I recently came across Ghosts in the Burbs, this creepy little WordPress blog about paranormal activity, set in Wellesley and written by Liz Sower, a Wellesley mom of two girls and a former Wellesley Children’s Room librarian. If you’re going to read it — and you should — be ready to be get the chills. Sower introduces readers to incredibly believable characters. I swear I know that real estate agent who’s kind of full of himself and has an eye for the well-toned Pilates ass as it passes by him at Quebrada. Ditto the mom at the playground with her minimal makeup and hair pulled back in a bouncy ponytail, her beat up Chuck Taylors offset by her slouchy grey cashmere turtleneck. After that, things get weird.
Sower tells readers that she’s interviewed and tape recorded actual Wellesley residents who unwittingly bought a haunted house or who somehow invited spirits into their home by using a Ouija board or even simply being in the room while one was being used. Readers who have always suspected that the old houses of Wellesley are surely full of ghosts will be spellbound. Her stories are so rife with possibility, that I knew I couldn’t blog about her blog without talking to her first. I had to know: Are these stories true?
Sower set me straight: “These are all fictional stories. I have not interviewed people,” she said firmly. There’s no flyer on the community message board near the front entrance of the library asking people to contact her with their ghost stories, and she’s not concerned that the houses of those who shared their stories with her might get added to some New England ghost tour. She assured me that the only spirit she’s found here in Wellesley is the creative spirit, and she’s channeling it into a forum for all manner of eerie stories that rattle around in her head. She has always been into tales about the spirit world and the idea of paranormal activity, and her blog is simply a way for her to unchain her active imagination.
So far she’s written two posts. The first one is the type of ghost story where dolls start moving around, and a mom is freaked out because she says the thing “wasn’t a ghost…I don’t know what it was, but I know it had never been human. It didn’t want us there, but it got some kind of power out of scaring us.”
Yikes. I’m terrified right now, and that wasn’t even the scariest part of the story. I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll just ask you this: Are you sure your marriage is strong enough to make it through a haunting?
Her next post is about a guy who talked his dinner guests into a little Ouija board activity, and nothing was the same for any of them after that. Rather than fearing the spirit unleashed by careless people who have had a couple glasses of wine, this guy gets cocky and embraces it. He’s untroubled by his 3-year old adopting it as an imaginary friend and in fact recklessly starts using the spirit as a sort of life coach. He tells the interviewer that the spirit “predicts the future, knows things that will happen to me and my family, he even knew when my mother-in-law was going to die.”
The interviewer expressed her horror, and he went on, “Yeah, well, what are you gonna do? At least I knew not to book a trip for the kid’s Spring break. But that’s not the only thing. Dates and events are great, but I am learning to, well, see things – and people – for what they really are.” At this he sat back in his chair, crossed his arms and scanned the bakery. “I know things because the board knows things.”
Sower swears she made all this up, but I found myself getting a little too involved. I was scared for that crazy guy. Dude, I thought, are you sure you’re using the spirit and it isn’t the other way around? I mean, there’s no doubt that Ouija boards are trouble, as I learned back in 5th grade when I experienced an untold level of pre-adolescent angst when I watched the board spell out to the other sleepover girls the name of my never-gonna-be-reciprocated crush. But that level of horror is nothing compared to the ghosts that Sower puts into basements and bedrooms and into the mirror, just behind you, moving so quickly that maybe it was nothing. Or maybe you’d better get the hell out of there RIGHT NOW.
Scared yet? Well, let me leave you with this last bit of oddity. As I interviewed Sower, things turned out to be a little coincidental between her life and mine. I give you this: She and her husband lived on Beacon Hill before moving to Wellesley. My husband and I lived on Beacon Hill before moving to Wellesley. Sower used to work at Framingham High School as a librarian. I used to work at Framingham High School as an English teacher. We both landed our jobs as mid-year replacements when the previous person left for medical reasons. Turns out that Sower knows my next-door neighbor.
But all that is just coincidence. Nothing paranormal about it. I’m right to take Sower at her word that her stories are pure fiction. Aren’t I?
Oh and by the way, Sower mentioned ever-so-casually that if Swellesley readers want to contact her for no special reason at all, just to, you know, say hi or whatever, they can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to follow her on Twitter.