So it's close to midnight here in Berlin and, just to creep myself out before I hit the hay, I thought I would share the creepiest ghost story I have ever heard (and yes, when I think about it, I have actually heard many....)
I've taught English as a Foreign Language for around eight years here in Berlin. Most of my teaching has been at the Technical University. The courses are in general English and open to anyone, but most of my students have been college students, a large majority of them from the TU. Although the job has some cool aspects (one of them being that I don't have a boss and can easily take two years maternity leave with no problems because I am freelance. Downside: I have to arrange for my own health insurance, etc...)when you've spent several years teaching 20 year olds named Til and Florian who are studying industrial engineering and have no hobbies, no interests and never travel (a large majority of the topics you are expected to chat about in teaching materials)then you do get burned out on the job. Every once in a while you get a cool student and, better yet, a foreign student who is closer to your own age, i.e. at least in his late 20s early 30s. (As a side note, Germans are incredibly hard to teach. They are extremely critcial, often not open to having fun and glare at you from the start, almost willing you to fail. Every English teacher I know has complained about this. The only way to deal with them is to be extremely disiplinarian, taking a My-Way-Or-The-Highway approach, something that took some getting used to since I'm from touchy-feely California. I swear, so many Berliners are closet masochists. They love the whip!!)
Anyway, in a course several years ago I had a cool student named Ricardo. Ricardo was from Chile, in his late 30s and always dressed very meticulously and had a warm smile. I was teaching the class together with my friend Tina and we both liked him immediately which meant we kept him in the class even though he wasn't quite at the level he should have been. He was so cooperative and sweet and cute (also gay, something I found rather unfortunate since I was single at the time)and was a great addition to the course though he struggled some.
It was an intensive course, which is always more fun than teaching during the semester, because you get to know the students better (two weeks, three hours a day). After the course ended Tina and I somehow ended up having a beer with Ricardo. In the cafe somehow we came to the topic of ghosts. Tina asked him if he believed in them and he sighed and told us the following story:
When he was a teenager in Chile Ricardo once spent the night at a friend's house. The friend had a guest room in the basement where he told Ricardo he could sleep. The room had no windows and you had to get up and walk down the hall to turn on the light, something that Ricardo had found sort of creepy, but he decided it was no big deal. He went down there and fell asleep. After a little while he woke up and felt a hand creeping over his body and then coming up to his face. The hand covered his mouth and he couldn't breath, so of course he started freaking out. He knocked the hand away and felt it creeping off under the bed. Though in a total panic, he didn't think he could handle getting up and walking to the hallway to turn on the light and didn't think anyone would be able to hear him if he screamed. He lay in the dark, his heart pounding, until he eventually was able to go to sleep again. The next morning he told his friend and his friend's sister what had happened. His friend's sister gasped. Something similiar had happened to her when she had slept there. Apparently, the house had been damaged in an earthquake years before and several people had died there in the basement, smothered to death in the rubble. The smothering hand must have been one of their ghosts.
Imagine Ricardo, in his broken English, telling this story over a beer. And he was a very solid, serious kind of person, not the type you would expect to have such a story to tell. Creepy....Shit. I have to go to bed soon. Thank God our bedroom isn't in the cellar!