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Saint Mary’s students reflect on supernatural occurrences

| Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Though the demands of college can be daunting, Saint Mary’s students stay in good spirits as several supernatural occurrences in residence halls prove life on The Avenue is far from a dead end.

When her bed began to shake in the middle of the night, senior — then sophomore — Fiona Van Antwerp thought her roommate was playing a prank on her, as the pair had just moved into a double on the fourth floor of Le Mans Hall.

Chris Collins

“It felt like there was somebody under my bed … pushing up underneath my mattress,” she said. “I thought, ‘Wow, you’re really good. You’re getting the bed to shake while being across the room.’”

When the same instance happened a few nights later, though, Van Antwerp knew she couldn’t blame her roommate — or any human.

“But after it happened again, I learned that she wasn’t the one behind it,” she said. “It kept happening periodically. I would just be lying in my bed, and the lights would be off, and my bed would start wobbling.”

Not being able to trace the cause of her discomfort frightened her even more than the shaking itself, Van Antwerp said.

“It would be very hard for me to get any sleep because I would be so terrified that something was going to come get me,” she said. “I felt helpless.”

Van Antwerp said her suspicion that some supernatural presence resided in her room was intensified when the wooden floor began making noises.

“There was a spot on the floor that would creak really bad,” she said. “Sometimes in the middle of the night, my roommate would be dead asleep in bed. I’d wake up, and I would hear somebody dancing on those floorboards, creaking them back and forth.”

Occurrences such as these may be startling, but Van Antwerp said students should embrace the element of surprise, for no malicious intent is involved.

“I guess [the ghosts] are students that don’t want to leave, or they’re Sisters that are trying to make sure that Saint Mary’s girls are behaving,” she said.

Senior Kathleen Melei said her quad in Holy Cross Hall sophomore year also experienced the presence of an uninvited visitor.

“My first night there, I felt tugging on my sheets,” Melei said. “Then, in October, I was falling asleep — kind of sitting there and relaxing before bed — and I heard my roommate Emily come in and get ready for bed.”

The sound of shuffling around didn’t subside, though, and Melei said she couldn’t block out the noise.

“She was taking forever to get her stuff, and I was like ‘What is she doing?’” she said. “I was facing the wall, so I couldn’t see her. You know how you kind of memorize people’s steps and how they sound? I was like, ‘It doesn’t really sound like her walk. What the heck?’”

She decided to open her eyes.

“I roll over, and I look at the edge of my bed, and someone is standing there staring at me and smiling,” Melei said. “I was like ‘Emily?’ and it didn’t move. It just stayed there smiling at me.”

Melei said she was intrigued and couldn’t avert her gaze.

“I realized it wasn’t Emily,” she said. “I was watching it, and the whole room was pitch black, and I [didn’t] have my glasses on. But I could see this thing perfectly, standing on the ground at the edge of my bed.”

Recalling the exact details about the figure’s appearance, Melei said, poses a challenge, though one distinguishing characteristic seems unforgettable.

“It was a full person,” she said. “I can’t tell if it was a man or a woman. I have no idea. I just remember the smile. It was a huge smile.”

Her initial reaction involved more curiosity than fear, she said.

“I wasn’t scared when it happened, but afterward, I was freaking out,” Melei said. “From there, I never saw it again after that, but we always had weird experiences in our room.”

The format of her quad, she said, consisted of two rooms — one where all the girls slept and one where they could lounge around.

“There were so many times where we’d hear our entry door open and someone walking around out there, but no one was there, and our door was locked and everything,” she said. “It happened multiple times.”

Melei said she never considered moving out, since she didn’t feel threatened.

“I like ghosts,” she said. “I was like, ‘I hope it comes back.’”

And maybe it did. One of the girls Melei shared a room with that year, senior Melissa Lustro, now lives in the Annunciata section of Holy Cross Hall — the building’s fourth floor that is typically reserved for seniors.

“Sophomore year, we talked to the hall advisor, and she said that seniors have this man who would stand at their edge of the bed and kind of just watch them and do nothing,” Lustro said. “We thought that’s what happened with [Melei].”

Lustro said at the beginning of this semester, she was startled awake to an unexpected scene consistent with Melei’s description.

“I remember sitting up out of nowhere and just opening my eyes, and I saw a man standing there by my bed,” she said. “It was just kind of like a face.”

She fell back asleep right away, and after thinking about it the next day, dismissed the incidence as a bad dream. When history repeated itself, though, Lustro said she could no longer deny reality.

“I was probably asleep for an hour, and all of a sudden, my eyes shoot open again, and there’s a face right in front of me,” she said. “I just stared at it and didn’t really do anything. I remember it zooming backwards, and it went against my wall, and it stood there for a quick second and disappeared.”

This time, Lustro said her instinctual reaction was to try to determine the figure’s identity.

“I just remember turning on my flashlight and trying to look around,” she said. “I couldn’t really say anything. I didn’t scream. I just did the most simple thing.”

Though she could not locate the figure, this second appearance confirmed that what she had previously passed off as a dream was, in fact, a supernatural encounter.

“It was the same man with a smirk on his face,” she said. “That looks exactly like the man that I saw the other night, so it couldn’t have been a dream the other time.”

Lustro said she was more intimidated by the figure’s proximity than by its presence, since it did not inflict any harm on her.

“It worried me how close he could actually get, and it felt like he was kind of waking me up at the same time, but he didn’t really do anything,” she said. “I don’t get super bad vibes from it, but it’s still freaky.”

Lustro said she does not even need to see to believe in the existence of ghosts, since she constantly feels restless in her room.

“I remember the first day moving in this year, I felt kind of weird sleeping,” she said. “I never get a good night’s rest. I always open my eyes and look around and go back to bed. I even try taking naps during the day, and I could be lying down for two hours and not fall asleep.”

Her solution, she said, involves increasing the visibility of her natural surroundings to decrease the visibility of any spirits.

“Now, I’m sleeping with the lights on because I don’t want to see anything,” she said. “I don’t know what I’d do if I saw it again. Even though people have said before that this man — if it’s the same guy — doesn’t do anything, it still freaks me out.”

Even guests in her room have detected that someone else lurks in the space.

“They always feel kind of uneasy sleeping, just restless,” she said. “I think he is some kind of spirit. I kind of want to know why he’s there.”

Lustro said her firsthand experience with this spirit amplified her belief in the supernatural, she said.

“It makes me believe more of the paranormal stuff that goes on because you always hear these stories, and you’re kind of iffy about it,” she said. “I feel like just Saint Mary’s in general has a lot of secrets when it comes to buildings. Especially in Holy Cross, there are a lot of doors that are locked.”

Though she has no clue of the man’s identity, Lustro said she continues to reflect on the encounter and strategize for the future.

“I don’t want to do anything — even talk to it or tell it to go away because then … that might be inviting it in,” she said. “I don’t want to take any chances.”

Melei said students’ engagement with ghosts does not surprise her, since the College has such a rich, historical tradition and has served as home to many individuals.

“People have put so much energy into this place, and I think it was a valuable place to so many people,” Melei said. “So I think there are spirits.”

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About Martha Reilly

Martha is a senior majoring in English literature and political science. She currently serves as Saint Mary's editor but still values the Oxford comma in everyday use.

Contact Martha