Friday, April 4, 2014


Disaster has struck our household. In a small way, I hasten to add, not like having a fire, or an auto wreck, or a major illness, but mini-disaster. Which is to say, two shelves which I personally installed in the attic/guest room/sewing studio years ago, screwing them firmly, as I thought, into the joists, have torn themselves free from the wall and flung themselves clear across the alcove.

I heard it happen, last week in the middle of a Thursday afternoon. I just didn't know what it was. You know the sound—a thousand pounds of books plunging to the floor, buckets of buttons rattling and rolling, the tinkle and crunch of broken glassware. Or maybe you don't know the sound. Maybe you've been lucky. Maybe your shelves always remain attached to your walls and your bookcases hold together in one piece at all times. May they ever continue so.

Anyway I heard it, that dreadful sound, and my first thought was that a bookshelf had let go in the upstairs front room, which we call the library (although it's where we keep the TV). I rushed to see, but all seemed calm. The cat still lounged undisturbed in the window. She gave me one of those looks, as if to say, "What?" No books had fallen. I called downstairs to Harold, and all was well with him. I thought, "It must be the neighbors again." Things have been tense over there in recent weeks, with slamming of doors and banging of furniture. Our common wall is made of cardboard. Surely it was them. And so I forgot about it.

Forgot about it, that is, until last night just before bed, when I found myself in need of a fresh topsheet and wandered drowsily up to the attic to find one. Quel horrible surprise. The shelves were flung every which way. My sewing books, as Captain Aubrey would say, were all ahoo. Cast carelessly about in the wrack of buttons and sewing tools were the toys I let the kids play with last New Year's Eve. Never picked them up. I don't go up there often.

The impression I got from the scene was one of great violence. In my sleepy state I could think of nothing but evil ghosts. Someone once told me that my attic was haunted by a malevolent spirit. I don't really believe that, certainly not in the daylight, but at half-past the hour when I normally go to sleep it seemed like a plausible idea. I ran downstairs, closed the attic door firmly after myself, and had hysterics all over Harold.

Harold promised to help me with the problem. Now he has taken an interest in the stuff that's scattered all over the attic. This morning we went to Staples and bought a set of ten cardboard storage boxes. He's going to sort my things, he says. My God, he'll put my stuff away where I'll never find it again. Excuse me. I have to go take care of this before he gets home from work. Or before the sun goes down.

© 2014 Kate Gallison


  1. Very vivid and amusing! I can just see the mess!! tjs

  2. Horrible in the true sense of the word! Light some sage while you're up there today. Tell that ghost you heard her/him, and you want them to go on their merry way. I love your voice in this post. Must check out your books!

  3. Thank you! I'm thinking, sea salt, too.