ALICE

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I first met Alice when I was about 10 years old.  She’s a South Carolina ghost, and the stories of her left me many sleepless nights.

She lived in the mid 1800s at her family’s seaside home at Murrell’s Inlet.  While on vacation in the 1970s, my family happened on her home place, the Hermitage, and an older gentleman, a family descendent, invited us in for a tour and shared her story.  Apparently Alice fell in love with a dude that her brother disapproved of.  She left home for school and married the outsider.  When she returned to the Hermitage, she wore her wedding ring around her neck to conceal her disobedience.  When she became sick with scarlet fever, the ring was discovered.  Her angry brother grabbed the ring and tossed it into the marsh surrounding their home.  She died shortly after.  Her family was so mad that the only thing they put on her gravestone was her first name:  ALICE.

The story I remember is that if you run around her grave 14 times backwards, lie down, and truly believe, she will appear.

So being in the area for Labor Day, I felt obligated to take Stephanie and Michelle to see her.  We were so busy throughout the day that we didn’t get the chance to visit her until Sunday night.

We pulled up to the cemetery at 10:30.  PM.  The wrought ironed gate had a sign that said OPEN FROM 8 AM TIL DARK.  It was dark, so I interpreted that we were within the rules.

As I walked toward the back of the graveyard, Stephanie pulled on my left arm while Michelle pulled on the right both leaning toward the parking lot with full force.  I felt like a mule pulling a wagon.  My body leaned forward dragging them toward our destination.  Although their body language said otherwise, I could tell they wanted to be there.  I had not physically put them in the car.  They came on their own accord.

As we passed the small stone church, a huge spotlight shone in my eyes.

I’ll have to admit it startled me.  I thought someone was standing there with a lantern.    Regaining my composure, I broke away from the girls long enough to figure out where Alice lay.  I called them over when I found her.

There were rings and some money on the slab of marble that defined her resting spot.  Others had been there to pay their respects.

I was hopeful.  I believed.  I ran around, backwards, fourteen times.  I settled on my back hopeful she’d make an appearance.  The girls huddled nearby expecting my next move.

I worked hard to be still long enough to build up a decent level of anticipation.  And then, with the energy of a five-year old, I leapt up, arms high in the air, screaming like a little girl, “There she is!!  On the fence!  Run!  Run!”

My long legs passed them before we got to the gate.  I bolted across the two lane road to the car, jumped in and locked the doors.

As they beat on the car windows I regained my composure, in short time opening the doors.  I assured them I had not intentionally locked them out.  “I just got worked up.”  Wise, they did not buy my story; any of it.

As we drove home I finished the tale.

“Alice follows those who visit.  When all are asleep, she pulls on the fingers of all the girls looking for her wedding band.

Whew.  Tonight I’m very thankful that I’m a boy.”

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