Author’s Note: Apologies for being away for so long. I went through a break up last week. I was the one who did it, so for the time before and time after I’ve not really been doing much for a while but hopefully now the chapters are published more often haha.
This was it. Moving day, in a sense. The day I left the house for a while–finally. Maybe for a long time. Maybe for longer. I was really scared and really nervous but also I felt so incredibly happy and excited. I was finally getting out of the house. I might MEET someone! The night before I could not sleep at all and Miracle and I stayed up late in my room, watching movies, eating popcorn, crying and laughing together. She finally fell asleep curled up on my bed and I remained awake until well after breakfast. I didn’t really feel tired at all but I went to sleep for a few hours to pass the time–after all, we couldn’t leave until after night.
I was bouncing off the walls for the rest of the day, unable to eat, unable to focus at all. I tried not to seem too happy since my aunts and sis were so obviously miserable but I couldn’t help it. Freedom, I could practically taste it. At dinner, I was the only one talking. Miracle and my aunts pretended to listen. They kept exchanging looks and giving sad sighs. I tried to be more serious and grim about the situation but I could not help it.
Then the minutes dragged on forEVER. I buzzed around the house like a fly, willing the sun to go down. Finally it did, and it was time to go outside for the first time in years. I stood by the door, sucking in great big gulps of air. “I’m ready,” I said. “I’m positive.” We were not going for the blanket thing. I was worried the neighbors might see and think they were carting a body off to bury. Miracle told me I watched too many horror movies and the looks on my aunts faces panicked me for a second. “H-horror movies?” I forced a laugh. “No way, I’m not allowed. Come on, get the suitcase.”
Aunt Emma brought in a large suitcase which I curled up in. I flashed them all a grin as the suitcase was closed, and concentrated the most I had in my entire life. The suitcase was picked up and carried out. It was put in the back seat and once we were outside the neighborhood, the suitcase was opened and I was allowed to sit up with a blanket around me. I peered out a fold so I could see the buildings and scenery go by. Miracle was sitting next to me, holding my hand under the fabric. I grinned at her then went back to looking. Soon we were pulling up to the graveyard and my ghostly heart was in my throat.
The graveyard, I thought, staring as the car parked outside the gates. It was closed at nine, and since it was almost ten there was no one around. I kept the blanket around me as we got out of the car, looking at the gates. Beyond the gates were ghosts. I could see them already. Three of them. Milling around. Ghosts. Real ghost. Like me. Ghosts! Okay not like me, but GHOSTS! People! People I could meet. I folded the blanket up and tossed it in the car then turned to say the goodbyes to the girls. First was Alyssa, pulled out of her car seat so I could hug and kiss her, then Aunt Emma, then Aunt Kaylee. Finally, Miracle.
“We’ll be coming back here tomorrow night,” she said, clutching my arms. “So you’ll be able to come home.”
“I won’t want to come home,” I said with a smile. I couldn’t even explain to her right now how incredible I felt. The night air against my semi-solid skin, the trees swaying in the breeze, the sight of the stars above me… it was so completely amazing. I felt like I could fly! So I could practically fly anyway but it was still… amazing!
“If that’s what you want to think,” Miracle said with a vague smile.
If that’s what YOU want to think, I thought, grinning back at her. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then, right? For a visit?”
“A visit,” Aunt Kaylee said. “Or, you know, picking you up.”
“Right.” I decided not to argue the point. “Then this time tomorrow. I love you. Bye Mira.”
“Miracle,” she said softly.
I hugged her tightly. “Miracle.” This was so weird, saying goodbye like this. I knew I’d see them soon and continue seeing them often but this was… just so weird. I hugged her again then stepped back. “Bye guys. See you tomorrow. Love you all. Have a great day tomorrow, sis.” I pat her arm then turned towards the gate. I could barely even breathe (not that it mattered). I looked past the bars at the three ghosts. I couldn’t make them out very well from here. I wondered who they were. I would soon find out!
“What are you looking at?” Miracle asked.
“Them,” I said, pointing. “The other ghosts. How do I introduce myself? I’ve never had to do that before in my life. Death. Whatever.”
“What ghosts?” Miracle stepped up beside me to look.
“The three ghosts. Two over there, one over there. Two are white, one is yellow. Why are they different colors? I’m a different color from them.” I looked down at my greyish body. “Does it matter that I look so different?”
“I don’t see any ghosts,” Miracle said. My aunts chimed in that neither of them could see anyone either. Then they all looked at me.
“Well, I do see them.” I started to float forward then paused. “You really can’t?” I asked and they shook their heads. “But… you see me. Is it because…” I trailed off, all sorts of questions going through my brain now. Was it because of my color? Or why? It was something maybe I’d find out. “Never mind. Bye guys. Love you!” I pushed forward, floating to the bars and then floating through. I looked over my shoulder at my aunts and sister standing by the car. Their eyes were huge and they all looked very sad. I waved at them then turned back round, and continued floating towards my new life–or rather, death. This was the start, and I knew that there was no way I was going back.
I floated in the same spot for a couple of minutes, taking it all in. A tear fell to the ground, splashing onto the path. I wiped my eyes and then began shakily floating forward. I really could not believe I was doing this, moving freely. Outside. I heard the car start and glanced back just very quickly. They were in the car but it wasn’t going anywhere. They were still watching me. I gave another wave then floated forward some more. There was some water in the middle of place and I could hear it rippling, and some fish jumping. There were leaves rustling. Two of the ghosts were talking, laughing. I took in an even bigger lungful of fresh air and then went over.
“Hi!” I said brightly and the two white ghosts turned to look at me. “Hello.” I waved happily. “My name is Chance. I–I’m new here.” They glanced at each other then back at me, silent. I began to feel nervous but realized they were both old. Maybe they were hard of hearing? “HI! MY NAME IS CHANCE!” I said very loudly. The yellow ghost turned to look while the male white ghost glared and the female snickered.
“We’re dead, dearie, not deaf,” she said. “We can hear you fine. Hello there. My name is Enola Green. This is Thomas Walsh. Welcome to Pleasant Rest.” She put her arms around me and hugged. I was shocked. I was not solid. But she was hugging me. When she pulled back she saw my face. “Is everything all right?”
“I–I can go through things right now but you hugged me,” I said hesitantly.
Enola laughed. “Yeah. Must be surprising to someone new like you. Ghosts can go through other ghosts. But as long as one is concentrating there can usually be some sort of contact. See?” She put her hand through my arm. “It’s a strange thing, I suppose. It takes a lot of getting used to. You’re a very new ghost aren’t you? So young.” She touched my hair and then smiled.
“Watch out, she’s gonna turn into a mother,” Thomas said.
“Oh, shush.” She smacked him, laughing. “So, Chance, do you mind me asking what you died of? I mean, I know you’re probably still new to all this but… it’s just unusual. I’ve never seen a ghost of your color before.”
“C-color?” I asked, confused. I held up my hands to look at the greyness.
“Yes. The color of a ghost indicates the type of death. For instance, white should be the most common color but actually it’s not too terribly common. White indicates old age. Most people who die of old age have made peace with their fate. The really pale, light yellow–” she pointed at the other ghost who was still watching us. “–means electrocution. What’s grey?”
“I…. I don’t know,” I admitted. They both exchanged glances again. “Um. I’m not sure really. I’ve been this way for… as long as I can remember.”
“As long as you…? Oh!” Enola covered her mouth. “Are you a Wanderer?”
“A wh-what?” I asked, more confused now.
“A Wanderer,” Thomas put in. “A roaming spirit. See, Enola, Anabelle and I are tied here. To our graves. We’re… what ghosts like to call… Sleepers. We stay at the place we’re put to rest. Then there are Holders. They’re the ones who stay at the place they die. Then… Wanderers.” Thomas pointed at me. “Spirits not tied to anywhere. Spirits who wander around, never tied down to any one place.”
“I… guess that’s me,” I said with a shrug. “Are there any other kinds? I heard there were ghosts that like to cause trouble or something.”
“Well, each kind has its own troublemakers,” Enola said. “There are Sleepers who like to cause trouble for people who come to graveyards. Holders that haunt where they die with a vengeance. And Wanderers who go around causing trouble for all sorts of places.” She pat my head. “Don’t worry too much about it. That’s just something for the Living to worry about. Not us.”
“The Living,” I echoed and she nodded. “They can’t see you, can they?”
“I’ve heard rarely there are some that can,” Thomas explained. “But usually they need those stupid detector thingamabobs. I don’t know. Kids today.”
“Speaking of the Living…” Enola drifted past me and put her hands on her hips. I turned and saw she was looking at my aunts’ car. “I bet it’s one of the Symps.”
“You guys have a lot of slang terms, don’t you?” I asked and widened my eyes at the stares I got. “What? What’s wrong? It seems like–“
“We have terms, yes,” Thomas said, one finger resting on my chest. “You’re a ghost too, even though you’re a Wanderer. Unless you think you’re above us.”
“Oh knock it off, Tommy!” Enola pushed his hand away and then began patting my head. “Poor boy here seems really new to this. He might have been wandering in places without ghosts. Don’t accuse him of anything. Just ignore him, sweetheart.” She was hugging me now. “It must be so strange to you.”
“Yeah, he seems a bit stupid.”
“Tommy!” Enola’s voice sounded a lot like my aunts whenever I was doing something bad like ignoring schoolwork. “Ignorance is not stupidity. Yes, sweetie, ghosts tend to have a lot of slang terms but you’ll pick up. They,” she said, pointing at my aunts, “are most likely Symps which is short for Sympathizers. They’re the type of people who pretend to sympathize with the dead. They often just watch places like this but sometimes they come in and breathlessly beg us to show ourselves, promising they won’t hurt us.”
“Especially lately, it’s gotten worse,” Thomas grumbled and he flipped off my family. “GO AWAY! Watcher, we’re not in a zoo.”
“Tommy, they can’t see us.”
“I know but still. Makes one feel like an exhibit. In my day we left well enough alone.” He spun around and floated over to a bench. “Dead were dead. That’s it.”
“You don’t sound like you’re from a much different time period,” I said, going over and sitting down as well.
“I died fifty-eight years ago,” he said, puffing out his chest. “Or fifty-nine. Not sure. One loses track of time easily. But you’ll find even ghosts from a thousand years ago talk a lot like you do. We just… pick up the language. How long ago did you die?”
I blinked and realized I didn’t exactly have an answer for that. “I dunno,” I finally said. “I’m not sure, really. Or–why I’m dead. I’ve always been this way. My daddy was dead, too. So I guess I just got it from him.”
Thomas snorted and Enola just smiled. “That… well, not to worry. Sometimes things are really hazy. I don’t remember much about before I died. I can’t remember the nursing home I was taken to. I think I died when I was eighty-eight, but… last I remember, I was eighty-two and meeting my great-grandson.” Enola smiled blissfully. “Such a lovely boy. My death was seventy-some years ago, though. He may have passed on by now. Hopefully, he truly did pass on and not hanging on like this.”
It got really quiet and I decided to let her ponder in silence. So I went over to the yellow ghost. She was floating over by some gravestones. “Is one of them you?” I asked, coming up beside her and looking at the names.
“Did I invite you over here, kid?” she asked and I shook my head. “Then scram.”
“Oh. Um. S-sorry.” I returned to the two older ghosts and Thomas made a face.
“Don’t mind her,” he said. “If you’ve not been around ghosts much, here’s a bit of advice: most ghosts are pretty bitter. She was electrocuted, she was just in her twenties. Anabelle… and many other ghosts… just are angry.”
“Oh.” I swung my legs, watching Anabelle. She kept drifting back and forth in front of the gravestones. I felt bad for her. “Are you angry?”
“Sometimes. When the Living bug us, I really am. Nola here, she’s never angry.”
Enola laughed. “I’m angry sometimes, Tommy. We all are. We’re dead.”
The night was wonderful. Perfect. One of the best nights of my life. I ran around the graveyard, arms out. I remembered when I was a little kid and we’d be outside. Daddy would pick me up… or Mama? I couldn’t remember. One of them did. My arms would be out and it’d be like an airplane. I laughed as I ran and ran and ran, my feet only sometimes hitting the ground. I talked to Thomas, and Enola, and then two other ghosts that showed up in the night. I climbed the trees and then decided to learn to swim. I phased out of my clothes except for something like swim trunks and I got in the water. The other ghosts just stared at me as I splashed around, laughing and giggling.
“I never learned to swim,” I said loudly when I realized every single ghost was watching. “I’ve always wanted to. Maybe now I can learn.” I beamed at them and they all turned away, shaking their heads. I just kept playing in the water and then suddenly the sky was getting light. The other ghosts were starting to disappear. I climbed out of the water, phasing into my regular clothes. I watched as everyone went into graves.
I went over to one and saw it had Thomas’s name on it. They were going into their own graves. I looked over at Enola who gave me a wave before she disappeared. I pressed my lips tightly together and then looked around. I should have thought of this sooner. Where to sleep. Hmm. What was the good manner thing to do? I went over to Enola’s grave. “Enola? Enola? Where do I go? I don’t know where I’m supposed to stay!” But there was no answer. She was asleep, or whatever it is we ghosts did during the day. I straightened up and drifted over to the mausoleum. I went inside and searched for a place to sleep. I found a room full of coffins and tombstones. The ones for sale.
Maybe just for today, I thought as I climbed into the coffin at the bottom of a pile. It was lined with something really soft and there was even a pillow. I stretched out and closed my eyes to sleep. Not as nice as my bed back home, but better perks when I was awake. I was just about to fall asleep when I had a terrible thought. What if I went not-solid in my sleep and rolled out of the coffin? And people saw? Well. I didn’t really need to sleep… though being awake all day in a coffin wasn’t exactly something pleasant.
I got out of the coffin and looked around, trying to figure this out. It was getting pretty light out so I really didn’t have much of a choice. I returned to the coffin and decided to ask Enola in the mor–er, night. I lay in the coffin for a long time and thought about things. Eventually I heard people walking around and muffled voices as there was talking. I heard someone crying, wanting a good tombstone for someone. I heard a coffin being moved and was worried mine might be moved. And then, I fell asleep.
When I woke up I was very confused at why it was so dark. I started to move and when my elbow bumped something, I turned not solid. I was just starting to sit up when I remembered. Coffin. People. Crap. I lay back down and stared wide-eyed at the darkness. I had no idea what time it was. Was I asleep for an hour or five hours? Was it noon, or midnight? I couldn’t hear anything but that didn’t mean the room was empty. I lay there for a while, and at one point I felt really strange. I decided it was because I was laying still for so long, though shortly after I did hear a clock strike ten. Ten PM! It had to be, it had to have been hours and hours, and not just a couple hours. I cautiously peeked my face out the side I thought the wall was on. Unfortunately, it was not the wall but the room; fortunately, the room was dark and empty. I slid out and stretched, grateful I didn’t feel aches and pains.
I looked out the window and saw it was very dark outside. I also saw a couple ghosts. Smiling, I floated out and was rather surprised to see already Aunt Kaylee and Miracle on the other side of the gates. I floated over, through the gates and greeting them with hugs. They were both very upset about something and it didn’t take long to figure out what it was. Apparently, I had somehow missed a night.
“When you weren’t here last night we were so worried!” Miracle said, smacking me. “How dare you do that!”
“No, it’s only the second night here,” I said. “You brought me here last night.”
“No!” Miracle grabbed my arm. “We brought you here the night before last. We came here last night to see you as promised.”
“Chance, what happened?” Aunt Kaylee asked. “We’ve been sick with worry!”
“I–I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened,” I replied honestly. “The only thing I can think of is I fell asleep for–for twenty-four hours but I don’t think I did. I don’t know. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
“Of course it won’t, since you’re coming home with us,” my sister stated.
I frowned at her. “Going…? No. I’m not going anywhere. I like it here.”
“Don’t be stupid,” she growled. “You hate it here.”
I folded my arms. “Now, when did I say that?” I asked which resulted in a major eye roll from her. “Mira, I like it here. I do. I–I don’t know what happened… with losing one night but I don’t care, the night I was wide awake here I loved it. I met some ghosts, and chatted with them, and I got to run, and splash in the water.” I turned to Aunt Kaylee. “I like it.”
“How can you like sitting around this drafty, dark, horrible place?” Miracle waved her hand towards the gate. “And what ghosts? Are there really ghosts in there?”
“Yes, there’s four now,” I answered, pointing them out. “One of them is Thomas, he was here las–er, the first night I was here. Then there’s Anabelle but I didn’t talk to her, she’s bitter. I don’t know who the other two are, but I am looking forward to saying hello to them and meeting them and talking to them.”
“We could move,” Aunt Kaylee said and I raised my eyebrows. “A place out of town, away from town. You could roam around at n–“
“But who would I talk to?” I cut her off. “You and Aunt Emma and Mira and Alyssa? Sometimes other members of the family? Could you do that? Never meeting anyone new? Never making a friend outside the family? I don’t want that.” I took her hands and sighed. “I appreciate the thought but no, besides. I know you and Mira. Neither of you could stand being away from town so much. And it wouldn’t help much at all. Maybe I will get tired of this after a week or a month, but right now I love it and–and feel completely miserable at the thought of going back. Please don’t ask me to. Please.”
I squeezed her hands and looked at my sister who seemed to be a mix of crying and anger. “I thought for sure you’d want to come back after the first night. Then you weren’t here and we were worried maybe you tried coming back on your own. But you didn’t… you like it here… you want…”
“Yes.” I put my arms around her and hugged tightly. “At least for a while longer. Please. Because you can’t make me go back. I’ll go not solid. I’m staying. Whether you like it or not, but I’d feel better if you didn’t mind.”
Aunt Kaylee rubbed her temples and I stared wide-eyed at her, waiting for her response. “One week, all right? And then maybe you should come back. We’ll come visit, okay?”
“Not every night,” I said, trying not to bounce up and down. I was so happily excited!!!! “Once, in the next week. Please? I don’t want to feel like a little kid needing checked up on. I’m fifteen. Cousin Sarah went to camp for a week when she was twelve, staying there without anyone checking up. And don’t say there were counselors because there are adults here, like Thomas and Enola and Anabelle and all the others.”
Aunt Kaylee looked ready to drag me kicking and screaming back to the house but she gave a tiny nod. “All right then, we’ll come see you in three nights. If you are not here, then forget the week. But otherwise. You will be coming home in one week.”
“Aunt Kaylee!” Miracle gasped. “You can’t be serious! He’s fifteen, he’s too young.”
“Three nights,” I said, clapping my hands then hugging my aunt, then my sister. “Don’t worry, Mirac–uh, Mira. I’ll be fine, really. I want this so much. I’m not in any danger, not anymore than I would be at home. And I want to stay.”
“I don’t like it but pfft, what choice do I have?” she grumbled, then spun around, storming over to the car. “He’ll be crying and begging us for his warm bed in three nights!” she called to Aunt Kaylee before slamming the car door shut.
Aunt Kaylee gave me one more hug. “You’ll want to stay more than a week, won’t you?” she asked sadly.
“Probably,” I answered. “I love it here right now. When that changes, I’ll come back. Just don’t… ask me to come back before I’m ready?”
“Mira will be mad.”
“I know.” I looked at my sister sulking in the car. “It will be all right though. I’m happy, Aunt Kaylee. Super happy. I want you guys to be happy, too, so don’t worry about me–just pretend I’m at sleepaway camp, like Sarah was. Okay?”
Aunt Kaylee grumbled but relented, giving me a goodbye wave as she went to the car. I waved at them and then turned to return to my new home.