I wrote this story for an event we hosted with our Rockstar Moms group at the beach. I combined old fisherman's tales, added some elements of truth for mystery and wonder, and set the story in the exact place that we held our event... my home beach, at the fishing pier.
Our story begins on a dark, stormy evening many, many years ago on this very beach...
Brother and sister, Matthew & Sarah walked down to the fishing pier to watch the violent storm waves. This storm was reported to be the first of a double header. The word around town was that this small storm was to be followed just 1 day later by a much larger, more ravenous hurricane.
The clouds blanketed the setting sun, the fog lay thick across the sea. The waves raged violently, crashing against the fishing pier with great ferocity.
Suddenly, a large flash lit the entire Summer sky, followed by a loud crack of thunder. The thunder made Sarah jump out of her skin. She jolted her head up and through the rain and the lightning, she thought she saw something glowing at the end of the pier. She wiped the rain from her brow and looked out to the light.
It was a soft, purple glow, unlike anything she had seen on the pier before. Sarah had been here hundreds of times before, and had never seen anything like that. Something was strange.
She stopped and grabbed Matthew’s shoulder. “Matthew, look!” she exclaimed. Matthew looked up and squinted his eyes. “What is that?” he said.
The two walked slowly out toward the end of the pier. The closer they got, the more they felt drawn to the glow. The siblings came to a locked gate.
Sarah grasped the cold metal fence and peered through. She realized that what she was looking at was not just a glow, but a glowing figure. The figure was that of a young girl in a white nightgown.
“Let’s get out of here!” Matthew exclaimed, grabbing his sister’s arm.
The pair turned and ran down the pier, back to the beach. Faster and faster they ran down the slippery pier in the pouring rain, thunder and lighting crashing above them. Turning around to see if the glow was following her, Sarah tripped. Her brother hurried over to help her up and when they looked back, the figure was nowhere to be found
Sarah and Matthew sat trembling by the fire at the home of their friends Anna and James. Anna wrapped a wool blanket around Sarah and matthew. “So tell me what happened, Sarah”, she asked, deeply concerned for her friend.
“The… she … there was a glow, and a girl, and it’s… it’s..” Sarah’s voice shook, as she turned pointed, toward the pier.
“So you saw a young girl glowing on the pier?” said James “It’s such a terrible storm, you can hardly see anything. You probably just---”
“I know what you’re going to say, James but yes, we did!” Matthew bellowed. And I know how it sounds, but it was as real as my hand! She wore a white nightgown and I don’t know where she came from, who she was, or what she wanted. But I know she wanted something. She reached her hand out to us and she looked so desperate. I-”
“Wait” Anna said with a fearful look in her eyes, “You said it was a girl in a white nightgown, who reached her hand out to you?”
“That’s right. What’s wrong, Anna? Have you seen her before?” Sarah said, desperately hoping that Anna would be able to explain the paranormal experience.
“No I haven’t. But I remember my Grandfather telling me when I was a very little, an old fisherman's tale of the ghost of a young girl, being seen at the end of the pier. I remember him saying that she was said to be reaching for something. I can’t remember all of it, but I know that it was a local tale.”
The friends looked at one another. James swallowed. “Who would know about this story?” The group sat in silence thinking.
“Mrs. Winterbury at the library,” said Sarah, “She knows every story about this island.”
The next day, the group met at the library. Old Mrs. Winerbury sat behind the desk. She lowered her glasses and looked at the children. “Well hello children”, she whispered, “How may I help you today?”
“Hello, Mrs. Winterbury… have you ever heard any fisherman’s tales of the ghost of a young girl on the pier? One in a white nightgown?”
Mrs. Winterbury's eyes widened and her brow lifted. She stood up from her desk, and summoned the children to follow her. Curious, the children followed Mrs. Winterbury down a long, aisle of old, worn books. She came to a ladder, leading to a small cutout in the ceiling.
“Come with me, children”, she said “I think I know just the tale you’re speaking of.”
The children climbed up the ladder into the cutout, where they discovered a loft with long rows of books, dimly lit by a small table lamp, that sat upon an old desk. Mrs. Winterbury browsed through the shelves, before stopping in front of a large, dusty, old book. She retrieved it from the shelf. It hit the table with a loud thud.
Flipping through the book page by page, the children noticed that there were old newspaper articles glued to the pages of the book. They glanced at one another, unsure what they were about to uncover. Mrs. Winterbury came upon an article and paused, drawing her finger down line by line. She flipped through page after page after page. The headlines were startling.
“Fisherman sees ghost of young girl during Hurricane.” “Ghost of Young girl seen off pier” “Ghost child is spotted again” “The Cambridge Ghost seen by fisherman for the first time in ten year”
“Well children”, Mrs. Winterbury said, “This ought to keep you busy for a while. Just remember to put the book back when you’re finished.”
As Mrs. Winterbury left the children and climbed back down the ladder, the four friends combed through the articles, one by one. They came upon a headline that caught their attention: “Paranormal expert says ghost girl is victim of New England Hurricane of 1938”.
The article told of the various paranormal sightings at the end of the pier during particularly bad storms. The expert detailed his theory of the ghost being that of a young girl who had gone missing in 1938 during a brutal hurricane, which pounded the coastline with 100 mph winds, destroying among other things, the Brigantine bridge, and half of the crops offshore.
James picked up the book and read aloud to the group, “Nearly 700 died in the Great New England Hurricane. One particular vessel capsized, just off the coast, close to where the fishing pier currently stands. The ship had set out to rescue a small fishing vessel, but the raging sea consumed it almost instantaneously. The current pulled the entire crew out to sea. They didn’t surface until days later, along with a young child, the daughter of the rescue boat’s Captain, Captain Schoen. Captain Schoen’s daughter was found floating in a…..in a….”
James looked at the other three in silence. “A white nightgown.” He continued, “Rachel Schoen was 9 years old. How or why the girl drowned remains largely unknown. ”
James stopped reading.
“Wait,” Anna said, “Do you suppose Rachel Schoen is the daughter of Ms. Shoen, the teacher??”
“I don’t know”, said Matthew, “but we’ve got to find out! Let’s go!”
The friends ran as fast as they could to Ms. Schoen’s home, a beloved elementary school teacher. They told her they had questions about Rachel, and she invited them right in, and offered them tea by the fire.
“I remember it like it was yesterday”, she said, tears filling her eyes, “The weather was so frightening, but Captain Schoen was a hero. Always the hero. He was notified that a small fishing vessel had trouble getting into shore, so he rallied his crew for that final... fatal...rescue. Rachel was so terrified. She didn’t want him to leave in the storm. She was so upset, she forgot to give him her beloved Mr. Bunny, which she sent with him on every trip for good luck.”
Ms. Shoen stood up and walked to the window, as tears ran down her face. Gazing out of the window, she continued, “I told her...I… I told her not to run out that door. I told her that he would be okay. She ran up to her room, weeping. I didn’t know it at the time, but she must have climbed out the window to bring him Mr. Bunny. She…. I didn’t know…. I just didn’t know.”
Matthew handed Ms. Schoen a tissue, as Sarah and Anna comforted her. “I’m so sorry, Ms. Schoen”, Sarah said, “Did they ever find Mr. Bunny?”
“They did. He was found on the pier actually. No one knows exactly what happened, but I suspect that she slipped off the end of the pier, waving to her father. Mr. Bunny is old and dirty now, but he’s here.” Ms. Schoen retrieved a box from a back room and revealed a small stuffed rabbit
Sarah, Matthew, James, & Sarah looked at one another. They knew what Rachel wanted.
“We would like to create a memorial for her on the pier, Ms. Schoen. She deserves a memorial...and so do you”, Matthew said, “May we place Mr. Bunny at her memorial? I think she would love that.”
Ms. Schoen, delighted by the purity and empathy of the children, handed them the old, dirty Mr. Bunny. The children thanked Ms. Schoen and they headed out the door.
“Perhaps you should wait on that memorial children. You know there is a hurricane coming, and it is just about to make landfall. Go home and wait out the storm!” Ms. Schoen called out, as the group left.
“Sure will, Ms. Schoen,” Anna called.
The sky darkened and the friends ran as fast as they could toward the pier. They knew exactly what they had to do.
Flashes of lightning lit up the sky, and the entire space was filled with loud cracks and booms of thunder. The waves raged toward the pier, and in the distance, they began to see it…. A purple glowing light.
They ran, faster and faster toward the light, Mr. Bunny in hand. They got to the chainlink gate. Sarah looked at the friends. “I know what to do”, she said. She climbed over the fence and raced toward the very edge of the pier.
“Rachel, wait!” she shouted! I know what it is you want! You wanted your father to have Mr. Bunny! You won’t rest until you he does!
The ghastly, glowing little girl stared at Sarah. Her melancholy face transformed into a smile, a single tear falling from her eye.
Rachel reached her hand out toward Sarah, as Sarah handed the stuffed bunny to the ghost. Rachel clutched the bunny close to her heart and closed her eyes.
“He’s with you now, Rachel. You can finally rest in peace. Your father is waiting for you.”
Rachel reached out her hand and touched Sarah’s cheek. Her hand was warm and gave Sarah a sense of comfort. Slowly, the ghastly, glowing figure began to fade away, clutching the old worn Mr. Bunny.
For years after the encounter, the children would watch every coastal storm from the pier, hoping to catch a glimpse of Rachel, the ghost of the Captain’s daughter, but to no avail. For no one has seen the ghost of Rachel Shoen since.