Ghosts Of The White Oak River


I was raised in the boro where I hid in my own secret gardens of marsh and mud. Playing in the oak brushed motes of land that held deep imprints of Indigenous tribes, pirates, plantations, slavery, and war.

It was here where I would accrue stories. Real life fairy tales that would be the catalysts of who I am today. The story below is a recollection of my very first paranormal experience.

Not necessarily startled awake but my eyes crack open taking in the velvety darkness of the night. 

There is a pit in my stomach and a heaviness in the air.

Except, it wasn’t just the air…

There was a tangible weight pressing against my chest, holding me down as I lay flat on my back surrounded by the 4 walls of my wooden crib. 

Little did I know that in a few moments a core memory would be created. The first memory of many that would change the trajectory of my life forever. Experiences that would later take decades of talk therapy, somatics, and EMDR to neutralize the toll they had on my nervous system.

My childhood home (Swansboro, NC)

We lived in a small 1950’s Sears and Roebuck style cottage located on a narrow piece of land between two bodies of water. Three bedroom, one bath, with a freshly built extension on the back. The house was situated on a long skinny lot that backed up to the White Oak River, it was bright barnyard red, and just across the street you could see views of the intercoastal waterway.

My parents were newly married and money was tight but somehow they collected the deed to 159 cedar point blvd that read Brinkley above the title of owner.

You see my father could manifest anything he wanted, he was gifted in that way. So in the early 80’s a mother, a father, and 1 brother moved to a shack by the sea.

Then I was born. The fifth spoke to my mother’s wheel and my father’s first and only biological child.

Now I could eloquently paint an elaborate literary picture of the energetic texture of my childhood home but it would take too much time for today, so I digress.

But like a badly executed haiku I will share a taste, a sort of amuse bouche for your mental imagery palate. So, let’s take a journey:

  1. Death of children pain unspoken

Brackish water of caramel spirits

Hope present portals opened

Did it ever exist

2. Historical stories of natives living

Sun eclipsed always shining

Miracles are deeply treasured

Do your best to disappear

3. River hints of tragic knowings

Brave father monster ridden

Hidden mother never wavered 

I can find my way home

home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, building, dwelling, mansion, residence, shack, abode, castle, cave, den, digs, domicile, edifice, flat, habitation, homestead, joint, pad, residency, shanty, tomb

The view from our backyard (White Oak River, Swansboro NC)

I can’t move, I can’t scream, a primal wave of fear moves through my little body. As I take in my surroundings the only thing that is clear is a dark black figure standing over me.

Like literally standing over me.

Legs straddled on either side of my body with its feet firmly planted into the mattress. No eyes, no face, just a deep empty hole in the shape of a body.

Besides it’s diminutive gangally torso and extremities it was adorned with a large bulbous head that peered down at me as its crushing weight smothered out any calls for help.

My tiny soul knew this was not a human being nor human spirit and the malicious intent projecting off of this thing was palpable.

Then as quickly as it happened, I witnessed this entity slither through the railings of my crib and down to the floor. Just before it made its final descent an audible high pitched female cackle rang in my ears.


That sound, oh that sound. The sound of nightmares. A sound that would light up every fight or flight response a body can muster.

I look over to my right and watch this dark matter dart from below me and into the closet.

I finally take a breath and scream. I imagine the scream that came out of my body was a scream no parent wants to hear. I pull myself up to standing and wail at the top of my lungs for somebody, anybody to come and save me.

As my cries for help are echoed throughout the house my mother and brother run in to see the carnage.

I don’t remember much after that but according to my brother I was absolutely inconsolable. Hysterically pointing to the closet but unable to verbalize what I had just experienced.

They turn on the lights and search the room, coming to the determination that I must have seen a rodent run across the floor and that’s what had frightened me.

Rodent [ rohd-nt] noun; pest, vermain, spreads diseases

After a vigilant search for the source of my hysteria the perpetrator was never found and just like a rodent, it buried itself back into the walls of the house on cedar point.

More stories to come...

My brother & Me

Closing Statement

Honestly I never imagined sharing my personal stories in such a public way. The fear and vulnerability is real but I honor that this as an opportunity to continue my healing journey.

Thank you for taking this walk with me. Love, Barbara

  1. Amy says:

    Thank you for being vulnerable and brave in sharing an intimate, raw and formative memory through poetry and story. You are a gift.

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