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  • Ben Tobin

The Woman in White



“Did you see Marion?”


That’s not a question that would normally strike a chord of fear in me. I’ve known a few Marions in my life, and none of them have caused me to question the nature of my reality––or my sanity. This Marion happens to have died in 1942 in my house. That sets her apart for sure. I can still see her eyes if I think about the phantasm at the threshold of my closet. There was something truly intense about those eyes. The exact color escapes me, but they jabbed and pierced me the three nights I saw her.


Marion first appeared to me two summers ago. I thought at the time I was dreaming. My room was the same. It was dark, but light enough to see everything. There was an orange glow coming from the hall. I mostly remember the woman, standing at the foot of my bed. She was thin and gaunt with unkempt, greying hair and she wore a loose fitting, old-fashioned, white night shift. Her hands were at her sides, and she simply stared at me, unblinking, for what felt like hours. After the third day of this experience, I decided I didn’t want to know anything more. I was afraid I’d find something unnerving. Even though this specter never spoke, I woke up on the first day knowing her name was Mary.



I remember listening to NPR one day, and hearing a woman talk about how we attribute natural phenomenon to the supernatural, and make meaning out of disparate elements to create a narrative to make sense of things that don’t make sense. It is how mythologies were birthed and formed. She also described how the fear of the number thirteen leads inevitably to a self-fulfilling prophecy. We expect something bad to happen, and so it does. She used a term that I can’t remember. I don’t even know where to begin finding the word. I was reminded of that word whatever it is.


I didn’t think about Marion again for several months. I made a short, period film involving a ghostly woman in white in the fall, but the connection didn’t occur to me.



I didn’t see Marion again until I was laid low by COVID. I shifted rooms so as to stay well away from everyone else in the house. Naturally, the entrance to the attic is in this room. The “creepy factor” was dialed up a notch. The first night in quarantine, I saw her again––and then again the next two nights. Just as before she was watching me calmly from the threshold of the closet. Barefoot. Pale. Staring.


The film features a woman in white as well, but it leans decidedly more toward certain horror cliches. I consider it more of a sketch than a completed film. I think one day this will yield a more substantial and fleshed out piece. I did also produce an ode to Marion very late at night around the same time I was rotoscoping the ghost in the film and making her transparent. In the film she ends up being more of a sinister figure, and the actor playing the haunted person ended up having something of a ghost hunter vibe. We filmed in Emily Dickinson's brother's house...which was very spooky indeed. Given this was a brief sketch and I didn't have the time or resources to make a full blown short, it just ended up being a fun little no-budget tinker with atmosphere and practicing my cinematography and After Effects.




Thanks to Nate Ruth for being willing to put on a vintage costume to play our ghost hunter. I know one day he'll be a famous actor and or artist.





And of course Kt Baldassaro for playing the entity




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