counselors in the kitchen. I was told this is what the graveyard shift would do to fight that 3AM sleep craving time. Potluck in the kitchen. I was never comfortable leaving my cottage. We only had glorified baby monitors. There was no way to really hear the door alarm warnings if they went off. (This would also alert us if any of our kids were up and roaming.) I was not comfortable being way down in the kitchen for any amount of time. This did not make me very popular with the other staff, but I was not there to watch over them! Finally, I excused myself from the ‘breakfast club’ gathering with the regret of needing ‘homework time’ during my shift. I was really miffed about these gatherings…

As I was walking back to my cottage, I hear the tricycle clattering along down the hall. I often listened to the ghost child on the trike as it passed my cottage but then I realized I had never been in the hall with the tricycle rider!!! I had no idea what to expect! (Could one of the counselors be playing a trick on me?) I quickened my steps, and the trike rider peddled faster. (Damn it!) I stopped altogether, and the trike rider peddler slowed, then stopped. (Hell, no!) I ran, and the trike peddler started peddling really fast! It was coming towards me … I reached the door to my cottage, fumbling to unlock the door I turned to look down the hall. There was the big wheel of the trike barely coming into view. I got the door to the cottage unlocked and ran in securing it behind me. I turned around and muffled a scream as I saw a child standing in front of me! “Do you hear that?!?!?” the child screamed. (It was one of my kids, my cottage kid.) I responded “shhh…” as I pulled her to a sitting position on the floor by me. I had my back against the door to the cottage. We listened to the trike peddle slowly by us and on down the hall.

I explained to the child, who was now sitting on the floor beside me, that it was one of the other counselors playing a prank and that she needed to head back up to bed. She looked at me doubtfully and said, “you looked pretty scared.” I said, “Naw, I’m just too old for pranks!” We went into the kitchen for a glass of milk and a cookie. (I’m so glad milk and cookies work!) We chatted about her field trip scheduled for that day and what would she wear! Then, off to bed she went, and I decided to start breakfast preparation.

The incident in the hallway was nothing more than a child on a trike who possibly wanted to have a little fun with me. That is that! No harm, no foul. Finding one of my kids awake as I returned to my cottage shook me up. What if she would have needed me?  There would never be a ‘breakfast club’ meeting for me again.

(Continued, Before I Tripped, #17)


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