My roommate was at first hesitant to tell me her ghost story, but once she started, she did so with enthusiasm. We were sitting at the table in our living room having dinner when she finally agreed to tell me about her supernatural experience. Of course, the lights were dimmed before hand to achieve an appropriately scary atmosphere.
“A couple of years ago in New Westminster, on 12th street, there was this 13 year-old girl who was living with an abusive foster family. She had tried to run away a couple of times, but the people she was staying with would call the police each time and they would just find her and bring her back. No one believed her when she said that they were hitting her and stuff.
Eventually, she committed suicide by riding her bike into oncoming traffic. They say you can see her ghost in a red hoodie when you drive by there sometimes. A guy once supposedly saw her heading right at him, but he didn’t have time to stop or swerve, so he just drove right into her. He went right through her like she wasn’t even there.
I’m not saying I saw her or anything, but this one time, I was in the car with my mom, and we were driving down the street, and I saw this girl in a red hoodie riding a bike towards us on the opposite side of the road. I couldn’t really see, but from where I was it looked like her face was totally messed up; she was all white and she like had no nose. She passed by us, and I turned around in my seat to look back at her, but she wasn’t there anymore.”
When asked if she really believes that the 13 year-old girl haunts the street she died on, my roommate remains adamant that she’s simply saying she saw something that resembled what the legend says the ghost looks like, and refuses to explicitly state that she either saw a ghost or believes in them. Still, it is interesting to note that this is the story, along with her own personal account, that she volunteered when asked for a ghost story.
My roommate is from Vancouver and says that this story is a favorite among local high school students living near the area. The story about the girl committing suicide was apparently on the news in the weeks that followed her death, and according to my roommate, sightings of her ghost by friends at school followed shortly in the months that passed and were extremely common the spring of 10th grade, a little over two years before she recounted the story to me.
In my roommate’s opinion, the meaning of the story is clear. The girl should not have killed herself, and the fact that people claim she’s now stuck on earth as a ghost reflects the societal disapproval of her actions. More than that however, she believes that the story resonates with so many young adults because, at its core, it is the tale of someone who was their age when they made the grave decision to take their own life. Turning the incident into a ghost story provides a way of discussing that very serious issue in a manner that is considered more casual to talk about, and can sometimes even be entertaining, which might make young people feel more at ease as opposed to a somber conversation.
I think the story is interesting because it perpetuates the common ghost story motif of spirits being created out of traumatic deaths, and the aspects of the abusive foster family and no one believing or helping the girl also add to the idea of a wrongful death. That the girl was a child being mistreated makes her one of the many ghosts that was created out of someone who was disempowered while they were alive. Though she may have been powerless to escape her aggressors while living, in death as a ghost, she is able to bring fear to people regardless of what control they might have had over her while she was living.