"Horror stories are just stories made up to scare you." Grace declared.
I stood up on the hardwood floor. "Not all of them."
"Yes, all of them!" Grace insisted. "Haven't you read the books I gave in Library at school?"
"Yes, I've read them." I answered sullenly. "But they're not ghost stories. People being brutally hacked up into little pieces is not my idea of good reading."
"Not all the horror stories I've given you are about brutal murders." Grace retorted.
"Not all of them, but most of them are." I answered.
"So, what do you think about them?" Grace asked.
"I think the stories you give me are pretty scary." I answered.
"Have you ever watched a scary movie?" Grace asked.
"Once. Craig took me to see Phantasm." I said.
"That's where these creatures steal humans so that they can be used as slaves?"
"Oh, that one's a classic!" Grace frowned. "I thought you broke up with Craig."
"I did." I replied. "Nothing was right between us after the movie. Craig likes that kind of movie. I don't."
"I thought you liked horror!" Grace said.
"I couldn't go to sleep for two weeks after watching Phantasm." I explained.
"But--you tell scary stories." Grace stammered. "That's why I keep bringing you horror novels to read."
"The stories I tell, happen to be true." I replied softly.
"They are not!"
"They are so!"
"OK, let's try to be reasonable about this." Grace said. "What about the ghoul shape that appears on the door?"
We both sat down on the bed, and studied my bedroom door.
"But you've seen the ghoul shape on the door before--the last time you slept over." I objected.
"Just look at the door." Grace commanded.
The door looked ordinary. It was made of wood that had been painted white, and had a brass colored door knob.
"Did it ever occur to you that the ghoul shaped thing that appears on your door is just your imagination and a poor paint job?"
I carefully studied the even coat of white paint on the door.
"There is nothing wrong with the paint job." I answered. "Dad painted it himself." Dad was an excellent craftsman. He had built my bedroom. The bedroom was beautiful. It had hardwood floor. A built in desk, with a cupboard underneath to keep things in, was in front of the window that I could look out through and see the back yard.
"If you use your imagination you can see the shape of the ghoul thing even though it is in the middle of the day."
I stared at my bedroom door. Slowly the shape of almost a man started to form in the woodwork. "Yes, I can make out the shape of the ghoul thing."
"It's just your imagination." Grace said calmly.
"Can you see it too?" I asked.
"Yes. It is only because we want to see it. The figure on the door is only your imagination." Grace said.
"And we're seeing this because we want to?" I asked.
"But what about the old man who I've seen watching me from my bedroom window? The one I told you about, when I'm in the yard playing?" I asked.
"There really never was a old man at your window." Grace explained.
"No?" I glanced at the door. The ghostly figure had dissolved back into the woodwork. "How come every time I brought a group of kids from the street to see the ghost in Dad's attic, a shadow appeared, and everyone ran? They all thought they saw the ghost."
"That's the same as the ghoul on the door." Grace answered.
"OK, OK, we expect to see the ghost in Dad's attic, so of course we see what we expect to see." I sighed. "Your probably right."
"So we agree." Grace said. "There are no such things as ghosts."
"Agreed." I said. Grace followed me out of the bedroom.
Dad collected old radios. A few were from the twenties. Most of the radios were from the forties. They laid in their wooden boxes in no particular order in the room outside my bedroom.
Some of the radios were missing half their tubes, and wouldn't work even if they were plugged in.
As I closed the door behind us, Dad's radios lit up. The dial lights illuminated. All the tubes glowed red. Twenty different stations crackled and competed with each other.
Grace looked at me. I stared back.
"Can we go now?" I asked.
"Yes." Grace replied. We hurried downstairs.