Larry could be a pretty fun guy though completely weird. I soon learned about why people avoided him. He was more than just… not very bright. He was very stupid. I had wondered for a long time if there was something wrong in my mind for my forgetfulness but poor Larry… I wasn’t sure what was wrong with him exactly. One of the other ghosts said on my second night there that his ‘cookies’ were ‘burnt’, but I didn’t even know what that meant. He was a dark yellow ghost so he hadn’t died cause of being burned to death. I knew there was a saying about tossing cookies, but THAT didn’t make sense either, so I decided not to worry about it.
My second night–er, day in the small graveyard was spent more crying than sleeping. I kept thinking about William, and how much I desired to be in his arms again. Then the third day I cried and cried, and began punching the coffin I was in. I started cursing William for what he did to me. Then the anger really hit and I wanted to do something destructive so at night I went down to the stream and threw rocks into the water as hard as I could, screaming and wailing and finally falling down in more tears.
How could this have happened? Everything had been so wonderful. William, my knight in shining armor. I had thought we’d be together forever. Ohhhh Mira was so right. I was so stupid. Young and stupid. Young, stupid, and in so much pain. How could a dead person feel this much hurt? I wasn’t dead. I wasn’t living. I wasn’t anything but me. One of a kind freak. I belonged in a circus or something.
“Hey lil’ Chance-man.” I looked up as Larry came over. “You seem pretty ticked off. Tell me, what can I do to help?”
“Make the pain go away.” I hugged my knees tighter and rested my chin on my arms. “I had a relationship end before and it wasn’t like this. She was ok with it and I was ok with it, but this… hurts so much… I never knew anything could feel like this. I used to wonder if I could feel anything. Love. But I did. And it was stupid.”
“Naw man! Don’t EVER say that! Love is… the ultimate. I know you’ve been torn, but don’t ever give up on love. Love is pure, and free and… and free… and just… the best.” He threw himself onto the ground, running his hands through the grass. “Love is what you live for, man. It’s what everyone should live for. And die for. And live in dying for.” He then knelt next to me, peering at my face. “Ghosts, man, we can love and loving don’t ever stop. Don’t ever stop.”
“I have stopped.” I stood up in anger and he stood as well. “I was dumped. Thrown aside. The guy who said he loved me so much my soul reflected in his eyes dumped me. The guy who told me, who–who said, ‘Love lightens burdens and makes rough places smooth’ and–and– said, ‘it bears hardship as though it was nothing and turns bitterness sweet and acceptable’. HAH!” I grabbed a rock and threw it as hard as I could. It sailed over the water and bounced off the other hill. “FAT LOAD OF CRAP THAT WAS! He–he–the moment there was hardship and burdens and roughness, he turned tail and ran. He’s nothing but a coward!” I broke down into tears and Larry caught me in his arms. “Love sees nothing as impossible. Unless you’re different. It goes over any obstacle. Unless you’re different!” I sobbed onto his shoulder.
“Man. That’s a bummer.”
“A bummer?” I pulled away. “A bummer?! It’s–it’s–it’s more than a bummer! It’s terrible! It’s horrible! It’s gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, miserable, crappy, horrible–horrible–horrible!” I angrily wiped my face.
“WHAT?!” I gaped at Larry who was staring out from behind those stupid glasses. “Wh–what? What do you mean ‘why”?”
“Why’s it such a bum trip? Why’s it frosting you so much?”
“Okay, I don’t know what you mean by that.”
Larry sighed. “Why’s it upsetting you so much?”
“Do you NOT hear me? I was dumped!”
“Yeah, so? You were dumped. It’s not the end of the world, little man! I know it feels it. But if someone can’t see you for you, or love you for you, or all that… you know… man, they’re not worth the tears. Sounds like this guy was a real jerk. A phony. Tells you something and then flakes out on his own word. Why you crying over someone like that?”
“I love him.”
I pressed my hands against my chest and sniffled. “Yes.”
“He hurt you.”
I looked at Larry, at his sunglasses. “Yes…”
“In the words… of a smart man… you gotta give a little, and take a little, and let your poor heart break a little. That’s the story of.” He grabbed my shoulders and held me tight. “That’s the glory of love.” He then smiled, waiting for me to say something.
I pushed his arms off of me. “You’re a jerk. You know nothing. Nothing of what happened. William–he–we–I thought–…” I sighed and put my head in my hands once more. “But I thought wrong. Not the first time. Now I’m lost. Oh my Watcher, I’m lost.” I looked at the river then up at the graveyard, then at Larry. “My family, I don’t know where they are. I don’t know where I am. I’m so stupid! I should have stayed! I shouldn’t have left! I’m so stupid! I’m–“
“Little man! Stop going ape! We’re ghosts, man. No need to worry. Things will sort themselves out. You just need to relax. Stay calm. Go with the flow. And eventually you’ll flow to where you need to be. Home. Happiness. Love, again. The pain will be less. You can be happy again. You will be. I promise, man.”
“How can I be?” I whispered.
“Never doubt the power of love. That’s… the word of my lifestyle. Love. Love, man. Peace. Happiness. Free. But love. And you’ll find it again.”
“I don’t believe you.” I didn’t want to love again. Not if it ended up like this. Love was dangerous, and painful, and just… no. Not for me. No more love. I would just go back home and stay locked up in my room for the rest of my existence. A good little boy, doing what my sister and aunts wanted me to do. Locked up. Forever. Away from anyone and everyone and… That just sounded awful.
“Sorry, lil’ man. All I can say is you can’t be happy again until you’re ready to… just… break through the pain and put it in the past. And… breaking… through… and… yeah, man.”
I was angrier now. Angry because I knew he was right. But angry because I didn’t think I could. This pass of pain and misery inside me seemed like it would just stay with me always. How could anyone get over someone like William?
I stayed another night. During the day I was awake the entire time, staring at the coffin lid above me, thinking hard about everything. Where Sunset Valley might be, how to get there. The best thing to do would be to find other Wanderers. Or maybe just drift to the east and follow along the entire east coast. But the problem was even if I found Sunset Valley, how would I find home? I concentrated for ages but couldn’t remember exactly where Aunt Kaylee and Emma lived. What neighborhood. Landmarks. I could just wander the town for a long time and not know where I was until I stumbled on it.
And then what? My bedroom. Back to the old routine. Locked away, occasionally peeking out the curtains, never being able to really join in anything. Never free. I knew if I went back, it’d be more difficult to leave–if I ever wanted to leave again. What if I did?
Wanderer. That word sounded kinda nice. Being free. Doing what I wanted. And I was eighteen now. There was absolutely no reason to chain myself up again. Wanderer. I thought about my sister, my aunts, and my grandpas. I did love them. But I really didn’t want to go back. Not yet. I wanted some time to explore. Be on my own. Wander.
Free. I finally closed my eyes, and fell asleep, my decision made.
I spent a couple more nights in the graveyard, trying to learn to deal with the pain–it was a bit easier with other people around. Specifically, Larry. The other’s didn’t shun me for my friendship with a ‘yellow’ but I just felt a bit more connected with Larry. Maybe because neither of us were very smart, and because being around him made it hard to be sad with his crazy talk. He at least had me laughing sometimes, especially when trying to explain about all his metaphors and theories.
“Life… is like… an egg…” he explained one night. “If you mess with it too much it’ll break and totally become a disgusting…. uhhh… mess and… yeah, you get it? But if you just let it… sit there,” he breathed out in a voice like he was unlocking all the mysteries of the universe, “it’ll rot. You got to do something!”
“As a ghost, it is rather difficult,” I said.
“Aw. Bummer, man, yeah. I dig ya. I like life… sunny-side-up.”
“Because you always need to look on the bright side of things?” I asked, quoting something Aunt Kaylee sang a lot.
“Naw, man. Sunny-side-up eggs are delicious. But whoa, that’s totally like… wow. Heavy, man. Always look on the bright side. I like that. You’re beautiful people, Chance-man. Totally groovy. You and I, man. If we were alive we’d go far. We’d have a total blast.”
“Do you miss being alive?” I asked.
Larry just shrugged. “Can’t say, Chance-man. I don’t remember much. I was totally mellowed for the last few years of my life.” He sniffled. “I miss those things, man. Weed. Pot. LSD. All that crazy stuff, felt so good man.”
“Weed…?” I raised my eyebrows then indicated the graveyard. “Like, what’s in there? How can you miss weeds? I thought people didn’t like them.”
Larry burst into laughter and smacked my back so hard that I did fall over. “You’re a total gas, Chance-man! You’re ultimate! WEEDS man! Hah! I wish, man, if the graveyard had that, it’d be aaaaamazing. You dig? HAHAHA weeds, man. I love ya.”
I stood up, giving him a small smile, not getting the joke but shrugging it off. I felt pretty stupid when I found out the next night he was meaning drugs. I tried to explain to Larry but he just chuckled and told me he figured I was a ‘straight’ guy. Then I tried explaining no I wasn’t, since that was a term I did know but then apparently I didn’t since ‘straight’ meant someone who didn’t use drugs. Shortly after that, I found out how he died. He decided to share it with me because I was such a good friend and he begged me not to laugh. I promised not to, and he started talking.
“I had done different stuff, you know? I was still tripping over some effects and had a coupla different drugs and mixed them together, you know, for the TRIP, man… and got all hungry. I was real way out there past the edge of the universe. It was real wild, man. But yeah, I got hungry but I was real tired too and… well those don’t work well.” He bowed his head and sighed. “I decided to eat and snooze at the same time.”
“Ohh.” I wasn’t sure what the big deal about that was. He fell asleep on a sandwich? Next to some chips or something?
“Yeah. I drowned.”
I blinked and stared at him. “You… drowned…?”
“Yeah. I got some cereal, man. I filled that bowl up with milk and then caught some Zs right there with my head in the bowl.” He spread his hands out. “Big bowl. I woke up a little bit but was so out there I tried to swim. Didn’t work.”
My eyes went big. “Wow. That’s terrible. I’m very sorry… I never knew something like that could happen.”
“Me either, Chance-man.” He shook his head. “Thanks for not laughing, I really appreciate it. You really are a rockin’ person, you know?”
“Thanks…” How could anyone laugh at someone’s death even if it was ridiculous like that? I couldn’t imagine anyone being like that. Larry had died, there wasn’t anything funny in that. Well. A little bit. Drowning in cereal… but no, I felt so bad for him. “You are too. So… how come you’re… not blue? I’ve seen ghosts that have drowned.”
“Oh, err…” He rubbed his nose then gave a forced laugh. “Dark yellows, man, we die cause of… accidents…”
He let out a very loud sigh. “Stupidity! Okay, man? We’re ones who’ve died cause of stupidity. Knew this yellow once who had died cause he wanted to prove the windows in his office couldn’t break. Sosh got what he deserved, working for the man.”
When I went into my grave for the day, I covered my mouth and laughed for ages, unable to stop. I felt bad for laughing. I felt like a horrible, horrible person for laughing like this but I just couldn’t help it. I did like Larry and felt so sad he died. But drowning in cereal… wow. As he’d put it… that was the pits. Man.
On my final night there, I told Larry I was leaving and he nodded, telling me he understood and that I needed to continue on my journey of self-discovery. “Don’t let the man get you down, man.” Well that made no sense whatsoever. “You have great vibes, Chance-man. Don’t ever lose that.” Then he burst into tears and hugged me tightly. “I’m gonna miss you, man! I’m gonna miss you!”
“Sh–should I stay a bit longer?” I offered, awkwardly patting his back.
“Nooo!” he howled. “You gotta go do your own thing, Chance! A baby bird flying. Don’t crash, man. Don’t crash.” Then he pulled back, my shoulders in his grip. “And remember. Love, man. Don’t be afraid to love again.”
After he cried a bit more and I hugged him a couple times, I left. I felt pretty good about leaving. I knew I’d miss Larry, and the others, but… I was ready to go somewhere else. Not home, though. I wanted to go somewhere else. On my own terms. I just didn’t know where. Another graveyard, maybe. Or just somewhere else. A forest or something, away from prying eyes. Living eyes. I wouldn’t mind talking to other ghosts but I kinda felt like I was ready to be on my own.
I wandered for days, drifting here, drifting there. I found another graveyard in a small town and stayed there for a week. There was stationary inside the little church that stood beside the graveyard so I guiltily tore off a sheet and began writing.
Dear Miracle I know by now youv found Ive been gone and I dont know were I am really. I had to leav Apaloosa Plans. I becam very unhappy there. but I didnt want to return home, I have to be my own person. pleese understand. I will come back home one day but rite now I just need to be free. I know your guna be mad and probuble are looking for me but please dont. I love you very very VERY much and Aunt Kaylee and Emma and everyon please give them my love and please dont worry. Im guna be happy xploring the lands on my own. Love always Chance.
I took one of the envelopes and stuck the letter in then wrote on the front, Miracle Kaylee Emma Sebastion or Hal Danevbie in Sunset Valley. Then I wrote another note.
Pleese whuever finds this pleesepleesepleese mail it I have no money and need to let my familee know I’m ok. I would really be happy if you mailed this. Pleese. Chance.
Then I left it in the pastor’s office and left the graveyard and church, hoping that they’d mail it and it might find my family. I knew there was every chance it wouldn’t be mailed but I hoped someone would. The ghosts said the church was still used. I just needed to hope whoever found it would mail it. And that my family would listen.
She opened her eyes groggily at the sound of knocking, then reached over to grab the clock. 11:21am. Too early, she thought as she decided to go back to sleep. But whoever was knocking wouldn’t stop and then they rang the doorbell; feeling grouchy she swung her legs out and headed down the stairs. Aunt Emma was at work, and Kaylee and the littlest were out at the park so she was home alone. Her class started soon but she was feeling like skipping it. Professor Goldman was boring as boring can be. And he was such a jerk! So WHAT if her ‘b’ was not a small ‘b’? It was algebra! Her small ‘b’ looked like a ‘6’ so when doing that stuff she always wrote an uppercase ‘b’! No one else complained, and certainly didn’t take points off her stupid algebra test for a stupid thing like that, stupid Goldman…
“I’m COMING!” She reached the door and opened it up, glaring at whoever was on the other side. It was a young man, not too much older than her, looking very nervous.
He smiled, then blushed and looked down at his shoes. “Um, is, uh, a Miracle, Kaylee, or Emma Danevbie live here…?”
She realized why he was reacting like that. She was just in her pajamas. Feeling VERY awkward now, she resisted the urge to slam the door. “Can I help you? I’m Miracle. I prefer Mira though. Not many ‘miracles’ these days.”
He looked back up, meeting her eyes. “I wouldn’t say that, Miss. Plenty of miracles around. May I come in?”
“No, stranger danger. Hello. What can I do you for?”
“Oh! Um. My name is Elijah. Um, Elijah Baird.” His head was down again, his feet shuffling. “I’m from the Green Valley Watcher’s Love church…”
“Sorry, not interesting.” And she slammed the door shut. Where’s Green Valley? she wondered as she turned to walk away but the guy was knocking at the door again. Gritting her teeth, she opened the door again and held it wide open, making sure this dweeb got a good view of her nearly naked body. Maybe he’d be too embarrassed or something. He blushed and bowed his head low. “Mister, sorry, but I don’t go to church. I don’t believe in the Watcher. My aunts, however, belong to a local church and they love it there. So no, this door ain’t a good place for you to be–“
“Do you know a Chance Danevbie?”
Miracle stared in disbelief and felt the world spinning violently around her. No, she thought, feeling bile rising in her throat. “Oh Reaper no!” she squeaked without meaning to and then she fell to the floor, landing hard on her butt. “No, he’s okay, please say he’s okay, he’s okay!” she cried, fearing they had found his dead body–but he wouldn’t have a body. Or identification. Was he horribly sick…? But he had never been sick a day in his life! She felt hands pulling her up and then the guy supporting her, helping her to the couch. She sank down into the cushions, shivering.
“Ma’am, I’ve not met him but I can only assume he is okay.” Mr. Baird looked around then coughed. “Do you need some water…?”
“No. No. How did–where did–what the hell is going on?” She stared up at him, glaring again. As if he had done something to Chance. Maybe he did, she didn’t know. What if he had hunted Chance or hired hunters or something? “Did you hurt him?! How did you even see him?! WHAT DID YOU DO?!”
Mr. Baird seemed to be not at all phased by her yelling. “This should explain some of it.” He pulled an envelope out of his pocket and handed it to her. “You see, my father is the pastor at the church and a few weeks ago he found this sitting on his desk one morning. Out of no where. The church hadn’t been broken into or anything, we have no idea how it got there.”
Miracle looked very closely at the envelope, squinting. The return address was in a strange handwriting and it had ‘return to sender’ stamped on it. But the mailing address was scrawled in large, child-like letters that she knew belonged to Chance. She felt foreboding inside as she slowly opened the envelope, careful not to tear it. Mr. Baird spoke as she did. “We tried mailing it out, even without an address sometimes it will be sent. It got back to use very quickly. So my family and I talked about it, and decided I should bring it to your family.”
“Why?” she asked.
“It seemed to be an important letter. If… this Chance person… is out there alone at such a young age… a child… he needs his family, doesn’t he?”
“He’s not a child really. He’s eighteen.”
“Oh.” Mr. Baird looked genuinely surprised. “We thought he was… younger. His handwriting and spelling… ahh… never mind, my apologies.”
“He hated school and never studied.” She didn’t feel like getting her glasses so she held the paper close to her face. Chance’s writing was large enough that she could make out the poorly spelled words, and soon she was sobbing. She resisted the urge to crumple the paper up and throw it. “THIS IS A JOKE!” she screamed, leaping to her feet and shoving Mr. Baird back. “You–you did something to him and made him write this or–or–what–how can–Chance!” Then she fell against him, crying. Mr. Baird put his arms around her, holding her gently as she soaked his shirt with tears. “He went missing… not missing really but… he was living in Appaloosa Plains and we went to visit and he was gone and… we searched for him. But he’s not–he’s not–he can’t be–we couldn’t call anyone to help. He’s such an IDIOT! The stupid little… BRAT!”
“He’s your brother, I am assuming?”
“YES and he’s an IDIOT!” Now she was mad at Chance, for abandoning her like their father did. She wished he was there right now so she could shake him till his teeth rattled! Not that they would. “We’ll never find him until he comes back!”
“You can call authorities,” he said slowly.
“No! He’s a GHOST! We could only call GHOST-HUNTERS and they’d HUNT him and TRAP him or KILL him!” She folded her arms and stared hard at Mr. Baird, expecting him to say she was crazy.
Instead, he clasped his hands together. “Ma’am, perhaps you can find him. You never know. There are many out there researching those stuck in limbo who do not wish to harm them. You may be able to find someone willing to help you. I will do what I can. You have the address of the church and know that’s where he was last.”
“I don’t even know where Green Valley is,” she snarled.
“It’s a small town about half an hour north of Tessville. Which,” he added when she opened her mouth, “is two hours west of Riverview.”
Miracle rubbed her eyes, feeling ill. That was no where near Appaloosa Plains OR Sunset Valley. Riverview was pretty far from Sunset Valley. And it sounded like Green Valley was farther, and this was weeks ago. What if her brother was lost? Forever?