After the note disintegrated I decided to ignore it and go to sleep. As soon as my heart had stopped beating at five hundred beats per hour, that is. Part of me wanted to run down to my aunts and ask them about the note, drink Wilda’s night time tea and feel the warm comfort of, well, human beings! But I was tired to my bones and figured that whether I liked it or not, ghosts would pop in to see me unannounced for the rest of my life. I just hadn’t realized they’d leave notes as well! Who knew? Ghost letters!
Once I’d calmed down (and shouted into thin air that I wanted to be left alone), I fell asleep. Sadly, ghosts didn’t seem to care about sleep either, because after what felt like no time at all I was awoken by a howling sound.
Startled I sat up in my bed. Had I just dreamed about a noise that woke me up? I looked around in the darkness, trying to orientate myself. But no, there it was again — the sound of a woman crying.
“Who’s there?” I asked.
“It’s me,” a voice replied, the words accompanied by heavy sobs.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“S-sally,” the sobbing ghost lady replied. Like Mr Crinkle she was invisible and I was talking into thin air.
“If you don’t mind me asking, why are you crying in my room in the middle of the night?” I was quite put off by this lack of respect for my beauty sleep, but then I felt remorse as I realized there must be a reason for her crying her eyes out (well, not literally as she didn’t have any) and added: “I mean, is there anything I can do to help you?”
“No, no,” Sally replied. “I-I just didn’t want to be alone. I know you are sleeping, it’s just…I feel so alone sometimes. Other spirits are just flying around doing these things but…but I can’t. I want to go back, I want to change, I want to…” Here Sally couldn’t go on and started crying hysterically again. Feeling helpless I wondered what to do to comfort a ghost? It wasn’t like I could hug her, or anything. Nor would Wilda’s herbal potions work to calm her down, or Hetty’s cookies and a glass of almond milk do any good. Oh, how I wished ghosts could feel a good old sugar rush! I guess I could put her in therapy with Agatha, but then again I wasn’t sure if Agatha could even hear her? It’s not like Josephine who had somehow assumed a physical kind of body. Even if it had just been some sort of illusion.
“Do you want to talk about it? I mean the thing that’s making you upset?” I asked. I might not be Agatha, but sometimes it helps to talk, right?!
“No, no, it’s all terrible. I’m terrible.” Sally was sobbing as she said it.
“I’m sure you are not all that terrible,” I said. “Terrible people don’t care about being terrible and you’re crying so that means you’re showing remorse, which means you have a heart, which means you need to forgive yourself for any mistake you’ve made.” That was a rambling sentence if I’d ever heard one and I was trying to think of something eloquent to say, but at f*** o’clock at night my brain was pretty…sleepy. Still, I was doing my best Agatha impression. Only instead of sitting at Sanctum Sanctorum with a cup of herbal tea in front of me, I was sitting in my PJs with disheveled hair and eyes swollen from sleep.
I suddenly had a bout of inspiration looking down at my PJs — embroidered on the pocket of the shirt it said: “I love dreams.” Maybe this was a dream? I pinched myself.
“Ouch,” I moaned.
“What is it?” Sally said, momentarily forgetting to cry.
“Uhm, nothing,” I replied. “I just pinched myself to check I wasn’t dreaming.”
“Why would you be dreaming?” Sally asked, confused.
“Because,” I said, “ghosts aren’t real. Or well, they are real. So the past two days are telling me, but like, you aren’t supposed to be real. Ghosts aren’t supposed to exist. Mediums are meant to be exposed by Houdini, had he still been alive. But now you are real and I’m a medium and everything’s messed up.” I shook my head in bewilderment.
“I’m sorry,” Sally said. “There’s nothing wrong with being a ghost though. Not if you’re a happy ghost. Like the spirit helpers and those who just go onto their next realm, or life. I can’t go on. I’m stuck. I can’t leave my life because I was a horrible person.” Here Sally let out a moan and started sobbing again.
Quickly I tried to come up with something else to say.
“Well, it’s not easy to be someone who can speak to ghosts either. You pop up at all hours and all places talking to me and if there’s anyone else around they’ll think me mad. Just today someone started speaking to me at school when I was surrounded by people and at the library some ghost (at least I think it was a ghost) made me all cold and spoke of gold in the mountain and then I felt all frozen. It wasn’t nice at all. Quite rude actually.”
“It made you feel frozen?” Sally asked. “That’s bad. Oh, that’s bad. Oh, I’m scared now.”
“Well, imagine how I felt. And I was surrounded by people. What if anyone had seen me who couldn’t hear the voice?”
This remark was met with silence. Not even a sob.
“Hello, Sally?” I said to the air. “Are you there?”
It appeared Sally had left the building. Without saying goodbye. Was it just me, or were ghosts plain rude? First Josephine had showed up unannounced (but at least to her defense I assumed she couldn’t exactly have warned me of one day being able to see ghosts), then Mr Crinkle had made his appearance in school when I was surrounded by friends, followed by the ghost at the library and now Sally waking me up in the middle of the night. Maybe one day I’d learn not to react when these people…ghosts…materialized out of thin air, but still. Sobbing in the middle of the night?! And then leaving without saying goodbye?!
I was starting to think that the days when my main concern was what to study at college had been great. Back then (a mere two days ago!) I’d thought that once I just found my affinity it would solve the problem, but if my affinity was seeing ghosts, it had nothing to do with what to study in college. I certainly did not want to do paranormal studies! And the idea of a future as a medium made me cringe.
They say you should learn to play the cards you’re dealt, but let me tell you that can require a lot of imagination!
As I lay on my back, staring up at the ceiling in the darkness, I saw myself being on stage as Juliet, when suddenly sad Sally joined me on stage, crying her non-existent eyes out. It wasn’t a pleasant daydream (funny how you can have them in the middle of the night too!).
Resolutely I turned on my side and pulled my duvet over my head. In case Sally returned, I planned on not hearing her. In fact, maybe I should buy earplugs in the morning?! Or start listening to music everywhere I went?