Right before I turned 21 I moved to a new city, transferred colleges, and got an apartment by myself. I picked a place out on the third story of a rambling old Victorian mansion - a modest studio with white metal cabinets from the 1950's and a rusted fire escape which always gave me bad feelings. It was metal, and rather than a window access to it it had a glass, full-sized door. I was young and living in a not-so-great part of town and my imagination always got the best of me, especially late at night when I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t shake the idea of someone climbing up the fire escape and opening the door.

Beyond the threat of a real-life criminal, I also knew there was a ghost in the house, especially in my apartment. Not an unfriendly spirit, but still, something there, a presence that knew I was living in it’s space. The same typical ghost-type creepy tropes all happened at random times when I lived there: those cabinets wide-open when I woke up in the morning, my keys or other items getting misplaced OR sometimes being “replaced” - I remember one time frantically searching for my car keys for like 15 minutes, rushing from the kitchen to the bathroom to my dresser, when all of the sudden I noticed them sitting smack in the center of my dining room table, a place that I had already looked over a few times. During these moments I usually said, aloud, “Come on Hester!” I don’t know why, but I named the ghost Hester, probably because I was an English Major.

Hester became a joke to me and my friends, my family too - “Damn it Hester!” I’d say when I’d come home from a long day from school and work to the radio just blaring at top volume, knowing it was off when I’d left that morning … “Hester!” I’d mutter whenever my bedside lamp flickered when I’d be reading right before sleep. My girlfriends and I would stumble into the apartment drunk and before falling asleep wish Hester sweet dreams too … it was all pretty silly and quaint. Even though Hester was sorta annoying, I got the feeling the presence was amused by my young-single-girl ways and never meant to harm me or really frighten me, Hester just liked fucking with me.

Anyway, one night, after I’d been living there for about 2 years, I woke up to the feeling of someone flopping down on the bed next to me. A very deliberate shake, meant to rattle me awake. I shot up, confused, scared, and then two things happened at the same time: my living room light blazed on, and one of those metal kitchen cabinets slammed open and shut three times in succession, BANG BANG BANG. I could barely muster the thought “what the fuck, hester…” when I heard another sound, that to this day terrifies the shit out me… someone outside the glass fire escape door, their feet stomping as they went down the rusted metal steps, but thankfully, going away from the apartment.

So yeah, after that, I never minded Hester. Because that annoying presence that liked to fuck with me whenever I was late, who liked to show itself to remind me it was around just as soon as I sorta forgot about it… well, I’m quite sure it protected me that night. Thanks, Hester.