‘Did you sense the ghost?’
Elsie is quite matter of fact about it. She may as well be talking about a touch of damp.
‘There’s a ghost? What ghost?’
I look around.
If there’s one house that should be haunted it’s Elsie’s. An ancient flint-walled cottage squashed shoulder to shoulder with its neighbours these past three hundred years. The builder must have been cross-eyed and in a rush, though, because there’s only one square dimension in the place I can see, and that’s the TV Elsie has put in the corner of the lounge.
Even the name on the ceramic plaque outside has a shiver about it: Rose Cottage - the euphemism hospitals often use for the mortuary.
‘Yes. A little girl died in a fire here in the eighteenth century. I met a local expert who knows about these things. He told me this is the most haunted cottage in the village.’
‘Doesn’t that worry you?’
‘At first I thought: hmm. But then I thought: Well why not? What can they do? They’re only ghosts!’
‘Yeah, but it’s not like having mice, is it?’
‘Oh no, I think it’s much better. So long as you don’t make a fuss and just get on with your life, you can rub along together quite satisfactorily. You keep out of each other’s way.’
Elsie has her bag packed and ready. She takes one last look around.
‘She was here just a moment ago.’
‘The little ghost?’
‘I was in the bathroom having my shower. It gets quite steamy in there, you know. That whirly thing is a dead loss – all noise and no action. Anyway, I’d got out of the shower and was towelling myself down, when I saw these two tiny little hand prints appear, in the top right hand corner of the bathroom mirror. A darling little child’s hands.’
‘That’s pretty spooky,’ I say. ‘That’s like something out of a film. You know – the steamy bathroom mirror thing.’
‘Oh, she was just messing about. Although I’ve no idea how she got up there. I’d have to stand on a stool to reach.’
Elsie locks the door and drops the key into her purse.
‘I can only suppose she flew. Now then, where are you parked?’