Savannah is a very haunted city. Which is part of why I liked growing up there. It was fairly easy to find people who appreciated ghosts and other eclectic phenomenon.
After visiting Georgia and her recently departed husband, Andrew, I made my way over to the other side of town to visit with another childhood friend.
Merrilyn was a favorite playmate of both Alexa’s and mine when we were children. Even though Alexa is a couple of years older than Merrilyn and me, the three of us were nearly inseparable. When Maman would bring us into town so she could visit her friends, attend meetings and run errands, she would let the three of us run around outside in orbit of wherever she happened to be.
We played in the grassy city squares where we often splashed barefoot in some of the city fountains. Though we weren’t supposed to. And because Savannah has so many cemeteries, we often found ourselves playing hide and seek around the headstones of Civil War soldiers.
Today Merrilyn and I strolled through one of Savannah’s older cemeteries. Her chestnut hair danced around her shoulders in God-given curls as she told me about her latest historical rehabilitation project in downtown Savannah.
“We’re refurbishing all of the walls and floors to their original stain colors. Most of the guys doing the sanding and staining were complaining that the house was haunted. They said there were cold spots, weird knocking noises upstairs, voices that didn’t seem to belong to the crew. I’ve had three guys quit already because they said they felt people watching them while they worked. I didn’t believe them until I took this photo and look!”
Merrilyn handed me a photo of one of the semi-furnished rooms of the house and it was covered in orbs. There had to be 100 orbs in the room.
“Oh, Merrilyn,” I exclaimed. “It really is haunted…”
I touched the photo and a vision of a woman in a navy blue, high neck dress came to mind.
“Do you know the history of the building?” I asked.
“Not much of its original history. It was built in the mid 1850s as a private residence. The original owner’s daughter lived there for a while. But no one has lived there since the 1950s. The owner rents it out to tourists and to local people for events. Why? What do you see?”
I told Merrilyn about the woman. “There are fabric covered buttons traveling from the top of the neck all the way to the hem.”
“Could we go visit later today?” She asked. “If we could get her to leave, maybe the rest of my crew wouldn’t quit! I really want to finish this job.”
We turned the corner and I stopped abruptly. A young man in a Confederate uniform was leaning against a tombstone, relaxing. He jumped when I saw him and then he ran off.
“What’s the matter?” Merrilyn asked.
“Nothing. Typical Savannah.” I said.
Merrilyn was building her restoration business from the ground up and was working hard to get it going. She had several other homeowners who were interested to hire her. But if she couldn’t keep a crew onsite long enough to finish a job, it would be hard to build a good reputation for herself.
“The owner says he can’t keep the house rented on nights with a full moon,” Merrilyn said as we walked into the three story pre-Civil War home. Suddenly everything became eerily quiet. As if there had just been a party going on, but now everyone stood quietly staring at us.
“Mind if I start upstairs?” I asked.
“Want company?” Merrilyn sidled up next to me as we climbed up the stairs. She looked nervously over her shoulder into the room now below us. We could both feel the invisible eyes watching our every move.
I followed the trail of the presence of the woman I’d seen. She was expecting me. Ghosts missed nothing.
When we reached the bare, attic-like room I saw the woman in blue staring out the window just under the roof’s apex. She didn’t turn around but I knew she saw me. Her hair was pulled up off of her neck in a long, draped updo and an ornate hair comb tucked at the top.
“Oh, she’s here, isn’t she?” Merrilyn asked. “I can feel her.” Merrilyn rubbed her throat.
“She is,” I answered.
I quietly asked the woman in blue why she was here. She ignored me.
“You can’t stay here any longer,” I said. “You’re ruining my friend’s business.”
“Well, he ruined my life!” The woman in blue yelled and immediately her story burst into my head. A handsome dark-haired man on bended knee gave her a mine cut diamond solitaire. When their wedding day arrived, however, she was the only one to show up at the crowded church. He was nowhere to be found. It was finally revealed he had left town with another girl, and the despair was too much for the woman in blue to bear.
“Was this your house?” I asked. The ghost laughed aloud and pointed toward the rafters. Her body swung from one of the lowest boards. Merrilyn was oblivious as she stood below it.
“What’s happening?” Merrilyn leaned in and asked.
“Left at the altar,” I said.
“What an ass,” Merrilyn said as she shook her head.
And the ghost’s energy softened.