Chicken skin


Every year, right before Halloween, I remind myself that I need to tell my eerie tale. Every year I forget because I have a memory similar to that of a coconut’s. I have decided to share the story this week, instead of waiting another year because I will inevitably forget again … and also because I’ve been stuck inside my house for two weeks and have no other good column ideas as of now.

I don’t remember exactly what part of the year this all happened, but if I had to guess, I would say it was sometime between January and December. I was getting ready for bed one night. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a little girl playing in the hallway.

Having two little girls myself, the obvious answer was that I had consumed too much wine that night. Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending on how you want to look at it), I was 100 percent sober. Another logical explanation would be that it was one of my girls, but they were passed out … not from drinking wine though, just from playing hard that day. I feel the need to clarify that.

I walked down the hall to further investigate (like idiots do in horror movies right before they are attacked). My husband asked what was wrong. I almost didn’t tell him because I didn’t want him to think I was crazy, but I decided to take my chances.

“I’ve seen her before,” he said very nonchalantly. “What?! Why didn’t you tell me?!” I asked him. Apparently he didn’t want me to think he was crazy.

The next morning, I called my friend/landlord to tell her. We chatted for a long time about everything else because I was nervous. Does anyone else do that? Just keep bringing up random topics to put off the topic you’re trying to get the courage to talk about? Or is it just me?

Anyway, I finally asked her, “Have any little girls ever passed away in this house?” There was a long silence and then she eventually asked why I wanted to know. I could tell by her tone that she already knew why I was asking. I told her the story and she urged me to call her mom.

As it turns out, her mom (who lived in the house before us) was once on a business trip talking to some strangers. One of the strangers asked if her daughter (then around 4 or 5) ever played with “friends” that she couldn’t see. “All the time.” She answered, assuming this was normal. The stranger then told her that her daughter was a weirdo.

Just kidding. The stranger explained that she was a psychic, that the spirit of a small girl resided in their house, and that she was harmless. Maybe the psychic was right, or maybe we’re all imagining things. I don’t know, but the whole thing gave me chicken skin for weeks.

Chicken skin is what they call goosebumps in China by the way.

For questions, comments, or other Chinese trivia, please e-mail me at [email protected]