Since an early age, Virgil had been fascinated by ghost sightings. He had read all the books, watched all the videos online, and even emailed with a few purported ghost hunters since he was old enough to type.
He had been so obsessed throughout his youth that he neglected any sort of social life. It’s not that he lost friends, he just never really made many. Those that did, more often than not just waved off his eccentricities as a mere hobby or quirk. They were content with having him as their one ‘off’ friend; Virgil didn’t mind either way really, he never put much value on community.
Virgil used to pretend that he had seen ghosts, inventing stories from details he had read about in other people’s stories. They sounded real—as real as they could—but even though he repeated them often in an effort to be recognized, he never really believed them.
His first true encounter was when he was fifteen. It was entirely by chance, and not really in an environment that he would have expected to see anything paranormal. He had been sitting at the kitchen table one morning, gazing out the window, when out of the corner of his eye, he saw an adult figure walk by, open the pantry door, and step through. His first assumption was that it was his father, but when no one came out of the pantry, he walked over to the door and opened it. When he saw that there was nobody inside, the hair on the back of his neck stood on end. He knew that he had seen something different.
After that encounter, he became truly a believer, and delved into the subject even more than he had as a child. Unfortunately, none of the other so called ghost hunters or people who had “seen” ghosts, could convince him of their own experiences. They always told of vindictive spirits that knocked things off the shelf.
Virgil continued to see the strange figure in his house over the years. Sometimes it was just in passing, or out of the corner of his eye, and sometimes the figure was clearer and appeared directly in front of him as a young man. He even waved once at him, or so Virgil thought, and so he waved tentatively back.
When Virgil was twenty-one, he moved out. He never saw a ghost again.
Until one day, thirty years later, he was reading an article about a ghost encounter at his childhood home. The house had changed hands a number of times since he grew up there, and he had no idea of who the current owner was, but here was a first-hand account of a similar experience.
Virgil’s interest was piqued. He reached out via email to the author of the article and organized a time to meet and talk about their shared ghost encounter.
That Saturday, Virgil sat across from Alex, the twenty-five year old man who had just inherited his childhood home from his parents. They had passed away a couple of years earlier. Alex explained to Virgil that the first time he had seen the “ghost”, he had assumed that it was one of his parents, but as his own encounters had increased in frequency, he started to see it more clearly. It had taken the form of a young boy, and didn’t do much in the way of what ghosts were assumed to do; just sat, or walked around. One time, Alex recalled, the ghost had waved to him after he had tried to get its attention.
That was when Virgil sat up straighter. He had dismissed Alex’s stories of a young boy, since his own father had been the first person to live in the house, and he himself had been the only boy in it (to his knowledge). The ghosts couldn’t be the same.
But the story of the boy ghost waving back, triggered a memory for Virgil. He recalled the encounter to Alex there at the same table he had sat at the first time. Alex confirmed where he had been standing when the event happened, and Virgil described where he had been sitting. The stories matched up.
A spark of a theory had begun to catch in Virgil’s mind. As he talked and compared encounters with Alex, he only seemed to build on his theory. While most of the stories from the two of them didn’t match up as perfectly as the “wave” did, they all seemed to be things that both Virgil did around the house as a boy, and Alex did around the house currently.
Virgil recorded the rest of the conversations he had with Alex, and reached out into the community of paranormal experiencers. Weeding out the attention seekers and “professional” hunters was difficult at first. Only when he decided to focus on encounters that seemed to be only in passing, and ones that repeated in certain ways, did he start to put together his established theory.
Years later, he tried to convince the community of his findings, using tomes of research and eyewitness accounts; he even recorded in audio experiences that matched up perfectly. But to no avail, the narrative of ghosts as vindictive spirits was too deeply engrained in the common imagination.
He posited that there were no ghosts at all, for all anyone could prove definitively, when people died, they stayed dead, and didn’t come back to “haunt” anyone. Instead, any and all true observances of apparitions could be explained by the observer having one of two gifts: either the gift of Foresight, or the gift of Hindsight. Virgil’s establishing experience was that of his and Alex’s shared observances. Virgil, being the one gifted with Foresight, was observing Alex, some thirty-five years in the future, going about his daily business. Alex, the one gifted with Hindsight, was conversely observing Virgil as a teenager, doing the same. The only reason that they could see each other, was because they had the exact opposite gifts, something that Virgil explained was very rare, given his extensive research.
Alas, despite the verity of his theory, Virgil passed away without any official recognition of his discovery. He was never heard from—or seen—again.