A Winter’s Ghost Story

This isn’t an original story, but it’s one I wanted to share anyway. I heard this story when I was in elementary school. One day my school brought in a story-teller (no idea why) to come and tell us some folk tales. The teachers shepherded all of us into the gym, where we sat and listened to this man spin stories for us. He told several, but I only remember this one. I’m not sure why this story stuck with me like it did, but it has been with me for twenty years now.

The story goes something like this:

cold snow black and white road
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

One winter a young doctor moved to a small town out in the country and set up a practice. A few weeks after he moved to town, the first big storm of the winter blew into the area. The wind howled like a wild animal as frozen white flakes cascaded down from the sky. Cyclones of white whipped up and swirled all over the roads, reducing visibility to near zero.

The doctor finished his work for the day and fought his way home through the storm before settling in for the evening. Looking out the window, he breathed a sigh of relief at being indoors and not in the maelstrom outside. Then, just as he is about to turn out the lights and crawl into his warm, safe bed, the doctor hears a quiet knock at his door.

He pauses, thinking at first that he is hearing things. Who on Earth would be out in this storm? But a moment later there it was again, a timid little rapping at his door. Puzzled and mildly alarmed, the doctor walks over and pulls open the door to see a little girl standing on his porch.

She was probably, oh, eight years old, and wearing a lovely blue coat with white fur trim. The young girl stood there shivering in front of the doctor, her little face turned up toward his pleadingly. “Please, you have to hurry. Mama, she’s sick, please, you have to help her!” The doctor asked the little girl where she lived, then told her to come inside and wait a moment. He quickly changed his clothes and grabbed his satchel, but when he walked back into his entryway she was gone.

With horror the doctor realized she had gone on ahead of him. Frantically, he jumped in his car and crawled his way into town, scanning for signs of the little girl along the road. Several times he got out and called for her, worried sick at the thought of a child out in weather like this, but he couldn’t find any trace of her. Eventually he made it to the house, hoping she had beaten him there. The doctor walked up and knocked at the door, but there were no lights at the windows, and no one came to answer him. He tried once again, and when he still got no response he twisted the knob and found the house unlocked.

Inside the doctor indeed found a very ill woman who probably wouldn’t have survived the night without treatment. The doctor worked quickly and was able to stabilize her, and after a while she woke up. She looked at the doctor with surprise. “Thank you for coming and helping me,” she said. “But, how did you know I was ill?”

The doctor replied, “It was your daughter, ma`am. She came and told me to come here.” But the woman shook her head. “My daughter? That can’t be right; my daughter died three years ago.” Her eyes took on a distant quality, no longer seeing the doctor sitting in front of her. “There was a terrible snow storm, the wind blew like crazy, kicked up the snow until you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. She went outside to bring the dog in. I told her to put on her coat, but she yelled that she would only be a minute and ran out the door without it.”

Tears ran down the woman’s face and her breath caught in her throat.  “She got lost in the storm, and that was the last time I saw my baby alive.” She put an arm over her eyes, and with her other hand pointed to a closet in the far corner of the room. “Her coat is still hanging there, exactly where she left it.”

Slowly, the doctor stood. His heart pounding, he walked in a daze across the room and opened the closet. There, hanging right in the middle, was the little blue coat with white fur trim. The doctor reached out a shaking hand and gingerly ran his fingers down the sleeve, finding it still damp from the melted snow.

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