One night on this stretch of road, I saw a woman in black standing in the shadows. She was stock-still, staring into the distance. I’ve never seen her again, but I think about her every time I drive past.
The Broken Oak, Damsel’s Cross
Some taverns tell their tales in the free public library of swinging signs. Some like The Broken Oak will only give up their strange stories if you venture inside. While its name and sign is simple memorial to a lightning-tortured tree that once stood on the village green, once inside, the establishment offers a unique look at old method of dealing with troublesome spirits. For the price of a pint, you can take a look at its perpetually locked ‘ghost room’.
In the late 18th century, The Broken Oak was so troubled by an unruly spirit that scratched and scarred both the landlord’s wife, her young maid and several of its patrons, that a ghost-layer was called. When the sanctions of the Church of England were unable to end the spiritual terror, the services of the cunning folk were…
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Not far from my old neighborhood is a burial ground, the site of a mass grave for settlers who did not survive the first part of the journey inland. Some succumbed to cholera, some to a poisoned well, some to the harsh conditions at Carlschafen, on the bay.
Sometimes I would walk here at night, well aware that my ancestors’ journey could have ended in this place. The ones who remain don’t even have a plaque to mark their names. They are all but forgotten.
The sense of any presence is vague and thin, as if the place is determined to forget its own history too. But who can say? Perhaps this cat sees more than I do.