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The Ghost of Aunt May

by Beverley, Napier, New Zealand


Aunt May was a character. When she came to stay she always played the piano. You should have heard her tickle those ivories. Even though Aunt May was over eighty she played the piano better than anyone I knew. She played all the old songs - Alligator Crawl, Alexander's Rag-time Band, In the Mood and lots of boogie-woogie.

Ollie loved it. He sat on the top of the piano and swayed to the boogie beat. Sometimes he even sat on the piano keys. Aunt May didn't mind. She kept playing, under Ollie, over Ollie, around Ollie. She often sang as she played "Beat me, Ollie baby, eight to the bar."

On one visit Aunt May began talking about the after-life. She pointed to the ceiling and said "If there are no pianos up there I'm not staying."

John said with a grin. "Planning to come back and do a bit of haunting are you, Aunt May?"

Aunt May gave an Ollie-like smirk. "Too right," she said. "I reckon I'd make a beaut ghost."

Sadly, Aunt May did pass on a few months later. I knew we'd miss her. Every time I looked at the piano I thought of her. "Do you think she might do a bit of haunting," I said to John half jokingly.

John laughed. "Nawh. She'll be too busy jitterbugging with the angels."

But a few weeks later I got a shock. I woke in the middle of the night and thought I heard Aunt May playing the Alligator Crawl. I crept into the lounge and peered at the piano. All was peaceful. The moonlight slid ghostly fingers through the blinds onto the ivory keyboard. I half fancied I could see Aunt May's long fingers on the keys.

The funny thing was that Ollie felt the same as I did. He haunted the piano. I found him sleeping on the keyboard instead of the TV. He would look fixedly at the piano stool where Aunt May used to sit. He'd prowl around and around the piano looking for some ghostly presence.

The next time I heard the music I shook John awake. "Can't you hear it," I whispered. "I think she's playing 'In the Mood'."

John wasn't impressed. "Well I'm not in the mood to wake up" he growled. "If it is Aunt May let her enjoy herself." John pulled the bedclothes over his head.

A few days later I was sure I heard the music. I woke John. He gave me an instant diagnosis. "You've got wax in your ears," he said, "go and get them washed out!"

The next night we had a bad storm and Ollie sweet-talked John into letting him spend the night on his bed. Ollie likes to take the centre of the bed and leaves John to arrange himself around the outside. In the early hours I woke to more ghostly music. Then I looked at Ollie. He was sitting up in bed his eyes like saucers. I was so relieved. I wasn't going mad. Ollie heard it too.

Ollie sped out to the lounge with me in pursuit. He plunged behind the piano and emerged with the ghost of Aunt May. After I'd put the cat and his prize outside I opened the lid of the piano and peered inside. The rat had eaten quite a few of the felts. I felt sad. I'd rather liked the ghost of Aunt May.


Editor's note:

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