A Snowy Morning

This may or may not be a ghost story. I honestly don't know. But I'll tell it as best as I'm able to remember and you can decide for yourself.

My second semester at Syracuse University, I met a guy named Patrick. We sat next to each other in Spanish class, and though I wouldn't say we were friends exactly, we talked before and after class. Patrick was in a wheelchair. He'd been paralyzed in a rowing accident his junior year of high school. He seemed to have a great attitude about his disability, but as the semester progressed and I got to know him better, I realized it was a front. Patrick was actually depressed and quite bitter about his situation, and I can't say I'd have done better in his shoes.

After the semester ended, I used to see Patrick around campus - he was easy to spot from a distance, and we'd always wave or call out a quick greeting. I had this vague plan to visit him one day and catch up, but I never did. Then I read in the campus newspaper that Patrick had fallen out the window of his high-rise dorm room and died. He was doing 'shrooms when it happened, and he was alone.

Months passed, then years. I was in my last year at UB, working at the campus magazine one winter morning. I left the office at about 3:30 a.m. and started walking home. It was cold and clear, but snow had fallen, and the campus was quiet. There was no sound; the snow was soft and my footsteps were silent. I rounded O'Brian Hall, and as I did so I suddenly had an unobstructed view of lawn stretching down to Main Street a hundred yards away. I stopped in my tracks, only a few feet from O'Brian Hall, because down on the sidewalk along the street was a man in a wheelchair, and while I was too far away to see his face, his profile and bearing looked just like Patrick. I had barely completed this thought when he turned his chair toward me and held up his hand in a silent wave. I looked at him for a few seconds then ran back around the corner.

I've thought about this a lot in the years since, and I'm convinced there's no way he could have heard me walking or seen me huddled in the shadow of a building at 3:30 a.m. from so far away. Yet he turned to me, the only other person in sight, and waved. I don't know if this is a ghost story or not, but it sure felt like one when it was happening.

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