The time is the late 1980's, 1988 to be precise. I was now enjoying a new kind of life. Free from feeling manipulated and put upon and enjoying a new relationship. I was awaiting my A level results and planning on going to Polytechnic in the autumn.
Going out with Duncan was fun, he was a clever articulate and very funny young man. Traumatised from the loss of his mother a year or so earlier and the now strained relationship with his father, Duncan was a kind of lost soul who had immersed himself into his music to the exclusion of much else. He had a close circle of friends who he had known for most of his life and a lot of time was spent at various people's houses, enjoying a party atmosphere every Friday night.
Duncan lived in a Victorian semi detached house in Hartshill. Its long corridor like shape seemed to go on forever, both upstairs and downstairs. One particular weekend while his father was away, I stayed over. We had spent the evening watching videos of Woodstock and The Monkee's film 'Head', not realising that time had passed and it was late.
"Do you fancy some chips? I'll make us some" Duncan slid off to the kitchen to prepare them. I followed and perched myself on a chair by the kitchen table, and we chatted about all sorts of things. Then the scene changed, suddenly, without warning, I was sitting in the same kitchen. I began to tell Duncan what I saw.
"There's food on the table and on the kitchen cupboards, lots of party food. And there are people by the front door. This is so weird, I'm feeling very claustrophobic, its very hot and there are lots of people here. I'm surrounded by people and its scary. They're trying to tell me something, but I don't know what it is." I tried to catch my breath, but I was feeling increasingly stressed out "Some of them are making a telephone call. I think some of them want to go home. Can we go and open the front door and let them go?"
"Yeah, if that's what they want" Duncan, seemingly not phased by my strange behaviour, perhaps humouring me agreed and walked with me toward the front door.
We opened the door and felt the energy change. As if people really had left the house. Returning to the kitchen I sat down again.
"I'm still feeling hot and need to open the back door!" I was feeling increasingly anxious. My breathing laboured. I was overwhelmed by the experience.
I flung the back door open and felt a rushing sensation up my back and over the top of my head and around my body, like someone had climbed up my back and over my head and flew away.
I began breathing deeply, then I turned to my left and saw something in the window next to me.
On the floor was a small boy, watching television. He was happily playing, wearing shorts. Behind him, sitting in an armchair was a beautiful woman with shoulder length curly hair, wearing a red and blue checked shirt and jeans, she sat smoking. I began to cry.
"Whatever is the matter Sheena?" Duncan was concerned by what he's just witnessed, "Why are you crying?"
"I've just seen you as a little boy, sitting on the floor watching tv and a woman was sitting in that chair wearing a checked shirt and jeans and smoking a cigarette" I described the shirt, the colours and how she was sitting, even the pedestal ashtray, I described the little boy.
With tears in his eyes Duncan said "I think you've just seen my mum, she used to wear a checked shirt just like that all the time, and yes, we had one of those ashtrays and she used to sit where you said and yes, I used to sit on the floor"
It wouldn't be the last time I saw her either. On another occasion I saw her dressed in a white suit with a hat, wearing a green blouse, standing on the staircase. She was always around her sons and we'd all sense her from time to time.
That wasn't the only strange experience I had at the house.
Another night when I was staying over, Duncan and I went to bed in his room. I had a fitful night sleeping and couldn't settle.
"Are you OK?" Duncan enquired sleepily
"There's a small girl playing in the room with us, she's playing with a teaset, a ceramic one." I described the scene of a small young girl playing peacefully with her self as is the wont of small children. Suddenly the scene changed.
"I can hear footsteps up the stairs and the little girl is scared, she's trying to get up the wall in this corner (the one we were in), Oh my God she's terrified and screaming, we have to help her!"
I could hear heavy footsteps stomping up the stairs, felt the whole house quake with each stomp. The little girl was trying to climb up the wall, clawing at the walls trying to escape.
The bedroom door swung open in this strange parallel world, and in the doorway stood a large man with dark hair and dark rimmed glasses. The little girl was screaming and crying for help.
"We have to help her Duncan"
So we began to shout at the 'man' swearing at him, shouting at him to leave the little girl alone.
This seemed to go on for an eternity.The man oblivious to our barrage of abuse and desperate pleas to leave us all alone.
A glow emanated from a pinprick of light and another figure appeared. An old man wearing an overcoat and flat cap. He stood by the side of the bed and illuminated the room. He simply said "Thank you" and the room returned to darkness and looked the same as it did before, strewn with clothes and the detritus of a teenage boy.
"I'm glad that's over" I said, "I think the old man took the girl with him, like he was her guardian angel or something and I don't think the other man will be bothering anyone else again"
The lasting impression I had of that house were these experiences. I was always catching something out of the corner of my eye. Old buildings store up a lot of energy in the bricks and mortar, they develop a personality of their own. On the whole the house wasn't a scary house as such. Just one where things had happened, some of them were lasting family memories, others were more severe. I suspected that the house had housed an abuser and his victim, but never really looked into it, as life took me away from the house and I wasn't able to go back armed with more insight and information. All I knew was that I was determined to learn more about my experiences, but didn't know the first place to find out. I carried on reading books, as it was all I could do.