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Two years away from my retirement as Marketing Director of a company based in London’s west end, my Wife (Ada) and I decided to move residence from Kingston; where we had lived for twelve years, to a more rural setting. Like many couples we wanted to relax together in more natural surroundings during our later lives. At first I was apprehensive about a move but my Ada has a sweetness of nature that can be very persuasive and therefore won me over.

Just a few short weeks after shaking hands with a young gibber happy estate agent, we put an offer in on a small cottage that sat back from a winding road on the out skirts of a small village called Godalming. We moved in on a dry weekend, all plans were met as we settled down in our new cottage and held hands.

Due to the fact that London was my working destination, I, like so many others, commuted from Godalming to London by rail. The Train station was only a twenty minute walk from our cottage; depending on what winding route I chose which gave me the opportunity of some daily exercise. It was from the walk to the train station that my story first germinated.

The potency of natural freshness in the air stung my original reluctance in moving the very first morning my lungs experienced it on the way to work. Now in this moment of being, as I strolled to the station I felt a general anticipation of contentment. With only two years left of my working life the realisation of a new chapter painted a very broad smile on my face. Naturally I was all a quiver with excitement but adding and enhancing my excitement was the change of residence, signifying a new life and new adventure. I was concluding as I passed the high street, that my beloved Ada was, as she usually is, right in her decision to move to Godalming.

The potency of natural freshness in the air stung my original reluctance in moving the very first morning my lungs experienced it on the way to work. Now in this moment of being, as I strolled to the station I felt a general anticipation of contentment. With only two years left of my working life the realisation of a new chapter painted a very broad smile on my face. Naturally I was all a quiver with excitement but adding and enhancing my excitement was the change of residence, signifying a new life and new adventure. I was concluding as I passed the high street, that my beloved Ada was, as she usually is, right in her decision to move to Godalming.

As I smiled and practically skipped along I realised that I had neglected to observe the scenery as well as the time. As I checked my watched I was comforted to observe that I was ahead of time and therefore in no rush. As I slowed down my vision was directed at a large stone house that sat quietly on a corner in the direction I was going. To be precise it wasn’t the house that I first noticed but an openly displayed side of the house that ran parallel to the road. The majority of the house was hidden from view as somebody had decided to erect high fences, walls and greenery around the remaining sides of the property. In doing this they had succeeded; if it was their intention, of diddling us from observing the complete picture. There wasn’t anything protruding so as to make anybody slow their pace and study but the exposed part of the building most certainly posed an attractive air that I felt was relaying a type of epicene beauty. As I approached I was drawn in to and fascinated by the one of the four windows that appeared to have stopped suddenly as if caught playing mischief. This window, the largest of the four, lay calmly in the centre of the outer wall at ground level. Just as I was starting to quicken my pace I caught a glimpse of a shadow inside the room beyond the window, not wanting to be seen prying I turned away and headed for the station just in time to see the train stumble into view.

On my return journey home, I and fellow passengers were supplied with a supplement of rain as we alighted from our carriages. Even though I was prepared with an umbrella the idea of getting wet was enough to hasten my pace. This being the case my surroundings had to circumscribe to into the background, as I neither had the will or the time to take them in. However, I did look momentarily into the window that I had observed that morning and in the brief moment I observed a large blazing fire working hard above the hearth. It was of no importance to me at the time but on reflection I had a curious feeling that the fire; although strong in appearance, gave off no heat.

Day after day, Monday’s to Friday’s I completed my short journey to and from the station, taking on, with light courage all that Mother Nature through at my suburban journey. Depending on my fancy, I often varied my route so as to explore this new place and its twists and turns. The vast majority of routes took me past the house; which I discovered from a sign half hidden under ivy, is called ‘Westbrook house’. When I did pass the house I occasionally glimpse shadows of movement as I had done the first time I encountered it but nothing solid until one Thursday evening.

Ada was out at her church club so I was in no rush to get home and therefore I sat at the back of the pack of passengers leaving the station. As I approached the window my mind was focused on work challenges however as I came into direct view of the window I looked inside momentarily and observed some small figures occupying space around the hearth. They appeared to be warming themselves by the fire. Although it wasn’t much more than a glimpse the sight was sufficient enough for me to make some observations of bewilderment. I noticed three figures in total, a female adult and two children who had their arms wrapped around each other. Although the light was poor and the fire had great powers for creating distorted objects I was certain that their attire was wrong. Not knowing fancy or trade terms for their garments, all I can report is that their clothes did not fit with this century. In addition, above the fire place hung a large mirror which I hadn’t noticed before, that showed no reflection of the light. It hung darkly above the flames as if abandoned by the scene.

I was flummoxed but not shaken by what I had seen however it jolted my mood and weighed heavily on me during the rest of my walk. I still decided not to involve Ada in my experience as some of my personal observations have been met and labelled as ‘eccentricities’ in the past.

Despite the fact that I continued to pass Westbrook almost daily there was nothing to report until a couple of weeks before Christmas.

Then on Friday morning during a rather biting frost that settled on my face and clothes I strolled happily towards the station as usual. Being a Friday and nearly Christmas I was full of positive emotions as I approached the Westbrook window. The first thing I noticed was that the window was open; which was strange on such a cold morning, then I spotted a head peering from the window sill. Before I knew it I came into eye contact with a small boy of about seven or eight. He stared at me with marble eyes that looked almost painted onto his translucent white face. As we looked at each other a shiver of immense proportions took hold of my body, at the same moment the child screamed without sound while his face contorted into a show of horror. I gained control of my body and ran towards the train station as he retreated back into the room.

The experience truly shook me, I had no appetite for reading on the train, instead I retrieved my note book from my case and noted down my observations. With the sun returning above the horizon and in the company of many fellow commuters, my mind began to thaw, which helped me reflect on the detail. The boy had worn a pale blue beret, his arm was rested on the sill and holding his head up. The sleeve of his coat was also blue but of a different shade, his wrists were circled by a whit material such as a handkerchief. His face was pale but shined, those eyes, grey and lifeless and his mouth; when opened resembled a small puddle of black oil.

Although Ada had ask me if everything was alright, I decided to remain silent about my experiences as I didn’t want to worry her and I also didn’t feel that the experience sat within my real life.

I chose to avoid Westbrook for a few days even though I was intrigued and drawn towards the mysterious window. Then once again I decided to attempt another look on my way home from work. When I arrived at the train station, I let my fellow passengers go ahead of me so that I could be alone when passing the window. I had an overwhelming fascination to creep up to the house as if in anticipation of a confirmation or conclusion to my experiences. As I approached the window the echo of my steps transformed me into a void of reality and I obtained a feeling of hesitation that was busy making cartwheels in my stomach. However I didn’t stop, I just slowed down and tipped my head so I could use the rim of my hat to protect me from any vision I might encounter. Then my heart leapt as I took full sight of a child, the same child, who this time had a sort of fog about him, his head was turned and he appeared to be motioning to something from within the room. In a moment he was joined by another child, smaller than him but with the same ghostly atmosphere about him. I slowed even more, staring directly at them. They both started throwing their arms about shouting; again in silence, franticly panicking. Their cold eyes although lacking life produced a mesmerising fear. I watched their actions, very much afraid and confused. Then in another moment they were moved aside by a female of sorts, an adult who had suddenly placed her hands upon her convulsive mouth as she made a motion to scream. This time I could just about hear what seemed like a distant scream, muffled but true coming from her as her equally dead eyes rolled and screwed up into a hideous set of frosted white balls. I tore myself from the scene and ran as fast as I could up church street and all of the way home only stopping to retrieve my 63 year old breath when I was in sight of my cottage.

My lucent and gamely emotions were erased in what could have only been seconds. My heart had transcended any speeds reached in the last twenty years and although nearly home was in no hurry to slow down.

Ada was in the kitchen when I staggered through the door. She rushed to me and helped me up and in to the house without saying a word. I felt as if perdition was my destiny as the warmth of the house grabbed at my throat and tightened. I was sure that I was suffocating. Ada helped me out of my coat and loosened my collar, her silence comforted me and enabled me to relax and slowly take control of myself.

“William, whatever is the matter?”

“Water, can you get me some water, I will be alright, I have just had a scare that’s all, I am feeling better already.”

As I drank the water I could feel Ada, restless to help, to know, to ask.

“Shall I call the doctor William?”

“No, no, I am alright now my love, I just need a few more minutes to calm down, just a few more minutes, give me a moment.”

“Okay William but I don’t like the look of you.”

“Just give me a moment my dear, just a moment.”

Ada, made me some tea and helped me off with my shoes, I felt strangely comfortable as if I had woken from a nightmare and now everything would be alright.

Before I knew it I had fallen asleep by the fire until I was woken by a gentle touch to my cheek and the reassuring voice of my dear Ada.

“William, William.”

I opened my heavy eyes to the sight of a man I had never seen before. He wore a contented expression which I assumed was to comfort me and dilute my surprise.

“Mr Whitton, I am Doctor Yates, I am a friend of your wife’s from the local church, she ask me to come and see you, you have given her quite the scare.”

I gently shook his hand and attempted to get up from the sofa but was immediately told to relax and not move.

It transpired that Ada; with my self-interest her motive, had taken it upon her-self to call Doctor Yates, who also doubles up at being an oracle to the members of the local Christian community.

Over some tea, once I had had time to gather my thoughts, I felt compelled to tell them my story.

Although I was aware that what I was about to tell may lead to places I had no desire to attend, I knew that somehow it was for the best. I found Doctor Yates to be a very keen listener and his sober presence helped mollify my anxiety. The Doctor took notes at good speed only stopping me to clarify this point or that point so as to clarify my experience.

When I had relayed all I could remember right up to ‘then I awoke to find you here’, the Doctor sat back in our comfort chair and nibbled at his pen. Ada, who had total belief in what I had to say, sat at my side and gave my hand a reassuring squeeze. After a few points were verified the Doctor took my pulse and examined my chest. Then he recommended I take the last few days off work and get a longer Christmas break. He; at no point gave an opinion of my story or suggested in any way that I had reason to be worried, he simply said that he would be happy to help. Then, with our thanks he left us to each other.

After a few days things generally turned back to normal, we did a little light Christmas shopping and spent a few afternoons having tea at a variety of local cafes. We didn’t avoid the subject of the ‘Westbrook window’ but equally we didn’t have a detailed conversation about it either.

Then one evening a few days before Christmas Doctor Yates called round.

After offering tea and informing him of how pleased we were that he had decided to ‘pop’ round he ask if I was up to having a ‘word?’

The Doctor once again accepted the comfy chair before producing some paper from his brief case.

“William, Ada.” He said taking nods from us as replies.

Then focusing on me he took a serious turn by looking at me straight.

“William, your story, well it, well, what a story, I didn’t think for one moment that you were lying but maybe mistaken, I wasn’t sure, I hope you don’t mind me saying?”

“Not at all Doctor, I wasn’t sure if I believed it myself, and now, well it feels rather foggy like an old dream.”

“Quite, William, quite, and now are you ok if we talk about it once more as I have some news?”

“No please Doctor, go ahead, what news, I am desperate to hear.”

This is a close account of what the Doctor relayed to Ada and I that evening:

First I decided to visit the Westbrook house, although I knew that who ever lived there might struggle to believe my motive. They were; thankfully a friendly family who were kind enough to show me the very room that you described. I can confirm that the room was empty all but a mirror above a boarded fire and a few old chairs. They told me that the room has been empty for a few months in anticipation of some much needed renovation. I ask them about previous owners and occupiers but they had nothing that I would deem useful. I didn’t give up at that, I proceeded to check the parish archives and the local museum for documents and deeds to the house. After a bit more digging I came across these documents in the museum archives under the title ‘Droebin.’ At that he waved the papers that he had pulled from his case earlier.

In the year 1841 a Mrs Droebin and her two young sons moved into Westbrook house as guests of her elder brother and his wife, Mr and Mrs Linchmount. Mrs Droebin’s husband had passed away the previous winter from colic. It seems that Mrs Droebin had been invited from Wolverhampton; where the family was living, to Godalming shortly after her husband’s death. Unfortunately for Mrs Droebin and her children the stay was not the positive change that I assume was intended. According to the records after just a few days of residence the children were vexed by a ghostly figure appearing at their window. The experience persisted and in fact extended to Mrs Drobin who experienced the apparition at first hand. After her vision Mrs Droebin pack her bags and her children back to the Black Country never to return again. The local clergy felt sure that the experience was the lasting result of loss that was felt by her husband’s passing however it did not explain the reason for the children’s independent visions. Mr Lichmont was reported to have stayed in the same room after their absence to ascertain the truth in the hope of explaining the ghostly reports and keep out the local gossip. Alas he bore witness to nothing in the way of a spectre. Mrs Droebin and her children left behind a description of the Ghostly apparition that was printed in the local ‘Godalming and Farncombe mail’ in November 1841. He looked like a man but not like any man we have ever seen. He appeared to float passed our window wearing dark clothing, carrying a brown square bag and occasionally wearing a strangely designed hat that sat on his grey head like a spoiled pie. He never spoke he just glared a wicket glare and disappeared. Sometimes he came from the east and sometimes he came from the west.

When Doctor Yates had finished relaying to us the information he had uncovered he simply said.

“So William, it appears that you are the Droebin ghost and in turn the Droebin’s were your Ghosts.”

I took the opportunity to retire early in the near year. For this reason I seldom had the opportunity or need to pass Westbrook house but when the chance presented itself I did not hesitate to peep through the window. Although the apparitions had caused me so much anxiety I was still sad in the knowledge that I would never experience it again. Now all I would see was a modern decorated room full of colour and of life.

The End

Author Notes: I wrote this in 1995 - I am not sure if its an original idea but I love the simplicity of it.

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28 Nov, 2018
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