Glimmer: The Haunting of the Graham House
John and Sarah Graham found me after seeing one of my exhibitions and wanted to ask me about the ghosts I had been researching. They seemed fixated on how the ghosts in my shows were visible in physical space. I asked why. “See,” Sarah said, “Our ghost lives in the mirrors.”
Sarah explained to me that the apparition of a young woman appeared to the family, but only in reflections. I was very skeptical at first, as I hear ghost stories all the time. The truth is, I really didn’t believe in ghosts. After a lengthy conversation about my doubts and their privacy, John and Sarah trusted me, and invited me to photograph in their home.
At first I didn’t see any girl. Was my skepticism founded? “She doesn’t know you yet,” John said, “Sometimes I wish she didn’t know me.” Sarah pleaded with me to come back a few times, and I did. After several visits I was about to write this off as another hoax, when one evening Sarah called from the bathroom. “She’s here!” I ran to the bathroom to find a young woman in the mirror, as if she were standing next to Sarah.
I said to Sarah, “I’m moving in.” To my surprise, the Grahams agreed, and over the next two months they granted me unprecedented access to their house, and their lives. These are my photographs from that time.
The Grahams bought their three story Victorian in 2002. There was nothing unusual until Kevin was seven and surprised Sarah with a question, “Mommy, who’s the girl in the mirror?” Soon all the Grahams could see the girl, and before long she became commonplace. She would silently walk into a room, only visible through a reflection. She was there, yet not there. I witnessed her numerous times while staying at the house. Any attempt to speak to her was unanswered. She would leave the room if I tried to touch her. She wasn’t transparent, as ghosts are sometimes pictured, but she seemed shimmery and slightly out of focus.
The Grahams are private (their names have been changed) and have told only close family and trusted friends about their housemate. Kevin is a quiet, shy boy who keeps to himself. Ashley is a teenager however, and has had friends over. “We’ve asked her friends to not tell anybody,” From my observation, her friends couldn’t care less. Ashley asked me one night, “Can you make her go away?”
One day I noticed that the girl whispered in Kevin’s ear. I asked him later if he could hear the girl speak. He said no, but blushed and looked away.
Sarah seemed to be more at ease when the girl was around. John seemed less interested, even uncomfortable in her presence. He told me, “A lot of times I just ignore her, but sometimes you can’t.”
The records at the historical society show the house was built in 1890, but there is no record of a girl her age living there in the early years.
After two months of photographing, I’d become quite fond of the girl, but felt my shooting had run its course, and I moved out. Sometime later Sarah phoned me to say they had decided to sell the house, and that she and John were divorcing. “I’d keep the house if I could, but I can’t.” Sarah said. I could hear her stifling tears over the phone. “The hardest part,” she said, “is that I can’t take her with me.”
After the house sold, I called the new residents under the guise of being from their realtor’s agency. I asked them if everything was okay with the house. “The plumbing is a bit of a mess,” the man told me.
“Well,” I said, “please call me if anything else shows up.”