I hereby promise you that everything in this article is 100% true.
I don't believe in ghosts.
I did believe in ghosts, until my friend asked me the very investigative question: "But why?"
Then I realised that it was because I was once on a night train, in the sleeping carriage, and I opened my eyes and saw a man.
"Could that not just have been... a man?" my friend asked. I pondered that for a second. And then I stopped believing in ghosts.
But when I first moved to London, I had to start questioning my beliefs again. I was renting a room in an old house in Manor House for a short period of time. In the beginning, the only slightly creepy thing about the house, was that every step of the staircase squeaked when you walked on it. I lived with a big Russian man, a punkrock Dutch woman and a German man whom I almost never saw.
I started noticing a weird scent every time I entered my room. It would disappear just moments after I came in. It was the scent of a man's perfume. It wasn't expensive, so it couldn't possibly be a leftover smell of anyone I had slept with.
So I was puzzled. For a few weeks, I even refused to acknowledge the scent. Even though it was there - every time I came home. Sometimes it would be stronger and linger in the air for minutes, but I didn't want to think the word, and not at all say it out loud. Especially because I was certain, that if I did, my housemates would laugh in my face. I was convinced of this. Until -
"Have you guys noticed... a scent?" my punkrock housemate asked, when both the Russian and I were in the kitchen. We nodded.
"It's a-" she said, but was quickly interrupted by the Russian,
"Don't say it." he was pale. When a Russian man is scared, it's time for you to get scared. So I was.
"C'mon, it's clearly a ghost. It doesn't seem to be a bad ghost, though. It's almost kind of cool." she said. We didn't speak of it, but I am pretty sure that the Russian and I did not agree with her.
A few days later, in the middle of the night, I woke up because I had to pee. This never happens. I opened the door and went down one flight of squeaky stairs to the bathroom. The toilet and the zink were in two separate rooms, so when I went to wash my hands, I just left the door to the hallway open. As I was washing my hands, I froze. The scent was suddenly strong. I stared at my hands, realising that in that very moment, all I could do was look up. Into the mirror. We have all watched horror films, we know that nothing good happens when you look in the mirror at night.
I looked up. I could see the hallway in the mirror. No ghosts. But wasn't there a shadow?
I started trembling. I buried my face in my hands, refusing to look. Slowly, the scent became stronger. And stronger. Then it was right there. Right under my nose. I felt my eyes tearing up. I have never been that scared in my entire life.
Then I stopped trembling. I opened my eyes and lowered my hands. I looked at my soapy hands. I sniffed them. I looked at the soap dispenser. I sniffed it.
When you live in a household, I suppose you don't notice when someone has bought new soap. Even if it smells of a man's perfume.
It made sense. I always go to the bathroom right when I come home. Then I wash my hands and go to my room. Where the window is open and throws the scent of the soap...
The next morning, I met my housemates in the kitchen. They looked concerned.
"Relax guys," I said and casually made myself a cup of tea, "It's just a ghost."