Phasmophobia: Fear of Ghosts, Galephobia: Fear of Sharks
It is common knowledge that children are afraid of ghosts. They get scared by the noises old houses make. Each creak or groan is Marley and his chain coming to condemn them. The monster will emerge from the closet with a sheet draped over its invisible form to give it tangibility and cloak it in 500 thread-count softness.
I was afraid of ghosts. Of course I was. They are phantasms of a world left behind, and in the movies and TV shows (Casper excluded) they are always angry. I didn’t want some transparent angry old woman showing up in my bathroom mirror or tossing things at me.
In my old house, there was a pool. Or rather, a house for the pool connected to the main house. It was an exercise in wealth and whimsy, and we were Olympians. It was humid in there, always a balmy seventy-something-or-other, perfect for winter days when the snow piled three, four, five feet high outside. There was a
hilarious mural on the walls depicting Hawaii, dolphins, and a whale with the proportions of one of the islands breaching from the ocean and the wall.
We only swam when we had company, which is insane and preposterous and offensive to that gigantic whale. Why I didn’t become a mermaid and live in the water, I attribute to the fact that I never went in the pool house by myself if I could avoid it.
It was clearly haunted. Every hour or so the humidifier would turn on and emit a screech that the Devil himself couldn’t elicit from his sinners. It was as if the humidifier you use to get rid of colds was genetically engineered to be the size of a pick-up truck and eat all of your hopes and dreams. And the water in the pool was so still. It was too still. It was false, trying to lure wayward children and adults into its depths only to devour them later.
I knew what would happen if I went swimming by myself: I would putter about in the deep end, and suddenly I would feel a slight painful tug on my foot. Scared, I would look around and down—nothing. Thinking I just had a muscle spasm or something, I would continue about my leisurely business. And then I would feel an incredibly sharp pain and I would be pulled down under the water. I would struggle for air as the water around me turned purple with my blood. My attacker would remain unseen. Hours later, my mom would walk into the pool house, slam the squeaky door, and scream in harmony with the humidifier upon discovering the shredded remains of my body. The autopsy would reveal a shark attack. My family, the coroner, hell, the country would be shocked. My family would drain the pool and board off that part of the house.
What killed me, you ask? Good question.
A ghost shark.
I was so terrified of this invisible Jaws that for the entirety of the ten years I lived in the Evergreen house, I never went swimming by myself–even after I was medicated (at age 14). The ghost shark prevented me from enjoying the pool well into my teenage years. I moved out of that house when I was seventeen. I still hadn’t gone swimming by myself.
Even when I was medicated, I was never the first person in the pool. Whenever there was any company and we headed to the pool, someone else had to enter before me. I needed proof that Invisible Jaws wouldn’t attack, so every swim time I was tentatively sacrificing friends and
family to the appetite of a cursed fish.
Why or how a ghost Great White Shark ended up in a pool in Evergreen, Colorado, at least a 1000 miles away from any ocean, I never cared to think through.
I just knew it was trying to kill me.