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Of all the types of ghosts that exist, apparitions were the hardest

find. These were the ones that were said to be living around our

property in Marysville. So barefoot, I tread through the untamed

tangle of trees. The forest debris dug into my soles but I was looking

for the faded figure of my favourite ghost, Peter.

The swamp was only a few hundred metres away from our house,

but you had to make your way through the dense bushland to find

it. I traced my way along the cracked earth to find the thick, muddy

pool of water. I often imagined all kinds of life inhabiting the murky

liquid, like yabbies and fish, obscured from the open land above.

They must be frightened of what lies beyond the dark safety of their

hidden world.

As I made my way back that day, a thorn pierced my heel. I

wailed but there was no one apart from the cockatoos to hear me.

In enduring silence, I journeyed back to the house I’d grown up in,

having limped the whole way. Dad picked me up and efficiently put

me on the table, pulled out the wedged thorn, dabbed alcohol on

the wound and bandaged me up. The scent of scotch lingered in the

air as I looked down at my mummified foot. It had been a while

since I’d seen liquor go anywhere other than his mouth.

At night, he was a beastly figure, audaciously sprawled across the

couch. Mum tucked me in to bed and gently smiled at me in an

attempt to hide the resentment and sourness behind her face. She

often told me ghost stories of the apparitions that lived in the trees

around us. They were lost spirits, looking for a way out of the tangle

of bush and back into life. She told me of characters like Margaret,

the scullery maid; George; the successful property owner; and of

course, Peter, the young boy who stole his Mistress’s jewels and ran

off into the bush where they were never seen again. Mum told me

not to, but at night I’d leave my bedroom window open, in the

hopes the apparitions would come visit me as I slept. I’d wake up in

the mornings with small, round, itchy welts on my body, fairly

confident it was the apparitions who did it.

My cousins came to visit sometimes in the summer, dumped by their

mother for days at a time. As they munched and rumbled, I couldn’t

help feeling away, as if I wasn’t fully there.

“Can we go to that swamp-thing?”

“Yeah we want to go. Please.”


Grace Zimmerman